Blase Bonpane, religious rebel and renegade, has lived a life inspired by the prospect of peace in our world. Director of the Office of the Americas, weekly radio host of World Focus on KPFK 90.7FM Los Angeles, and author of numerous books, the tireless activist turns to the subject of his own life in his latest work, Imagine No Religion: The Autobiography of Blase Bonpane, which he'll be presenting at the Anaheim Unitarian-Universalist Church this Friday.
Of course, here in Orange County, we best remember him–even if we have never heard of a Blase Bonpane in our life–for his legendary scuffle with the late, great Wally George.
The former Maryknoll priest and practitioner of liberation theology retraces his steps starting from his upbringing an Italian-American household distrustful of the Catholic Church. Bonpane entered the seminary anyway and in the times of Vatican II, went off as a Maryknoll missioner in Guatemala, a country in revolutionary tumult, until being expelled in 1967. The Church wished to keep him silent, but Bonpane went to the Washington Post to reveal all that he had seen in the Central American country.
The decision, guided by his conscience, led to his split with the Maryknoll Order. Bonpane would later go on to academia, met and marry his future wife Theresa Killen, herself a former Maryknoll sister, as the two founded the Office of the Americas continuing their commitment to social justice ever after.
For old school, hardcore OC politicos, they'll remember a highly sensationalized 1983 appearance by Bonpane on Hot Seat, Wally George's legendary show. Arguing about the U.S. invasion of Grenada, George grabbed his guest roughly by the shoulder, before Bonpane, running on the passion of the moment, went all 'Jesus to the money changers' overturning his desk and walking out of the building. GANGSTA! George called Bonpane the next day wanting to keep the animosity between them going for the good of his show's ratings, but was flatly refused.
Going back to the book, Imagine No Religion has received high praise from leftist luminaries including Noam Chomsky himself who wrote, “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.” You can hear it from the man himself this Friday when he is the featured guest for Unitarian-Universalist Church's monthly Program for Progressives series.
The event will happen at 7 p.m. at the UU Church, 511 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, and the phone number is (714) 758-1050. See you there!