Heart of the Lonely Exile, Emerald Ballad Series #2Heart of the Lonely Exile, Emerald Ballad Series #2
B.J. Hoff
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Michael Burke, a strong, dedicated Irish policeman, desperately wants to keep his promise to his best friend Morgan Fitzgerald to marry Nora and protect her. But Nora’s instincts urge her to resist Michael’s proposal and follow her heart in a different direction….More troubling still, in the midst of her personal struggle, the heartaches from her homeland continue to plague her.


 Heart of the Lonely Exile Discussion Questions: BJ Hoff


1)     Evan Whittaker tells Daniel John that in order to guard against despair and disillusionment Daniel must “hold the hope of heaven in his heart.” What did he mean by this? Did Evan’s explanation help you to understand what is meant by a “pilgrim soul?”


2)    Pastor Jess Dalton’s sermon on unconditional love convicts Sara Farmington of a sin she suddenly realizes she’s harbored for years. What is that sin?


3)    In a bitter tirade, Michael Burke questions Pastor Dalton about God’s church—“I would ask you this, Pastor: Where is the Lord’s church? Where was it—other than for a brave few, of course—when the Irish were dropping by the thousands along the road, dying of starvation and the fever … where is the church when the black slave is torn away from his wife and his babies and put in chains or when he’s beaten to a bloody pulp for accidentally looking into a white man’s face … where has it been? Where, exactly, is it now? Right now?” The pastor’s blunt, incisive answer catches Michael up short and stirs an unfamiliar fire in his spirit.


4)    Do you recall at least a part of the pastor’s answer to Michael? Did it speak in any way to your own confusion or questions about God’s church?


5)    What traits does Daniel John see in Dr. Nicholas Grafton that create in him a desire to be the same kind of physician as his mentor?


6)    The child, Annie Delaney from Belfast, learned to read from the pages of Morgan Fitzgerald’s poetry. Over the years he’s become a folk hero in her mind. What “outrageous” idea does she come up with after Morgan is wounded? And how does her proposal turn out?


7)    Two people invade Morgan Fitzgerald’s life, and he’s never quite the same after their arrival. The child Annie Delaney, and the enigmatic Sandemoneach bring what at times seem to be opposite qualities into Morgan’s world. How do you view the differences they make in his life?


8)    “Finola” may be an example of how God can bring beauty out of ugliness and light out of darkness. How so?


9)    The words of Morgan’s friend, Joseph Mahon, pierce his heart and help him finally to accept the reality of his descent into alcoholism: “The level of dependency on the Lord, the unshakable faith in Him which I have encountered as a priest this past year has convinced me that there is no strength apart from the Lord’s presence, no hope apart from His promises, and no peace apart from His love.” How does he react to these words, and to Annie Delaney’s fearful rejection of him—and what is the decision he makes and shares with Sandemon?


10)    What is Lewis Farmington’s wedding gift to Nora and Evan? Why would a gift of this nature be particularly poignant and meaningful to these two immigrants?




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