Monday, August 2, 2010

an integrated conscience

"one woman i know has sat in and been arrested at both abortion clinics and the pentagon. thus enraging someone in both places. her crime: an integrated conscience."- Daniel Berrigan


  1. Beth,

    I followed the link and found the quote interesting.

    I was actually an active member of the peace movement in my youth and was quickly turned off - not by peace but by the leadership and the aggression of the movement. (I was a very young member of the student mobilization commitee toward its end.)

    I remember as a very young man, more of a boy really, sitting on the steps of the Capital building at one of the last moratorium marches against the war (Viet Nam). Looking out over 200,000 people as County Joe and the Fish sang what i have now come to know as angry and vulgar songs, I was struck by a deep sadness - knowing that while we all had a music, drug and sex fueled party on the mall that my friends were dying in the jungle. It hit me that if we were really sincere that we would have arrived in silence, prayed together as once voice and stood in silent vigil for all those hours. That would have been a protest that could have not been ignored or dismissed.

    It is not the going to jail - as you said Dr King went to jail - It is finding a way to bring God to a place with His power, not ours.

    I have no doubt about Fr. Berrigan’s love of God. I just think that we do better representing the still peace of God in all his power. Later, I too went to jail - it is good to stand on consistent principle but to do so lovingly and without any aggression or self serving behavior.

    I am willing to learn what you know of Dan Berrigan though we may agree to disagree with his methods - I think we both will agree that he is a man of God.

    And His superiors did order him at one point to stand down. Why they did not enforce their position is a mystery to me.

  2. I know what you mean, Br. William, about being turned off by some of the leadership of the so-called "Peace Movements". I share that with you.

    And I totally agree with you about needing to be peaceful and nonviolent in the way we go about protest and resistance. I think that you'll find that all of my thoughts on this blog reflect that attitude. Certainly Merton reflected it, as does Dan Berrigan does too. The difference between Dan and Merton was one of "activism". There is a point in one's spirituality where one must move out from prayer into the world, and speak/act. How to do that with integrity is the task. When one is not grounded, spiritually, it's going to just add to the chaos and confusion, and that's what you see in a lot of "Peace Movements". I think that Merton knew what Berrigan was about, and trusted his movement and action in the world. He, himself (Merton), felt his connection with Berrigan to be vital to his own spiritual integrity. He had to be, in some real way, connected with the people who were "activists". You have to walk the talk. Be what you say you believe, in the world. Otherwise it's all just talk.

  3. As for Berrigan's relationship with his Jesuit superiors, I'm sure he caused them some indigestion, but they have supported him and been blessed by him.

  4. I think I recall that when Merton heard about the Catonsville Nine action he was quite upset - he thought they had gone too far.

    My experience with Catholics in the peace movement was that some tended to wear their crosses on their sleeve - but that's understandable.

    I approached Fr. Berrigan through the back door of his poetry and then into his actions. For me, the actions function prophetically.

    Catonsville still amazes me: a priest is put on the FBI's most wanted list for burning paper protesting the burning of children.

    The anniversary of Hiroshima bombing is coming up. Americans won't look at that either.

    How does it go? A prophet is not accepted in his own country.

    I see your point Anon and thanks for sharing.

  5. The thing that really got Merton upset was the Roger Laporte burning. I don't recall his comments on the Cantonsville 9 action.

    Yeah, Hiroshima is another one.

    Thanks, Marc, you have an innate insight into the prophetic witness of Catholicism, and the ability to say it without a cross on your sleeve.

  6. Hello Beth,

    The Blessings of our Lord be with you today.

    I took time this morning to do as you asked and review your Berrigan postings. Quiet impressive, it is obvious the respect and love you have for him. As I said before, my main information was from the corporate news media and I should have known to take that with a grain of salt.

    I know that we need those like Fr. Dan who will be active in the world, but after so many years working in the world - mostly ministering to the sick ( first as a med. tech and later as a psychologist) and for a while moving across the line and trying to arrest evil by force, I have come to believe that our greatest hope is finding ways to not just bring Christ's message to people but to bring more and more people to live in Christ. Finding a way to do that is the challenge since all too often those in the pulpit soft sell, if they sell at all, the gospel. I believe that this is much the reason for church decline - people, average people, want truth and in church they all too often get pabulum instead of spiritual direction.

    As for me - at this time I have chosen a path of deeper prayer and living in obedience to God's will for me. I suspect Fr. Dan being deeply Ignatian in his approach is doing the same. The Lord's path for each of us is distinct and unique - leading us each in his way for us to minister to the world. He is doing that with you in this Blog.

    I look forward to reading more about the tension and balance of Fr. Louis' contemplative way and Fr. Dan's active way. Somewhere in the middle there is a balance - I know each man lived an aspect of our Savior's life in their life. And maybe that is all we can hope for - each of us taking up some part of the life of Christ and together, in the body of Christ, bringing his message of mercy to the whole world.

    Thanks for you good work.

    May the Mercy of the Lord be with you always.

    Br. William OSB

  7. Thank you, Br. William.

    I'm never quite sure what I'm doing with this blog, other than collecting things that somehow speak to me. I appreciate your comments and your interest.



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