The Life Journey of a Joyful Man of God: The Autobiographical Memoirs of Adrian van Kaam
From the infamous Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944-1945, we travel with Fr. Adrian van Kaam from that bleak period through the renewal of his life’s work in the United States. This book traces Fr. Adrian’s appraisal of his life in the harshness of the Hunger Winter through his brilliant configuration of a new science, anthropology, and theology of human and Christian formation.
From the infamous Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944-1945, we travel with Fr. Adrian from that bleak period through the renewal of his life’s work in the United States. Few know what happened to Western and Northern Holland after the defeat of the Allies in spite of their heroic combat in the famed battle of Arnhem. The Allied troops and their commanders felt compelled to press eastward from Holland into Germany. They had to leave behind this part of the Netherlands whose population became cut off from the rest of liberated Europe. Surviving in a kind of limbo, harassed by a foreign regime and its small quota of Dutch collaborators, short of food, clothing, shoes, fuel, and medicine, much of the Dutch population starved to death and succumbed to illness — all the while tottering on the verge of despair.
Born twenty–four years earlier on April 19, 1920, in The Hague to Charles and Anna van Kaam, neither Adrian nor his three sisters, Bep, Lia, and Leonie could have imagined how this event would change the course of their lives. As this remarkable memoir will reveal, these years found Father van Kaam alternating between two emotional polarities —extreme gladness and equally extreme sadness. Gladness about the divine invitations this horrific time of loss allowed into his life and sadness because of how easy it might have been to miss the meaning of what God intended for his destiny and that of countless others. Happily for us, Fr. van Kaam opted for searing honesty in tracing the origins of his formational concepts not to abstract reasoning or idle curiosity but to deeply felt experiences that cut a trail through the dense underbrush of humanity’s need to grasp life’s meaning at the marrow of the bone. He traces his thoughts about the vicissitudes of life to their roots in the harshness of the reality of the Hunger Winter when failed expectations gave way to the brilliant light of building a new science, anthropology, and theology of human and Christian formation. [Editor Susan Muto / Pub Wipf & Stock]