Kendrick, Stephen 1954–
Kendrick, Stephen 1954–
PERSONAL: Born 1954; partner of Elizabeth (a social worker); children: Paul, Anna, Elizabeth.
ADDRESSES: Home—Boston, MA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Beacon Press, 25 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Previously served as minister at Universalist Church of West Hartford, Connecticut, Unitarian Universalist Society of Howard County, Maryland, and Unitarian Church of York, Pennsylvania, and at Unitarian chapels in England; First and Second Church, Boston, MA, minister, 2001–.
(With son, Paul Kendrick) Sarah's Long Walk: The Free Blacks of Boston and How Their Struggle for Equality Changed America, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 2004.
Also contributor of articles to Christian Century, Hartford Courant, and the New York Times.
SIDELIGHTS: A Unitarian Universalist minister, Stephen Kendrick has written for numerous periodicals. In his first book, Holy Clues: The Gospel according to Sherlock Holmes, he combines his knowledge of religion and spirituality with his respect for English writer Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his philosophy of life and crime solving.
Holy Clues explores the idea that Holmes's method of discovering truth is not very different from the manner in which a Christian might seek God. Kendrick believes that one must be willing to accept the Gospel as a bit of a mystery and approach it in that manner. The book compares religious faith to Holmes's ability to pay attention to the "small things." Booklist contributor Ray Olson noted that "even irreligious Sherlockians should find Kendrick's book intriguing," while a Publishers Weekly reviewer explained that the stories in the book "combine a deep sense of how attentiveness to the details of ordinary life can yield extraordinary insights."
Kendrick returns to the Holmes character in his second book, Night Watch: A Long-Lost Adventure in Which Sherlock Holmes Meets Father Brown, a reworking of an old Holmes tale, The Locked Room Mystery. Father Brown is a fictional detective character created by G.K. Chesterton. In this rendition, Holmes is called to St. Thomas's Church in London, where there is a secret meeting taking place to plan for an ecumenical service involving each of the world's religions. In attendance are clergymen representing the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist faiths. The rector of St. Thomas has been found murdered in the church, and all the men are suspects. With the help of Father Brown, a translator for the Roman Catholic priest, Holmes must solve the mystery before the night is over. The story also contains some actual events from church history, with a reviewer for Publishers Weekly pointing out that "Kendrick knows and respects his source materials." A Kirkus Reviews writer felt that the book showed "an intriguingly complex Holmes, rough edges softened by a healthy respect for religion."
Kendrick put aside Sherlock Holmes for his next book, Sarah's Long Walk: The Free Blacks of Boston and How Their Struggle for Equality Changed America. The book, which he cowrote with his son, Paul, explores the 1848 case of a young black girl, Sarah Roberts, who was not allowed to attend the white schools near her Beacon Hill home. Furthermore, the black school she was forced to attend many blocks away was poorly equipped, unlike the schools near her home. Her father hired a prominent black attorney and sued the school district in a court challenge that predated Brown v. Board of Education by over a hundred years. Ultimately, the court deemed that Sarah's educational needs were being met under an idea that came to be known as the "separate but equal" doctrine. The Kendricks explore the reactions of Boston's black and the white communities in a book that Vanessa Bush, a contributor to Booklist, called "a thoroughly well researched and absorbing look at the social forces" of the time. A writer for Kirkus Reviews praised the book for providing "new depth in the legacy of America's struggle for equal rights."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 1999, Ray Olson, review of Holy Clues: The Gospel according to Sherlock Holmes, p. 1771; December 15, 2004, Vanessa Bush, review of Sarah's Long Walk: The Free Blacks of Boston and How Their Struggle for Equality Changed America, p. 694.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2001, review of Night Watch: A Long-Lost Adventure in Which Sherlock Holmes Meets Father Brown, p. 1327; December 1, 2004, review of Sarah's Long Walk, p. 1134.
Library Journal, July, 1999, John Moryl, review of Holy Clues, p. 98; October 1, 2001, Fred Gervat, review of Night Watch, p. 146.
New York Review of Books, November 4, 1999, Christopher Hitchens, "The Case of Arthur Conan Doyle," p. 25.
Publishers Weekly, May 31, 1999, review of Holy Clues, p. 84; November 5, 2001, review of Night Watch, p. 45; November 15, 2004, review of Sarah's Long Walk, p. 47.