Daniel Berrigan, Societas Iesu

posted by Mike on September 29th, 2005

All My Heroes Have FBI FilesFirst century Christians were seen as a threat to the powerful. Twenty-first century Christians are not. (First century Christian hipsters probably wore buttons reading: “All My Heroes Are Martyrs.”)

Last night, Father Dan Berrigan, Jesuit priest and FBI “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” laureate, read some of his poetry about war at Worcester’s College of the Holy Cross.

A noted anti-war activist, his most spectacular crimes are behind him, but his example continues to inspire others.

After the reading, a student asked him what he thought of the quote that “If Gandhi had lived in Nazi Germany, he would have been made into a lampshade.” Father Berrigan responded:

I think the quotation reflects ignorance of nonviolence. It’s not primarily a tactic at all. It’s a style, a way of living, a way to say yes, finally. . . .

Gandhi’s great concern was not success at all, it was living humanly, and taking a chance.

Another student asked: What would happen to Jesus in Nazi Germany?

It seems to me that in any would-be empire, or actual empire, Jesus does not fare very well.

Father Berrigan emphasized the importance of “spiritual discipline, prayer, and sacrament,” and said he believed that doing good always bears fruit, even if the doer does not live to see it, and even if doing good seems futile:

Some people have decided, in a dark corner of their heart, that because they could not do something quote “effective,” they will do nothing.

Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, Tom Lewis, Daniel Berrigan. Photo: Kevin Ksen.
Tom Lewis (center) and Father Daniel Berrigan (right) chat with a fan in the Holy Cross cafeteria. Photo: Kevin Ksen.

Speaking of taking action, the second issue of “Blank Canvas” is out. It’s probably Worcester County’s best magazine of art and wisdom. Gary Dusoe writes, of the coming Peak Oil crisis and the lack of national leadership on this issue:

I believe that now more than ever we as a community need to harness our collective energy. Artists and activists from all walks of life must unite to begin the hard work of informing and preparing our communities for the times that lie ahead.

Some would say that it is not the artist’s place to make a difference, just as some would say that priests should not take public stands on political issues.

But when the artist is willing to make a difference, you get something like the impending junk shop Happy Birthday Mike Leslie:

It’s no secret by now that we aim to make this store a catalyst for change–a change in the way art is appreciated and products are consumed, a change in the way many people view artists as a category of person different from themselves, and a change in the manner people approach their city, their possessions, the capitalist system as it is, and hopefully, their lives.

As the people of Scranton were once challenged by the visionary junk shop Mertz Hardware, may the people of Wormtown be challenged by HBML.

And as the early Christians were challenged by the example of Christ and the martyrs, may we be challenged by them and by the holy people of our time.

“All My Heroes Have FBI Files” graphic used with kind permission of Herbivore Clothing Company.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a comment