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My Struggle for Freedom: A Memoir Paperback – 1 Jan 2005
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'Kung's autobiography is an honest exposure of the politics of the Catholic Church, the foibles of recent popes, and the internal workings of the powerful Curia in Rome.'
'...#252;ng constantly demonstrates precisely why he has to disagree with officialdom.'--, "Church Times "
'...A splendid book, packed with theological insights, as Kung constantly demonstrates precisely why he has to disagree with officialdom.'--Sanford Lakoff "Church Times "
'Fans of Hans Kung who have not yet seen this important book will no doubt want to...Controversial, vigorous, courageous, always thoughtful, exciting, an elder stateman, friend of presidents, prime ministers and governments...Kung was one of Kofi Anna's 'Group of eminent persons'....The man and the theology aer bound togther with passon and excitment...The end result will be rewarding.' David Tennant, Baptist Times, 15 June 2006--Sanford Lakoff "Baptist Times "
From the Back Cover
Hans Kung is undoubtedly one of the most important theologians of our time, but he has always been a controversial figure, and as the result of a much-publicized clash over papal infallibility had his permission to teach revoked by the Vatican. Yet at seventy-five years of age Kung is also something of a senior statesman, one of the -Group of Eminent Persons convened by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and a friend of heads of government like Britain's Tony Blair and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.
In this fascinating autobiography Kung gives a frank and outspoken account of the first four decades of his life. He tells of his youth in Switzerland and his decision to become a priest, of his doubts and struggles as he studied in Rome and Paris, and of his experiences as a professor in Tubingen, where he received a chair at the early age of thirty-one. Most importantly, as one of the last surviving eyewitnesses of Vatican II, Kung gives an authentic account of the conflicts behind the scenes. Here it becomes clear just how major an influence he was, to the point of shaping the Council's agenda and drafting speeches for bishops to deliver in plenary sessions.
Kung's book offers an acute analysis, compelling in its drama, of meetings with presidents like John F. Kennedy, popes like John XXIII and Paul VI, great theologians like Karl Barth and Karl Rahner, and journeys around the world. With its rich thought and vivid narrative, it paints a moving picture of Kung's personal convictions, including his relentless struggle for a Christianity characterized not by the domination of an official church but by Jesus. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Hans Kung is one of the most influential, and in some circles, most controversial theologians of the last century. This first part of his autobiography covers standard areas one would expect to be included, family background and such like, but by far the greater part of the book focuses on Kung's theological formation in Rome and his subsequent role during the Second Vatican Council.
The book is surprising in many respects, not least in Kung's rapier-like ability to settle old scores. On this evidence I would far rather have Kung as a friend than an enemy! His settling of old scores is not gratuitous but it is clinical. Several times I'm sure I actually said 'Ouch!' as I read his critique of those who had crossed him. Furthermore, whilst I was not surprised to read of the background machinations that surrounded the Council, the detail in which the story is told from Kung's unique vantage point makes this compelling reading.
Two major emphases in the book stand out for me. Firstly, the missed opportunity that was the second Vatican Council. With a pasionate exposition of the times and the personalities involved, Kung outlines the critical decisions taken by Pope John XXIII in calling the Council. The tremendous faith and vision of the man in daring to seize the moment, but the fatal mistake in not recognising the need to sweep away the Curia 'old guard' (which was within his power) in order to place reformers in charge of the reform agenda.
Secondly, Kung weaves into his own story the ways in which his path has crossed time and again by some of the key personalities of late 20th century theology. Men like Karl Barth, Ernst Kasemann, Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Rudolf Bultmann, Yves Congar, Karl Rahner and a host of others richly populate these pages. The book devotes little space to specific discussion of their theology, but there is enough here to understand a little of the distinctive contributions these men brought to their quest for truth and understanding, and the extent to which some suffered because their views were not acceptable to Rome.
At the end I was left wondering why Kung didnt leave the Catholic Church and becoming a famous cross-bench dissenter! That he didn't is a cause for celebration for it is likely that the lasting contribution of this theological genius is that he stayed within and sowed the seeds of future theological reformation within the Catholic Church.
I eagerly await Volume II but I don't imagine the current Curia share this enthusiasm!
I thoroughly recommend this book which opens his life story interwoven with theological debate which is even more relevant today.For anyone who has a heart for the Church and wants to understand the struggle for greater unity.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Oddly, the book is written (or translated?) all in the present tense, which can be confusing at times, when some use of past tense might distinguish between what Kung thought at the time and thinks now. I don't know if this is the translator, or the author himself; at times it gets annoying and tedious, even occasionally sounding pompous, which is not characteristic of Kung judging from everything else (and that's practically his entire opus available in English) I've read of his work.
At any rate, the use of present tense is strange even in a memoir; I encountered it once previously in a biography, and almost couldn't finish that book.
Kung's memoir also contains some assessments of others (including the late and current popes) that come off unkind and "snarky", which also doesn't seem typical of Kung, even in dealing with opponents, who I think he typically confounds by courteously sticking to his position and insisting on truth. I can't help wondering if some of the "snarkiness" is also a product of the translation.
Also, there are, as noted by a previous reviewer, some odd translation errors, such as calling the USA Secretary of the Treasury "Finance Minister"; again, perhaps translation, or could be the translator trying to stay "true" (unnecessarily, in my view) to Kung's German? I have ordered the German edition (along with the new "Islam" volume) out of curiosity on this point. My German is labored, but I'm anxious to get started on the Islam volume, which could problably prove dangerous to Kung himself if it goes in the direction I suspect (urging modernization by subjecting the Islamic "scriptures" to exegesis, historical and form criticism commonly applied now for decades in Christian scriptural scholarship.)
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