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Reviews of "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines"

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See the Spanish language blog "Historia de un Legionario de Cristo irlandés"

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By Edward CSC O'Connor (New Haven, CT USA)

Once I picked up this book, I couldn't put it down and barely did until, with mixed feelings, I finished it. Other Catholics -- whether in or out of the Congregation in question -- may have similar mixed feelings but will find this book illuminating. Founders and CEOs of companies or organizations -- as well as their followers and employees -- will surely benefit from reading it.


Born amidst global conflict -- on the very day the Allies postponed the invasion of southern France until after that of Normandy -- and having traveled around the globe, apparently always conflicted, Mr Keogh recounts his experiences as an itinerant (up-and-coming, down-and-out, out-the-door and recovering) Irish-born priest in arguably the most controversial Catholic religious order in Church history, the Legionaries of Christ, which was born, also in 1944, in Mexico and experienced rapid-fire growth from the 1950s onward in Latin America, Europe, the United States, Africa and Asia.

Few human beings have shared Mr Keogh's experiences; nor can anyone dispute his experience. But all of us can relate with Mr Keogh on one or both of two dimensions: (1) navigating, building and surviving a "dysfunctional" yet fast-growing organization under the auspices of a charismatic but corrupt founder and leader; and (2) reconciling the tensions between one's head and heart, between one's apparent vocation in life and one's certain aspirations to live, always with a view to beginning again ... personal reinvention for the sake of survival and flourishing.

These two dimensions are cleverly paired in this memoir, with Mr Keogh's personal experiences -- mostly prosaic, some profound; alternately sad and funny; always engaging, insightful -- serving as a morality play that allegorically develops the situation of a man in a dysfunctional organization, within which the man's own struggles for sanity and sanctity mirror the deep challenges of the entity in which he finds himself but of which he is really not.

The Tension

The argument of the memoir's action shows palpably that organizations imprint themselves on their people -- whether regimes : citizens or companies : employees -- and organizations get their imprint from their founders. This observation is as old as Plato, with echoes of Homer, and pivotal in the western tradition of political philosophy (follow the thread on foundings and empires from Plutarch to Machiavelli) to say nothing of western history. It certainly applies to the organization in which Mr Keogh grew up as evidenced by the Vatican's judgment on its founder, Fr Marcial Maciel and on the Legion of Christ itself, in the 1 May 2010 communiqué, which was issued after this book was published.

The "Crooked Lines" of the title pertain to the stringent rules and entangling caprice, the routes and rigors, the twists and turns, and the many contradictions in Mr Keogh's over-long vocational journey ... the "Driving Straight" pertains to his willful determination, drive and directness throughout, as well as to his struggling from one beginning after another toward an ending that satisfied his very humane, all-too-human quest. The book is Augustinian in its exploration of reconciling memory, Thérèsean in its consideration of the challenges of religious life, Ignatian in its sustained examination of conscience. Yet, too, it is simply a very modern man's cathartic effort to make sense of his experience: the challenges of a man on a mission that's not unlike pinball with his head and his heart as the bumpers.

The Denouement

The first chapter's subtitle establishes the theme, "The Beginning of the End," that ensuing chapters develop. Mr Keogh weaves one beginning and ending after another, together, occasionally dropping or diverting from the threads but always moving, on a circuitous global journey (Ireland, Rome, Spain, Mexico, USA, Gabon), under the looming presence of Maciel, whom he came to know well but never quite well enough. Some of Mr Keogh's revelations about the founder of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi are shocking in retrospect, but fall far short of the full recitation of Maciel's derelictions and sins in the mentioned communiqué.

Still, these revelations and supporting observations by Mr Keogh suggest, as did his wife ultimately, the fire accounting for all the smoke. Mr Keogh's epilogue on leadership pulls no punches on his "narcissistic, charismatic leader" -- "I must face the fact that I formed my conscience, and spiritual life, according to the precepts of a hypocrite, liar, and perhaps a sociopath." -- even as Mr Keogh extols, with pride and gratitude, the good in the world achieved by what Maciel founded and led, of which he was a part but does not, in the end, seem to have been indelibly stamped by, contrary to his own assertion.

For what makes this book uplifting is how Mr Keogh -- who slowly pieced together Fr Maciel's motives by observing his behavior and came to a realization that the idealism, the spiritual value of the Legionaries of Christ were undermined in the process of institutionalization -- escaped that inevitable imprint. In counter-Hollywood fashion, Mr Keogh realized that it was his unsullied heart he should follow, not his tortured head. Yet the slow evolution of his reasoning about his feelings and aspirations, putting them in perspective of the reality he came to see and the faith he surely retained, is instructive for anyone who finds himself in a dead-end situation. The natural means he pursued, with a grasping after supernatural context, to come to terms with that reality and his faith make this book, which is otherwise light-hearted, full-bodied and often question-begging, compelling, worth a read and serious consideration.


HOLY COW! February 15, 2011
By S.D. (New York, USA)

I finished the book within 36 hours. Couldn’t put it down.

I think my main reaction after finishing was “Holy cow.” I’m still processing the epilogue, especially, in which you not necessarily forgive, but at least come to terms with, the person and the movement you followed for so long. Over and over again, the main part of the book is driven by extraordinary willpower, and I can’t decide if the final decision is a lasting remnant of that willpower or if it’s truly when you “decide with your heart,” as you say. Either way, it takes an awesome amount of awareness to make that decision.


And then I thought a lot about you. Where did that willpower come from?  I wondered many times if the narrator was trustworthy, especially given the injunction to present a happy face to your family. But that’s always the catch in first-person memoirs! You present the situation as you experienced it and as you remembered it.

Then I also wondered if you ever had fleeting moments of regret for what your life could have been, what you gave up, or whether you have come to terms with your life in the service and all that it taught you. Naturally, you would not be who you are now had you not had these experiences, but the question comes down to: was it worth it? As one review said, the book is rather sad up until the end, and I wondered whether you felt, at times, that you had wasted a good many years. Of course, you did amazing work with the schools, and maybe that justifies the time spent. Or does it?


The one thing I didn’t quite understand is: why didn’t you stay a regular priest when leaving the LC? At one point you decided that diocesan priesthood was not for you, but at another point you acknowledged that some parish priests were doing good and essential work. Perhaps you felt that it was an all-or-nothing choice, but with the continued support for the Catholic Church that you expressed in the epilogue, I imagined that you would stay more active in the church than a regular parishioner. And maybe you are. I don’t know, and that’s outside the scope of the book anyway.




By A Mungia Esteves, Tucson, AZ USA


I really enjoyed reading this book written by a very intelligent person. I had fun reading it; and got vey important information about The Legion of Christ. This book is a must read for any catholic person. After reading this book you will find out or confirm, developing true moral values and having a true religious is much better than trusting a religion with all your heart.

From my own experience, I know that congregations such as The Legion of Christ, have as main objective to make money, so that it`s main leaders would live as Kings. The Legion of Christ is still very succesful at getting benefactors, specially new rich wanna be persons that want to belong to the high society in their hometowns (mostly) catholic communities). I am really impressed at how mostly new rich people and wanna be persons give the Legion a lot of money. Most of them feel like buying a ticket to being accepted in the high society club of their communities. And yes, Father Maciel built many schools and seminars; but, we must not forget he did it using Christ as a brand, as a product; which is something unacceptabe. It`s just like the mafia persons, they kill people, sell sell illegal drugs; but, they give a lot of money to churches, they create jobs, they finance businesses and so on.



By M. Mccann "Michael J. McCann" (Celbridge, Ireland)

Jack, Your book arrived on Friday October 1, having been ordered only on the previous Monday. I did not put it down until 04.00 this morning! Excellent read and everything you say rings true.

I cannot actually remember my own comment quoted in the book about Marilyn Monroe, but it sounds like something said tongue in cheek, or maybe in absolute piety! :)

The old adage of absolute power corrupting comes to mind. All in all, I am grateful for the education received in the Legion of Christ and for the many enduring friendships which have blossomed after 1971 when I left.

I must compliment you on your excellent memory of detail, much of which I had indeed forgotten. The plain facts shine through time and time again in the book, and my recollections contradict nothing which you have written.

So well done and ¡adelante! in your both in your professional career and as an author.


Balanced & Factual, January 10, 2011
By Anthony Ferrari


read Jack's book from cover to cover and found the book to be balanced and factual. Four years ago I investigated the Legion thoroughly to determine the truth. During that time, I read all types of documents, books, met and interviewed many people at all levels to determine what was factual about the inner workings of the Legion.


Jack's book provides a very balanced view point that provides the reader with an in depth look at his life both in and out of the Legion. One is able to get a good understanding of Jack's journey from the novitiate all the way through his departure from the Legionaries of Christ. Jack provides insight into his working and personal relationship with Father Maciel and shares the trials that he endured during his vocation as a Legionary priest. He brings to light the positive aspects of his life in the Legion and how he has been able to apply his formative experience in his current professional career today. I would recommend this book to current and former Legionaries, Consecrated, Brothers,and Regnum Christi members; it can be a source of healing and consolation to those who have been impacted by the recent revelations of the Legionaries of Christ.


Reaction from a former [Irish] Legionary, March 23, 2011
By A.D.

I read and re-read your book "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines."


It's easy to identify with your sentiments and perceptions. You have captured the atmosphere keenly, reading your history I could feel and breath the ambience of docility and total submission of Dubin, Salamanca and Rome when we were "Mexicanised", adjusted and told what to think. [Our Superiors] were experts at pre-emptive strikes, telling us what it is before you heard the news and formed an opinion yourself. Your book is very good on those days of fast cars and flashy suits.!


A must read for all ex Legionaries of Christ,
September 25, 2010
By Adlucem,(Amazon Verified Purchase)

This book should be an obligatory orientation manual for anybody who is contemplating leaving the Legion of Christ. Likewise, in this time of renewal for the Legion, it is a must read for any Legionary who has any part in the renewal.

The book, in which Jack has courageously put so many of his personal experiences out there, documents the life of a person who has lived the contradictory extremes of Legionary life. I really appreciate that!

I feel the book also documents the "vocation" as understood by many of us who joined in those early days. I struggled with "my vocation" not only for most of my eleven years in the Legion, but also for most of my life post-Legion. I believe that the tight interpretation of "vocation" offered by the Legion has in fact blocked the mind and heart of many good, sincere souls to their true vocation.

I enjoyed the book because it took me on an emotional journey through memories of a life I had consciously decided to forget. There is no whinging about the past, rather Jack appreciates the amazing gifts the Legion gave us and at the same time looks sincerely and bravely at its shortcomings and how these are both reflections of it's flawed founder Marcial Maciel.

I found the book inspiring. I remember Jack, back in the day, as an extrovert with an easy going can-do attitude. I was an introvert who avoided any type of pressure, so Jack exuded all that I could wish to be. He is still the same. Thanks for that Jack!




Of Stolen Cows and Crooked Lines, September 13, 2010
By Deirdre Mundy


I’ve been arguing with Jack Keogh, otherwise known as “The Monk,” for months. We’ve butted heads on several blogs, we’ve disagreed vociferously, and on a few occasions, if we’d been in the same pub, I would have leapt across the table and tried to strangle him!

With that history, I wasn’t sure what I’d find when I opened “Driving Straight on Crooked Lines.” I think I was expecting a rousing defense of the Legion. Instead, Jack gave a fascinating, deeply personal account of what it was like to be a Legionary in the early days. His writing puts the reader behind his eyes and takes you along for the ride. In the end, his book answered a few important questions for me: What were they thinking? Why didn’t anyone see? Why would anyone have stayed? How do people decide to leave?

It seems like most accounts of Legion life have been written by melancholic introverts with a tendency toward extreme scruples. For these people, Legion life was Hell. The whole structure seemed to be set up to keep introverts miserable, subservient, and broken. Unfortunately, these accounts also repel many current LC and RC – it’s easy to write the authors off. “Well, of course the Legion was a bad experience for him. He was a bad fit! He should never have stayed! After all, it’s not like the door was locked!”

Jack Keogh was not introverted, melancholic, or overly scrupulous. He was an extrovert, set all afire in his quest to save Latin America from the communists. He was an optimist, and enjoyed most of his time in the Legion. He saw Maciel’s crushing lists of rules as mere guidelines, and broke them without guilt, treating punishments as the price to pay for having some fun.

And Jack did have fun. Lots of fun. As a driver, he didn’t have to spend much time in stifling community life. He traveled with Maciel, met heads of state and movie stars, and received glamorous assignments like turning around failing schools, working with cardinals, and establishing a Legion presence in a wealthy New York suburb. He took vacations, went to musicals, and entertained wealthy donors.

As I read, I got sucked in by all the travel, glamour and fun. I had to work to remember that, as the Vatican declared in its communiqué, Marcial Maciel had no religious sentiment or scruples. If I, an adult reading Monk’s memoir, found it so easy to be sucked into the exciting world of the early Legion, is it any wonder that so many boys were ensnared by Maciel’s order?

Still, even as Jack was having fun, there were hints of the revelations to come. Maciel repeatedly condones or recommends acts of dishonesty –For instance, lying about the contents of a lost suitcase to receive a bigger settlement. Or allowing the brothers to build a compartment in the bus so that they can smuggle electronics and alcohol across European borders. Why did they go along with his suggestions? It seems like their consciences were lulled to sleep by the knowledge that Maciel was a living saint. So obviously, these sins weren’t really sins, but simply God’s Providence helping the young congregation save money.

In between all the fun and busy-ness, Jack has doubts about the Legion. He begins to think of Maciel as a ‘slick operator,’ not a living saint, but a flawed man that God is using for great things. Jack has doubts about his call to the priesthood, and is on the verge of leaving several times. Yet whenever he’s about to return home to his family, there’s a new challenge or treat. Legion life becomes fun and exciting again and he doesn’t have time for all that difficult reflection and doubt. In a way, Maciel is almost Satanic, tempting Jack away from his vocation and a deeper relationship with God with pretty baubles – enjoyable but fleeting.

Jack is a golden boy in the Legion – loved, feted, coddled and treated as long as he is useful. Then the day comes when he’s no longer useful, and, like so many Legionaries before him, he’s exiled, ignored, and finally gone.

In the end, I think it was his early faith formation that helped him leave. Even though Jack enjoys himself in the Legion, he has a niggling sense that something’s not right – that the life he’s living isn’t really what religious life is supposed to be like, and that Maciel isn’t really what the founder of a congregation ought to be.

I found myself wondering about the other sort of Legionary—the sort who grew up in a Regnum Christi family, spent his formative years in K4J and Conquest and then went straight into Apostolic School at 12. How can a boy like that even understand what’s wrong with Maciel’s vision? If he’s been formed to be Maciel’s ideal apostle since pre-school, how can he hope to break free as an adult?

Jack was lucky – he had a loving family who was happy to welcome home the prodigal son. Because of his time as ‘Golden Boy,’ he had friends and connections on two continents. He was able to build a good life for himself outside of the Legion. At the same time, I finished the book feeling deeply sorry for him.

The Legion took twenty years of his life. Those are twenty years where he had almost no contact with his family – twenty years that opened a chasm between Jack and his brother, twenty years he couldn’t spend sharing his parents’ joys, and twenty years that his absence contributed to their sorrows.

I also mourned for the Church. As a boy, Jack had dreamed of being an Irish missionary priest and ministering to the sick in Africa. If only he’d tried his vocation with a different order, instead of with the Legionaries!

I’d heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in the early history of the Legion, to anyone who wonders why some Legionaries insist that the Legion was a good experience for them, and for any of my friends and acquaintances who still aren’t sure why people are so upset about the damage that the Legion and Regnum Christi have done to the Church.

One huge caveat – Jack does not tell his story straight through from beginning to end. He jumps around a lot, going forward and backwards in time. I found it helpful to make a timeline to keep track. Still, I enjoyed the book – Jack’s voice is unique among ex-legionary accounts, and he gives an excellent view into the founding of the Legion. I didn’t go into this book expecting to like it or to like Jack Keogh. (Honestly, I was ready to rip it apart before I began.) I finished it with a deeper understanding for how Maciel tempted the early Legionaries, and how even those who weren’t abused were seduced and used.

In a way, Jack’s tale is like the story of a young Irishman who is kidnapped by fairies and spends years dancing and eating and drinking under the hill- only to emerge decades later to find that he’s been frozen in time while the world has grown and changed- and the ‘gold’ given to him by the fairies turns out to be nothing but a pocket full of dried leaves.

While it might not be essential for understanding Maciel or the Legion, it’s helpful for understanding the Legionaries, where they’re coming from, and how they might get to where they need to go.



An Amazing Story Of The Journey Of Life!, August 17, 2010
by Maureen Saliba

What an amazing story of the journey of life.


I am impressed with Jack Keogh's sincerity and openness; he is both profound and humorous, a very unique combination. Often times I found myself crying and laughing. Jack's story will cause you to reflect on life and our faith in the Catholic Church. Jack had the courage to follow his heart and soul, not always easy on this journey of life.

I found his story fascinating and inspiring. A great story of life!

Thanks for sharing your incredible journey



Nicely Done, J.K., August 19, 2010
By Michael S. Martin (BALDWIN, NY, US)


I owe Jack Keogh a debt of gratitude for his going to the trouble of writing this book. And for honestly sharing his experiences with the reader. No, I didn't find any blarney in these pages. Just plenty of good writing.
And a style that, although Keogh was recalling some extremely unpleasant episodes in his pursuit of God's Will, made for some eager reading on my part.


Experiences that would have driven many others to despair served as inspiration for Keogh to carry on. And to write. (His parents and family deserve a lot of the credit for Keogh's strength of character.)
Courtesy of the Catholic Church, I too had been mired in hopelessness. But the Hope of the Hopeless helped me out. And She still does. Thanks again, Jack. 



A Hero's Journey, August 5, 2010
By Dr. Kenneth W. Davis (Indianapolis, IN United States)

Jack Keogh's Driving Straight on Crooked Lines is a splendid example of Joseph Campbell's "hero's journey."

The author/narrator leaves his Dublin home and family to follow a dream--to change the world as a missionary. He soon finds himself in a world of contradictions: the huts of Africa's poor and the homes of the United States' and Mexico's wealthiest families; his personal devotion and the politics of power; his vow of poverty and his superior's taste for luxury.

He ends up indeed playing a role in changing the world, and in the process, changing himself. As a result of this change, he returns to build a new home and family.

For anyone interested in the developing world, in the Catholic Church, in organizational theory, or in intercultural communication, Driving Straight provides excellent object lessons--and takes readers on an exciting journey of their own.



The Cost of Father Maciel, June 28 2010
by Rachel,


Anyone wanting to learn more about how the Legion was able to gain such influence in the Vatican, over it's history, should not only read Berry, but former LC's Jack Keogh's Driving Straight on Crooked Lines.


In this memoire of his time with the Legion, Keogh traces the Legion's developing influence all the way back to special assistance given to Secretary Montini (Paul VI), and the hospitality the Legion gave to Bishops and Cardinals participating in Vatican II. Key people were cultivated over decades, and LC priests placed as secretaries with key decision-making bodies as early as the 60ies. Certain patterns were set into place long before JPII's papacy.

An Excellent Book on One Man's Experience of the Legion of Christ, July 1, 2010
By Rachelle Cournoyer

In the recent scandals involving Father Maciel, I wondered how the founder of the Legion of Christ could have established a powerful order of religious priests and a large lay movement within the Catholic Church while living a double life. Jack Keogh, in these memoires, recounts how he was recruited at the age of 17, and how he poured the energies of his youth founding key institutions in Mexico for the love of Christ.


It is the story of idealism, dedication, generous service, and we see Jack flowering under the huge challenges that are given to him. The tension of living in a religious community is recounted with good humor, and anyone who has had the opportunity of living with religious orders will recognize themselves in his funny tales. We see a young order growing through the commitment and enthusiasm of its young men, under the direction of a mysterious. charismatic and charming leader who does not live in the community but drops into it periodically to give it inspiration and direction.


Father Maciel is able to draw the best out of his young men, and does so repeatedly, squeezing every ounce of sacrifice from them, while remaining oblivious to their human needs. How Father Maciel betrays Jack Keogh comes like a punch in the gut. But this is not the end of the story, because through resilience, determination, and indomitable spirit, Jack is able to overcome formidable obstacles, put the Legion behind him, and embrace a new life. I recommend this book to anyone wanting a good human story that is full of hope, and to anyone wanting a fresh look at the inside story of the foundation and growth of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi.

I particularly recommend this story to other Regnum Christi members because it will increase our understanding of the challenges that we face and how we can better support our young priests in the Legion in the upcoming Vatican-mandated reformation.



An honest view from an honest man, June 21, 2010
By Ricardo Sanchez Villalon (Metepec, Edo Mexico, MX)


This book really took me inside, being a member of the RC, I was quite cautious on what was said. I found it very objective, without hiding facts or assuming the existence of others. It shows clearly the need of changes inside the Legion, some of those already happened, as I can see in my hometown. Some others may come soon. It is a way to see that Religious life is composed by human beings, with a true faith and good values, although not all of them are perfect, but most of them are committed to give their life for Christ.

Jack is not giving a magical receipe, he provides a very objective series of facts that allow to see what has to be changed. He does not criticize, just gives an opinion. Not an easy task this days with all the media criticism on the Church and the Legion. It is an oasis to read someone that is not denying the facts, but is giving hope to the readers.


I Have attended some of Jack's conferences as motivational speaker, and all the times he has been qualified with the best notes by the public, this time there is no change, his history is a motivational one and reading it, is as if you were talking to Jack face to face. Interesting, funny, deep, sentimental, few adjectives to give you an idea of what you will find. It is also a learning experience for those of us that are not related to the insides of the Church protocol, and finally a multicultural information from all of his travel. I really hope you enjoy as much as I did, when you read the book.



Great story & message of hope, June 21, 2010
By Claire Smith (Portland, OR)

This book is an honest, thought provoking read. It dives into the inner workings of the order of the Legion of Christ while it tells the page turning story of a man who left home at an early age and had to find meaning in the situation he found himself in all by himself. It brings the reader from the Vatican in Rome to the jungles of the Congo and back to the suburbs of Connecticut- a path that few have travelled and one that makes for a very interesting and often entertaining read.

After growing up Catholic and attending Catholic school, I thought I knew a fair amount about the inner workings of the church. I have heard about the problems the church has had all along as I have watched many of the stories unfold in the news. This book gave more than a glimpse into the heart of one of the orders making headlines today. While the situation regarding the order's leader, Maciel, is unimaginable in many ways, this book also shed light on the people that were involved in the order for the RIGHT reasons. I think it is easy for people to focus on all of the bad things going on, especially as you see it splashed on CNN every other day.


This book was able to give the perspective of someone who hasn't denied any of the crimes that were committed or the cover-ups that were obviously made, but it gives a voice to those young men who joined simply because they wanted to do good work and be a part of something bigger than themselves. It was refreshing to read an honest story about the good things that the church, and even this particular order, has done. It gives me hope that the Church will be able to pick up the pieces, right the wrongs that have been committed as best they can, and move forward as long as there are people that still keep the true meaning of what God would want as Jack and many of his fellow brothers did.

Really an amazing book!!, June 17, 2010
By Spanish Teacher "Spanish Teacher" (Ireland)

I could not leave the book down. Jack well done for having written it. Excellent book.
For anyone connected to the Legion of Christ of Regnum Christi the book is a MUST.


Coming of Age, June 13, 2010
By Joan B. Weiler (New York)

For the outsider, this book provides a peek into an unknown, rather mysterious world, a world very much in the news.


Ultimately, however, it is a coming of age story as the reader follows a young, eager, rather naive Irishman as he begins his path into a wider world. An interesting read for the glimpse of The Catholic Church and The Legion of Christ - more interesting to watch the formation of an adult. Highly recommended on many levels.

Memoirs of a Priest, June 12, 2010
By Janice R. Scholz "Janice S." (Poughkeepsie, NY)

For the first time I got a look at life in the priesthood. I had no idea there were "off springs" such as Legion of Christ. As I read deeper into the book, it sounded somewhat like a cult.


I am happy Jack Keogh was able to keep his strong faith and not turn away from his Catholic beliefs. I also like the fact that the story was told as facts and not exgerated. I can see why Jack Keogh is a successful motivational speaker, he has exprienced and seen more of this world than most people will ever be able to. Thank you Jack Keogh for sharing your life as a priest and teaching us so many things along the way.

Terrific! June 11, 2010
By Cindy


I wanted to let you know I’ve been reading your book- it’s terrific! It amazes me that you led this interesting life for twenty years and how little I knew of it. After all, I’ve known you for some time now. You’ve made me realize everyone really does have a story to tell.


Yesterday over my early morning coffee, I cried thinking about your mother (and others) who sent their children off so young. Talk about sacrifice! Anyhow, I think you’re a truly great writer and I like that you are not linear in your tale-telling. It makes it feel like we are having a discussion. So when are you writing the next one?"

Buddy Holly in the Legion of Christ, June 9, 2010
By Paul Lennon author of "Our Father (Maciel) who art in bed, a Naïve and Sentimental Dubliner in the Legion of Christ."

I say Buddy Holly because my first impression of Jack was Buddy Holly in a cassock: gangly, with horned-rimmed glasses, who could sing and play the guitar.

This memoir is a must read for the Catholic public, former Legionaries and members of Regnum Christi, their friends and relatives -not to mention priests, bishops, Apostolic Visitators and Commissioners. Let me humbly state that I am one of the people best qualified to write this review. I, too, am a Dubliner, and joined the Legion a year before Jack Keogh. His claim to fame is being the first Irish Legionary to set foot on Mexican soil; mine of being one of the first eight Irishmen to begin Novitiate and take vows in Salamanca, Spain, in what would become the fastest growing and most prestigious order (more precisely "congregations") in the Catholic Church.

Not that Jack and I became bosom buddies. As he explains, Legionaries don't discuss any personal thoughts or feelings among themselves even if they are living side by side. Friendships are not allowed. The memoir shows how every Legionary is an island -of silence, solitude, and secrets- and, for the most part, an island unaware of its own needs. Jack mentions moments of getting in touch with his own Eros -he was more alive than others. Occasionally, Jack pulls back the sunny curtain to reveal sadness, leading us into the mystery of Legionary life. The less enthusiastic and optimistic will find that "Most Legionaries live lives of quiet desperation." Legionaries and Regnum Christi members hide their real selves behind a solid rock happy face façade. "Mom, I'm fine. Everything is wonderful here!" The tragedy is they bury themselves alive.

Former Legionaries can be divided into three groups: those who had a good time/experience with Fr Maciel; those who had a bad time and/or were abused by him in some way; and those with little direct contact with him. Jack belongs to the first group. Marcial Maciel had the uncanny knack of zeroing in on a person's gifts/needs/weaknesses, exploiting them for his own (the Kingdom of Christ's) ends. Jack wanted to figure and do something worthwhile. Maciel sent him to found the Irish Institute in Mexico City among the rich and famous.

Bro. John, our Jack, was always upbeat. I can still recall this gregarious six-footer trying to boost the morale of the troops "in the community", his large frame skipping along the Travertine corridors at Via Aurelia, Rome, as he joined us after one of his expeditions into the outside world, regaling us with a joke, a funny story, or an edifying tidbit about Nuestro Padre. Jack, like the rest of us, tried very hard to be a good Legionary. Everything he says is true. Ours is the same tune, played on different instruments; or wearing different colored glasses, pink, blue, red or black...He the motivational speaker; I the skeptic.

As the "Feeling Introvert" (see Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) I thought a lot about leaving the priesthood, daunted by the practical perspective of life outside the monastery walls. Jack, the "Thinking Extravert" went into action quickly, chose a wife, got married, had a daughter, and entered the business world. We must not minimize the contribution of the woman who joined her life to his at that moment: Collette, an atractive, kind, intelligent, and supportive wife, helping to put "Humpty Dumpty" together again.

Jack is at his best when he drops the breezy debonair, baring his heart; as in the illness of his native African friend, Dominique; or good bye to his teenage sweetheart, or his friendship with confreres such as Juan Manuel Amenabar, the ebullient Spanish padre who was director of the Irish Institute without speaking a word of English.

Jack renders a great service by describing what other former members overlook as the obvious but which outsiders ignore and are curious about - the details of daily life -giving a peek into what it is like in a Legion house of formation or apostolate, the various activities, the routines, the rules, the customs of the religious life: our duties as time-keeper, porter, laundry-worker, sacristan, mechanic, driver... He also gives a face to many unknown unselfish Legionaries whose names and stories would have remained in oblivion. Thank you, Jack, for going to the trouble of telling your tale, for taking the risk of sharing your intimacy, for helping to fill in the blanks in the Legion chronicles, and for giving us your personal perspective, for trying to be "objective" and dispassionate about a very passionate subject.

One of the final triggers for Jack's departure from the Legion was when Fr. Maciel cruelly mistreated Jack's fellow exile in Gabon, Luis Lerma. Jack's compassion kicked in and liberated him finally from the yoke around his neck. One of the final triggers of my leaving the Legion was furtively learning -through a mutual lay friend, Angelina - how Maciel mistreated Luis and Jack. Years previously I had picked up on something that destroyed my admiration for Nuestro Padre, and in my mind disqualified the Legion Founder from being a holy man or a saint: Maciel's inhumanity to man (and scorn for women).


A Good Read, June 6, 2010
By R. MacKay (Carmel, IN)

I had no idea that there was such an organization as the legion in the Catholic church. Jack's book provides a fascinating insight into this organization and its leader, Father Maciel. I am an Irish contemporary of Jack and I do remember recruiting visits by priests to my secondary school, so this brought back memories to me.


The book does not seek to be sensational - given what is going in the church at present it could have been - it is a very honest account of the life lived by a recruit to a new organization within the Catholic church and how he worked through the process of getting to his true vocation in life. I enjoyed it very much.


Intriguing view into the secretive world of a Legionary of Christ, May 26, 2010
By Aoife C. Rinaldi

This book is an intimate walk through the life of a young man entering the world of priesthood, a world where rules and politics seem to take hold of its leaders with as much strength as their professed love of God and spirituality.


I believe Keogh was able to describe the somewhat complicated structure of the Church in a way that was straightforward and interesting while also disclosing the ins and outs of everyday life in a hugely controversial order of priests. I highly recommend this book.


Uplifting Memoir
By Jason Berry, co-author, "Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II"

"I was pulled along by the story of a young Irishman drawn into the world of the Legionaries of Christ, unable to see the raw truth of Father Maciel, coming to the painful realization of Maciel's psychological tyranny as time passed, and having the fortune to leave early enough to make a new life. This is a sad yet, in the final measure, uplifting memoir."


A Look inside a private world, May 20, 2010
By Niamh T. Dougall

Many of us wonder what it is like "behind the curtain" of priesthood. With Hollywood images like "Da Vinci Code" and the scandal of recent times, Catholics have been left disillusioned.


I loved this book because it was refreshing and candid. This story is told with honesty and humor, and I couldn't put it down!


Inside View of the Catholic Church, May 5, 2010
By Ray

Immediately I was attracted to this book because of it's cover. After reading the book, I realized that the cover tells the whole story in one graphic view. I am Catholic but never had the insight into one of the Church's more aggressive organizations, the Legionaries of Christ. It was encouraging to read the good work done by these men as they practiced their vocations. Also, disconcerting to find that not all in the Legion of Christ had to follow the same standards. Thus, the framework of the story.


I highly recommend this biography. It is a heartening read.


A Good Summer Read, May 5, 2010
By Elizabeth

There is nothing like a sunny day at the beach with a good book.


Jack Keogh's autobiography "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines" is entertaining and at the same time, pertinent with regard to the recent news about what is going on in the Catholic Church. I found the Legionary Order and the conflicts and sacrifices that it presented just having friends, keeping in touch with family and normal human relationships very interesting. I highly recommend this personal story. It should be on your summer reading list.


You made me laugh and you made me cry! May 4, 2010
By Robin

Wow! I loved it and savored every word. It's curiously interesting to hear about the interior life of a priest, why they choose the profession, and the psychological and physical rigors they go through. Your open candor of your anxiety in deciding to leave the Legion and transition to a family man added the human touch and bridge desperately needed by the lay person in understanding the hierarchy of the Catholic church. Your experiences globally and refreshing comparisons of other cultures to Americans reinforced my passion for travelling abroad. Your descriptions of leadership qualities woven throughout your stories added skillful tools I can apply to my business. The ending was powerful and tied the whole book together beautifully, confirming my faith in being a Catholic in spite of the flawed institution. In summary, the book touched my full range of emotions. Like the funeral you led in the Congregational church years ago, you made me cry and you made me laugh. -a number of times. Thank you!"


Fascinating Insight into the Mind of a Former Catholic Priest, May 1, 2010
By C.L.B. (Australia)

Driving Straight on Crooked Lines appears to be an honest memoir, told with candor and clarity, which avoids mawkish sentimentality or sensationalism. Jack Keogh explores an important chunk of his life and speaks of these years in a straightforward way, without blowing things out of proportion. I particularly like that about this book. Because so much of it deals with the Legion of Christ and controversial founder Marcial Maciel, this could have been a book that attempted to be shocking, or melodramatic. But it's not. It reads like the simple truth, in a conversational and intelligent voice.
I am a fan of memoirs especially - and am not overly concerned with the Catholic Church, but this was a very interesting book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Complex Issues facing the Catholic Church laid out plainly, April 22, 2010
By G. Smith (Fairfield, CT)

A copy of this book found it's way onto my kitchen table. As the girls were out last night and I had the house to myself, I at once began satiating my curiosity. I have no right of course to voice opinions on the difficulties facing the Catholic Church, however.....Jack Keogh does.


I hope that organizations in crisis will take close note of the last several chapters. Keogh's love for the church rings true as does his concern over allegations levied against it. This book is refreshing in that Keogh does not throw the baby out with the bath water. We can see that the world is a much better place for the works of the church. At the same time we are brought face to face with the all too human church. Huey Long, JFK, Bill Clinton, yes, I suppose all leaders have a dark side and it seems very good leaders do even more so. Keogh helps us navigate the complex feelings when the frailties of our leadership are exposed.



Very enjoyable and really holds the interest, April 15, 2010


Reads like a clerical version of the fictional hero, Jack Reacher -a former member of an army elite unit with lots of adventures - in Lee Mill's novels



The author does not thrash the Church or the Legionaries of Christ, April 10, 2010
By Kathryn


I realize some really bad things have happened [in the Church] but I feel that it is a glass half-full versus half-empty thing as well. At any rate, my concern also for the Legion priests who are still there and the effect all the scandal involving priest sexual abuse is having on them. I hope it all turns out for the best and that priests don't lose heart. The sense I got from reading this book is that perhaps the author was not sure he had a vocation to the priesthood all along, but did not get very good help in discerning that along the line... and I felt this was interesting and it helps me to understand better the whole vocational aspect of celibacy, versus singlehood, and marriage.


It also helped me to understand a little better how someone who appears holy and charismatic like the Legion's founder may not be all they appear to be. I think this is something that I've tended to do in my life is kind of put priests and other authority figures up on a pedestal and then become surprised when I find out they have some serious defects. At any rate the reason to be a Christian and Catholic is not priests but Jesus Christ who is perfect and all good and all holy. I'm glad you didn't trash the church or the Legion in your book and I'm also glad if there is an error that it is on the "too nice" side.