humanly and carefully and nonviolently – the example of Dan Berrigan

[Rev. Dan Berrigan, hero of the resistance to the Vietnam War, died on April 30, 2016. The following is an excerpt from a tribute by Chris Hedges.]

Dan provided, for me, the most cogent definition of religious faith.

“The good is to be done because it is good, not because it goes somewhere,” he told me. “I believe if it is done in that spirit it will go somewhere, but I don’t know where. I don’t think the Bible grants us to know where goodness goes, what direction, what force. I have never been seriously interested in the outcome. I was interested in trying to do it humanly and carefully and nonviolently and let it go.”

A bagpiper played as Dan’s casket was loaded into the back of a silver and black hearse outside the basilica. Hundreds of mourners, their cheeks streaked by rain and tears, filled the street. I stood on the steps.

It was a few blocks from here, at the shrine of the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, that Dan baptized my youngest daughter five years ago. He cradled her in his arms and spoke of faith as resistance. He reminisced about marching in Selma with Dr. King. He asked us to each say out loud what qualities we hoped my daughter would possess. Dan said he wished for “a sense of humor.”

The hearse moved slowly down the vacant street. A man held his fist in the air. Some in the crowd sang a hymn. When the hearse reached the end of the street, its luminous red taillight began to blink on and off in the drizzle, signaling a right turn. Then it was gone.

A change is coming. I can feel it.

– Chris Hedges, reflecting on his friendship with Rev. Daniel Berrigan who died on April 30

The following is from the statement Dan Berrigan wrote when a group known as the Catonsville Nine burned 378 draft files with homemade napalm to protest the war:

We could not so help us God do otherwise
For we are sick at heart
Our hearts give us no rest for thinking of the Land of Burning Children …
We say: Killing is disorder
life and gentleness and community and unselfishness
is the only order we recognize …
How long must the world’s resources
be raped in the service of legalized murder?
When at what point will you say no to this war?
We have chosen to say
with the gift of our liberty
if necessary our lives:
the violence stops here
the death stops here
the suppression of the truth stops here
this war stops here …

words of truth and reconciliation

[We’ve had some important insights here at SSU through the first public lectures in our First Nations Voices and Themes series. We’ve also been challenged to make ourselves aware of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s “Calls to Action.” Here is one section relevant for us:]

We call upon leaders of the church parties to the
Settlement Agreement and all other faiths, in
collaboration with Indigenous spiritual leaders,
Survivors, schools of theology, seminaries, and other
religious training centres, to develop and teach
curriculum for all student clergy, and all clergy and
staff who work in Aboriginal communities, on the need
to respect Indigenous spirituality in its own right, the
history and legacy of residential schools and the roles
of the church parties in that system, the history and
legacy of religious conflict in Aboriginal families and
communities, and the responsibility that churches have
to mitigate such conflicts and prevent spiritual violence.

TRC’s “Calls to Action” – article 60

wendell berry on peace

Peace assuredly would pay even larger dividends [than war], but to the wrong people. It is not at all clear how you could make a billion dollars by being peaceable. And so we don’t consider or study the means of peace, or make them available to our leaders. We speak well of peace, we say we want it, we have paid the lives of innumerable other people and unaccountable wealth supposedly to get it, but we seem not to mind, we seem not to notice, that all we have got for so much loss, for so long, is more war….

Of course Christians want to kill the enemies of Christians. How could this not be so when Christians have so often and so happily killed other Christians? But it is remarkable and disturbing that Christians were pointedly instructed by Christ not to do this. In most of historical and institutional Christianity there appears to be a void where should have appeared Christ’s requirement that we should love, bless, do good to, and pray for our enemies, and forgive those who offend us. In order to end war, somebody, some nation, would have to stop fighting. In order to stop fighting there would need to be an alternative, something to do instead. After 2,000 years all Christian nations and most churches have found nothing preferable to war.

Only a few marginal Christians have dared to think that Christianity calls for the radical neighborhood, servanthood, love, and forgiveness that Christ taught. I agree with them, and much against my nature I have tried to make my thoughts consent.

– Wendell Berry, from an interview in The American Conservative

which parade?

[this is an excerpt from an article written by SSU alumnus, David Moore, printed in the Santa Barbara News-Press following a peaceful protest in the wake of the non-indictment after the Ferguson shooting]

Jesus occupied Jerusalem, and in his case, it meant occupying the Empire. On the Sunday before he was executed by the state, he led a peace march. His
procession countered another that happened annually on the other side of the city, on the same day, led by the Roman governor. Jesus rode a donkey. Pilate rode a horse.
This official’s objective was to prevent uprisings among the masses who traveled from many places for their festival.

Pilate’s procession, with hundreds of noisy boots, helmets, shields and swords clanging to ensure crowd control was an institution. Jesus’ procession was revolutionary, armed
only with truth. Later, Jesus told his followers, “This is my body, given for you,” while offering them bread, and “this is my blood, shed for you,” inaugurating the Eucharist, the
meal that Christians still share, commemorating his sacrifice. When we share this meal, and symbolically by extenuation, every meal, we remind ourselves that his was a given life. This life nourishes us with strength to resist forces that mistreat and dishearten us, armed with truth.

In the Eucharist anger becomes love. In every shared meal, I am energized to become involved in others’ struggles. The struggling are those who have most reason to be angry. They are the most nonthreatening and vulnerable members of our society if they discover what to do with their anger. Come to this table. Come, eat this bread and drink this wine. You will be revitalized.

My redeemer says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for justice’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Powerless ones, lay down your meager arms; discover truth. Be angry about narratives, like much state-sanctioned education, and other propaganda. I include most traditional
media. Be angry over resignation to an emergent police state. Most of Tuesday night’s demonstrators found out about our demonstration via social media.

I am angry about the ongoing theft of Jesus’ lovely message by those who use it to reinforce power and make loud the voices of those who are not voiceless. They support the wrong procession, the wrong parade.

– David Moore, Jr., ThD, has served as pastor for New Covenant Church in Santa Barbara for 31 years.

what if this were mother’s day?

[Shortly after the American Civil War, Julia Ward Howe, issued the declaration below as part of attempting to create a “Mother’s Day for Peace.” More than thirty years later a more politically acceptable (with more, unintended, commercial potential) began with more success. But what if…?]

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, Whether our baptism be of water or of tears! Say firmly: We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: Disarm, disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence vindicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of council.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take council with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, man as the brother of man, each bearing after his own kind the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient, and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

– Julia Ward Howe, 1870