Heady reflections on a lifetime of activism.
Throughout the book, Bonpane (Civilization Is Possible, 2008, etc.) reflects on Christianity, America, and the gulf between the developed and developing world. Ordained asa priest in 1958, the author was soon at odds with the Catholic establishment and eventually struck out on his own, even marrying. He points out that he never left the Church and is still a priest, even if not in good standing with the ecclesiastical hierarchy. In the mid-'60s, Bonpane became involved in the violent atmosphere in Guatemala, the first of many connections to Central and Latin America throughout his life. He went on to become a visible member of the antiwar movement during Vietnam, while continuing an interest in other questions of foreign and domestic policy. After an unsuccessful run for Congress, Bonpane worked for the United Farm Workers with César Chávez. This was followed by heavy involvement with the Nicarauguan Revolution and leadership in the Office of the Americas. Reading Bonpane’s memoir is like exploring a mini-history of liberal activism over the last 45 years. From Kent State to Rodney King, Bonpane seemed to always have a connection to the flashpoints in modern American history. The author is not afraid to speak his mind or tip sacred cows--e.g. “As is the case of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the Central American Wars were pure and simple state terrorism on the part of our country.” Despite a heavy emphasis on the story of his activism, Bonpane always comes back to issues of religion, addressing his belief in liberation theology and in a universalist, non-sectarian adherence to faith.
A fascinating read for students of modern American liberalism and foreign policy.