Memoirs aren’t really something that I go for, and I never thought I’d find myself drawn to a memoir written by a priest. However, I was pleasantly surprised.
Acts of Forgiveness: Faith Journeys of a Gay Priest by Ted Karpf
In 1980s America, coming out as gay as a father and husband was a significant journey for anyone to make. Coming out as gay as a priest guaranteed immersion into controversy, contradiction, and challenge. This book tells of the Reverend Canon Ted Karpf’s navigation of new social and romantic journeys, all within the context of his priestly vocation in the Episcopal Church. Covering from 1968 to 2018, Karpf recounts his vivid memories, life-changing dreams and resonant reflections on living a life of faith in a socially and politically tumultuous period. His narratives are crafted as poetic meditations on enduring values and meaning, which can remind any reader that we are neither abandoned nor alone, and that forgiveness is a fulfilling way of living in a world of contradictions.
There were two aspects to this book for me: Ted’s personal journey and reflection on a religious institution. Let’s start with Ted.
I wasn’t sure if I would like this book based on the first few pages. Ted states that God is an important part of his life and would feature heavily in his memoir. I wasn’t willing to be preached at and a part of my already set the book up as a write-off.
There is no preaching in Ted’s memoir. Of course, there is a lot of religion but nothing is forced. Where I found most value was reading the story of a strong, resilient man who has led a very interesting life. I appreciated how open Ted us in all aspects in his life, and I had nothing but admiration for him in his work in HIV/AIDS.
What was also interesting for me was to get a glimpse of religion beyond the Catholic Church. I probably shouldn’t have been, but I was surprised to see the politics of the entire organisation. What was more shocking to me was how certain church officials shunned those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
In the end, I quite enjoyed Ted’s memoir. There was a lot to learn from it and I’m happy to have received an insight into Ted’s life.
Purchase your copy of Acts of Forgiveness here.