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Imagine No Religion

The Autobiography of Blase Bonpane

Blase Bonpane


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This is the personal story of the life of Blase Bonpane, a vanguard practitioner of liberation theology and a former Maryknoll priest.

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council 1962-1965 many religious people, especially those serving in Latin America, began to understand a spirituality that transcended sectarianism. Having come from an upwardly mobile Italian American family marked by Southern Italian anti-clericalism, Blase was accustomed to hearing his parents express real differences with their institutional church. He went into the seminary despite the avid protests of his parents.

Blase’s odyssey takes us from his high school and college years, through his service in Guatemala during a violent revolution, to his expulsion from that country for “subversion.” After receiving gag order from the Church, which he could not in good conscience accept, Blase met with the editorial board of the Washington Post and released all of the material he had regarding the U.S. military presence in Guatemala. This action led to his separation from the Maryknoll Fathers.

Blase accepted a teaching post at UCLA. While serving in academia, he met the former Maryknoll Sister Theresa Killeen, who had served in Southern Chile. They married in 1970. Their adventures include working directly with Cesar Chavez at his headquarters in La Paz, California, building solidarity with the Central American Revolution, forming the Office of the Americas, working in the forefront of the international movement for justice and peace, and raising two children.

Blase worked on the ground for international peace in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Cuba, Japan and Iraq. He led the U.S. contingent of the International March for Peace in Central America from Panama to Mexico in 1985-1986.

Praise For Imagine No Religion: The Autobiography of Blase Bonpane

“One of the kindest and most generous human beings I have had the privilege to know. In my view he’s truly earned the Nobel Peace Prize. If we had a few more like him, the world would be a far more peaceful place.”
—Oliver Stone

“I first became aware of Blase in the mid-eighties, when he and Theresa were working with the poor and disenfranchised in Central America. He has been a source of inspiration for me ever since. His unrelenting commitment to peace and justice is as extraordinary as his life. He is my personal hero.”
—Paul Haggis

“Blase helps us to understand that the unconventional wisdom of the ages is far more valuable than the conventional hype of the moment.”
—Martin Sheen

“I couldn’t walk in Blase Bonpane’s shoes, they’re too heavy. But I have tried to follow his footsteps which nimbly, deftly, wisely and lovingly try to coax our world into the practice of what it preaches. Not only his feet are prodigious but his hands are the hands of a craftsman, a builder toward those same goals. And to top it off, he’s got the head and heart to guide all four. I have been ennobled by my association with Blase and you will feel similarly having read his autobiography. This is a man for all seasons, all peoples.”
—Edward Asner

“I am often asked by young people, deeply disturbed by the state of the world, 'What can I do to make this sad world a better place?' An eloquent answer now is, “Read Blase Bonpane’s autobiography. If you can aspire to a fraction of what he has achieved, you will look back on a life well lived.”
—Noam Chomsky

Red Hen Press, 9781597096706, 240pp.

Publication Date: October 1, 2011

About the Author

Blase Bonpane is the director of the Office of the Americas. He has served on the faculties of UCLA and California State University Northridge. His articles have been published internationally, and he has worked as a contributor to the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.

Blase previously served as a Maryknoll Missioner in Guatemala during the revolutionary conflict of the 1960s. As a result of his work in peasant organization, he was expelled from that country in 1967. On his return to the United States, Blase and his family lived at the headquarters of United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez, where he was editor of UFW publications.

He is host of the weekly radio program World Focus on Pacifica Radio (KPFK, Los Angeles). Blase previously hosted the program World Focus on Time/Warner TV Educational and Public Access Channels. He was named “the most underrated humanist of the decade” by the Los Angeles Weekly. In 2006, he was awarded the Distinguished Peace Leadership Award by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

His previous books include: Civilization is Possible (Red Hen Press, 2008); Common Sense for the Twenty-first Century (2004); Guerrillas of Peace: On the Air (2000); and Guerrillas of Peace: Liberation Theology and the Central American Revolution (iUniverse, 2000, 3rd edition).