Friday, May 6, 2016

Daniel Berrigan 1921-2016

Remembrances and Discussion

  • Postscript: Daniel Berrigan, 1921-2016, by Paul Elie. New Yorker 05/02/16:
    It’s often forgotten that Berrigan, who was born in 1921 and entered a Jesuit seminary in 1939, was a member of the Second World War generation, not the Vietnam generation with which he is associated. He was six years younger than Merton, who died in 1968, and four years older than O’Connor, who died in 1964. It’s also often forgotten that the actions of the Catonsville Nine divided and challenged the Catholic left, including Berrigan’s counterparts.* “These actions are not ours,” Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker newspaper, said of the Nine’s napalming of draft files. And yet Day maintained her friendship with Berrigan, corresponding with him, hosting him at the Catholic Worker movement’s houses on the Lower East Side, and agreeing wholeheartedly with his wider stance against the Vietnam War.

    Merton, meanwhile, was made nervous by the borderline violence of Berrigan’s actions and by the personal righteousness that Berrigan brought to them: “He’s a bit theatrical these days, now he’s a malefactor—with a quasi-episcopal disarmament emblem strung around his neck like a pectoral cross,” Merton wrote in his journal, in August, 1968. And yet he struck notes of solidarity with the Catonsville Nine, and wrote an essay meant, in part, to help middle-class Catholics understand the action as “in essence non-violent,” even if it “frightened more than it has edified.” The previous October, Merton had advised Berrigan to keep clear of the peace movement’s lust for relevance—“now non-violent, now flower-power, now burn-baby, all sweetness on Tuesday and all hell-fire on Wednesday,” as he described it—and had posited an ideal of the Catholic radical as a person who strove “to give an example of sanity, independence, human integrity, against all establishments and all mass movements.”

  • Betty Medsger The Intercept 05/06/16:
    Asked in 2008 to reflect on his lifetime of lectures on peace, hundreds of poems for peace, and a long rap sheet of arrests for participating in peace protests, Berrigan assessed its meaning with these words: "The good is to be done because it is good, not because it goes somewhere. I believe if it is done in that spirit it will go somewhere, but I don’t know where … I have never been seriously interested in the outcome. I was interested in trying to do it humanely and carefully and nonviolently and let it go."

  • Remembering Daniel Berrigan: A Penniless, Powerful Voice for Peace, by Jim Dwyer. New York Times 05/06/16.

  • How Daniel Berrigan Helped Save My Faith, by Jim Wallis. Huffington Post 05/06/16.

  • Father Daniel Berrigan, Anti-war Hero With a Huge Blindspot, by Howard Lisnoff. Counterpunch 05/06/16. (Ironically, what this liberal author perceives as a deficiency Berrigan would likely characterize as simply an extension of his commitment to the sanctity of life -- namely, his opposition to abortion):
    “Despite his image as a radical leftist, Berrigan was also an outspoken opponent of abortion” (“Daniel Berrigan, leading Catholic pacifist, dead at 94,” Crux: Taking the Catholic Pulse, May 1, 2016). At a Catholic parish in Milwaukee in 1984, he described his “theory of allowable murder” in society. He explained that Christians need to have no part in “abortion, war, paying taxes for war [or] disposing of people on death row or warehousing the aged.” He continued that “One cannot be pro-life and against a nuclear freeze… or be a peace activist and defend abortion.”

  • Poet and Prophet, by Luke Hansen, S.J. 05/6/17:
    In Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, [Thomas] Merton described Berrigan as “an altogether winning and warm intelligence and a man who, I think, has more than anyone I have ever met the true wide-ranging and simple heart of the Jesuit: zeal, compassion, understanding, and uninhibited religious freedom. Just seeing him restores one’s hope in the Church.”

  • Berrigan and the Peace Movement Slideshow. America 05/6/17.

1 comment:

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