OURS: The Making and Unmaking of a Jesuit by F. E. Peters

OURS: The Making and Unmaking of a Jesuit

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A stylish, cheerful, acidulous memoir by an ex-seminarian--that doesn't quite land anywhere. Peters, now a professor of Islamic Studies at N.Y.U., spent nine uneventful years in the Society. Apparently trying to lend his story an air of timelessness he gives not a single date, but his reference to the Marian Year and his lack of references to politics and social issues make it evident that Peters entered in the early Fifties and left in the early Sixties. That was the last clerical generation before the Flood (Vatican II, Humanae Vitae, civil rights activism, etc.), and in his deft, colorful sketches the members of this group came to life as the charmingly boyish inhabitants of a vanished world--something like Tom Brown's Schooldays revised by J. F. Powers. On the other hand, the Fifties were a great era of Catholic piety, and religious feeling of any sort is conspicuous by its absence here. One believes Peters when he says that he simply wanted to be like the ""quick, intelligent, detached and amusing"" young Jesuits who taught him in high school, that the Society was a highway leading from the parochial Bronx to a truly ""catholic"" mental horizon; but this leaves us wondering what drove Peters and his companions--all more or less healthy, red-blooded lads--to the monastic isolation of St. Andrew-on-Hudson and an existence there that sounds like an ascetical-devotional ordeal. Yet if the book fails as spiritual drama (in the end Peters simply woke up one morning in the Jesuit house of studies in Louvain and realized he wanted out), it succeeds as an urbane monologue by a man who claims to ""view life through Jesuit eyes and greet it with Jesuit laughter. Sans vows. Sans prayer. Sans faith. Sans everything but gratitude."" Narrowly conceived but elegantly executed.

Pub Date: May 4th, 1981
ISBN: 1593334508
Publisher: Marek--dist. by Putnam