From Publishers Weekly
Nobel Peace Prize–winner Desmond Tutu, who lived through South African apartheid and helped to clean up its criminal consequences by chairing the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, could write a grocery list and people would get something out of it. With his daughter Mpho, an Episcopal priest in Washington, D.C., the retired Anglican archbishop writes a relatively personal book about his fundamental, faith-based beliefs about human nature: people are basically good because they are made in God's image. He maintains this in the face of the horrific events he has witnessed in his country and elsewhere, and he bases his belief in part on simple experiences throughout his life that have involved family and, significantly, his failures. Tutu's humility is striking; he is comfortable in his own skin despite being raised in a culture that officially deemed his skin color second-class. This book is not nearly as dramatic or compelling as No Future Without Forgiveness
, based on his work with the Reconciliation Commission; on the other hand, it is heartening to know, or remember, that faith can be learned, reinforced, and expressed as much around the dinner table as in the public square.
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As head of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Tutu reached a world audience in his call for forgiveness for apartheid perpetrators who confessed to horrific evil and said they were sorry. Writing here with his daughter, also a minister, he insists that, with all the horror he has heard about and witnessed, We are fundamentally good. Racism has to be learned. It is not an instinct. Sin is real. But goodness is normative. Even readers not focused on the religious debate will be drawn to this account for the insider’s view of the history and the personal struggle with forgiveness. Inspired by heroes of many faiths, including Father Trevor Huddleston; Afrikaaans cleric Beyers Naude; the kids in the 1976 Soweto riots; the parents of murdered Amy Biehl; and, of course, by Mandela, Gandhi, King, and Mother Teresa, Tutu is also haunted by his own failure to forgive his father before he died. The personal perspective will spark discussion about the bigger issues of morality, politics, and religion. If God is all-powerful, why do we suffer? --Hazel Rochman