A South African priest recalls his experiences under apartheid while also highlighting his progressive views on diverse issues.
With his privileged upbringing, which included a stint at the exclusive English school Harrow, Yeats (Veritatis Splendor, 1995) could have easily slipped into a quiet, fulfilling life as a priest. Being quiet clearly never appealed to him, as he vividly illustrates here, though there’s no question that he found great fulfillment. In this memoir, Yeats slowly allows his remarkable life story to unfold while peppering the text with his closely held beliefs. As he recalls the events that led to his imprisonment in South Africa, which included an unexpected moment of prayer with the arresting officers just before they whisked him off to jail, Yeats also introduces us to his worldview, decidedly radical for a man of the church. Sex is not just for procreation, but something to be enjoyed by everyone, he believes, neatly weaving this conviction into the narrative by recalling his nascent fumblings with future wife Alison, the love of his life. (He also offers some interesting thoughts on homosexuality, both in society and within the Catholic Church.) The majority of these pages, however, concern his incarceration at the hands of the South African authorities for refusing to perform military service during the country’s apartheid era. Even here, Yeats is full of surprises, seemingly preferring the time he spent in solitary confinement to his tenure at Pretoria Central Prison, where he encountered some colorful and hair-raising characters. Yeats also examines societal changes in post-apartheid South Africa before concluding with a summation of his unique interpretation of Christian values.
Many well-written insights into how one captivating man’s mind works.