Like all of Fr. Nouwen's work, this account of a six-month trip (Oct. '81 through March '82) to Bolivia and Peru is relaxed,...

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IGRACIAS: A Latin American Journal

Like all of Fr. Nouwen's work, this account of a six-month trip (Oct. '81 through March '82) to Bolivia and Peru is relaxed, thoughtful, and humane--but, as usual, there's something missing. Nouwen dabbles in several genres here--travel diary, auto: biography, reflections on religion and politics--without fully committing himself to any one of them. He describes the sights and sounds of his journey, but less for their own sake than as grist for his theological mill. He examines his priestly conscience against the background of the suffering masses of Cochabamba and Lima, but without really baring his soul. He witnesses police terrorism in Bolivia and the horrors of the Lurigancho prison in Peru, and he listens to left-wing missionaries and theologians advocating a Christian revolution, but he can't respond coherently to the whole situation. Also, despite Nouwen's ten years of teaching at Yale Divinity School, his English sometimes lacks verve and idiomatic flavor. (He was born and brought up in Holland.) In any event, he does have some good things to offer. He is an engagingly humble tourist, whether in the barrio or the Altiplano. In this alien, often threatening environment he reacts to the beauty and occasional heroism he sees with the enthusiastic gratitude implied in his title. At the same time, he never piously dodges the poverty and oppression around him or lets his modest mid-life crisis blot out the more concrete woes of striking tin miners or naked, malnourished orphans. (Though he ends his book on a hesitant note, Nouwen has now gone off to work full-time in Latin America.) A minor effort but intelligent and unpretentious.

Pub Date: June 8, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1983