4 out of 4 stars
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"I'm finally coming to realize that a life connected to Jesus results in a life that loves more, forgives more, and gives more. Through Jesus, we stay connected with God and one another." Father Harry J. Bury
Father Harry J. Bury is not your typical Roman Catholic priest. Maverick Priest, A Story of Life on the Edge is the first-person narrative of his journey as a messenger of love, peace, and nonviolent political activism.
At eighty-eight years of age, Father Bury's story of his experiences as a priest, professor, and peace activist reads like an adventure novel. His desire to live a life that makes a difference has often placed him in danger with foreign governments. He served alongside Mother Teresa of Calcutta and participated in the release of American POWs in Vietnam. Spanning over sixty years, he has traveled to Vietnam, India, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Thailand, Israel, and Palestine. He was arrested at the Pentagon, chained to the American Embassy gates in Saigon, and abducted at gunpoint in Gaza. He is a Professor Emeritus of Organizational Behavior and Administration and taught at Baldwin Wallace University for thirty years. He currently serves as a facilitator on the nonviolence committee for the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests. On International Peace Day, September 21, they will be initiating Ten Days of Nonviolence in hopes of creating a nonviolent environment in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
I was enthralled and inspired by the life of service the author has lived. His conversational first-person narrative brought his travels and experiences to life comparable to an adventure movie. The well-written memoir evoked a range of emotions including excitement, frustration, compassion, and joy. The author has truly lived a life that has made a difference, yet he was able to relate his experiences with a voice of humility, which I commend and admire. I was particularly moved by a story he shared during his time serving with Mother Teresa. He described a room housing nine large mattresses with as many one-to two-year-old babies playing on each one. Bury and his companions spent the day simply holding and playing with the abandoned children.
Adding another layer of interest to his story are the interesting people Bury met during his travels. John Denver, and Peter and Mary of the musical group Peter, Paul, and Mary, actually performed concerts as fundraisers on behalf of his travels. He credits Joan Baez for challenging his thinking regarding the hippie movement, which she considered detrimental to the peace movement. Additionally, the book is filled with wise spiritual quotes from the author, so much so that I would enjoy reading a book of his quotes alone.
“If I were to allow someone else to bring unhappiness upon me, I’d be giving away the power and control over my own life that God gave me. Not to accept this gift of power and control would signify a lack of gratitude to God.” Father Harry J. Bury
I found the chapters detailing the author's experiences in Vietnam to be a bit repetitious, and the timeline for this content was less organized than the rest of the book. For example, the book opens with the author's arrest at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, Vietnam, in October of 1971. After the first two chapters, the timeline resumes in chronological order. However, when the ninth chapter returns to Vietnam, a few months prior to the arrest at the beginning, it was necessary to thumb back to the beginning of the book for clarity.
I'm pleased to rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The organizational issues previously mentioned did not significantly detract from my reading enjoyment. Furthermore, I noted only a single grammatical error. The author is described as a warrior of peace and as might be expected, is quite passionate about his political views. Even so, one does not necessarily have to agree with his political views to be inspired by the book. I recommend it to readers who appreciate inspirational stories, especially those interested in peaceful activism.
Maverick Priest, A Story of Life on the Edge
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