BATTER MY HEART by Donald Hayne


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The fancy title comes from poet John Donne, but everything else in Donald ayne's autobiography is singularly sincere, full of feeling and, in parts, almost frighteningly frank, as if one were overhearing a voice in a confessional. In fact, these revelations, from an ex-priest and ex-monastic, are probably the most intiate spiritual pilgrimage we've had since Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain, if not quite as impressive or intense. It was trial and error for Hayne each step of the way. For one thing there was his supposed sexual aberration (""A atholic homosexual had only one choice: to be strictly celibate. I believed that; and I acted on it""), thus influencing his subsequent ordination. Then there was the chaplaincy at Iowa State and the unsettling influence of Korzybski. ""What if there is nothing?"", Father Hayne asks. Finally a series of theological-psychological explorations and estrangements; he breaks his vows, meets the Vedanta-Hollywood world, undergoes analysis wherein a deep-seated mother complex is cured and, by 40, his heterosexuality established, finds employment with Cecil B. DeMille, attempts the Dominican life but fails, marries, and after fathering two children, fails there, too. Over and over it is the Mother Church which haunts; only able to exist as a layman, unable even to accept all the dogmas, yet he says ""I believe. can do no other"". Hardly a work of art, but it is a life, filled with all those inconsistencies, illuminations and inspirations only hard knocks and honest soul-searching can give.

Publisher: Knopf