Paul Monk 1984. The Secret Gospel According to Mark. The extraordinary life of a Catholic existentialist. London: Echo Books, 680 pp.

I read this intermittently over several months, although when missing pieces of a jigsaw are at last offered it is difficult to stop reading. This is the biography of long-time colleague at Museum Victoria, Mark O’Loughlin, who, since 2000 when we began to share a laboratory became a valued friend. He is all that and much more for the author, Paul Monk, and thus this is inevitably a work of love and admiration, not a critical evaluation. Knowing Mark and his truly extraordinary life, it could not be otherwise, although that does sits strangely with Paul Monk’s other writings which are anything but uncritical.

Among many many questions, I long to know what a life Mark would have led if he had a secular upbringing and education instead of one from the Christian Brothers - Edmund Rice teaching from within the Catholic Church. No doubt Mark would find that question an anathema and would instead wonder if he could conduct the converse thought experiment on me. I found myself unconvinced by the Catholic way of life, but Mark’s life commitment to the Edmund Rice ideals leave the vast majority of secular “progressives” to shame.

There is much more along these lines to ask Mark (and ideally Paul) and I hope to find the occasion for that discussion, which would require armchairs and red wine.

… more to add here after those discussions …