Archives For Vietnam

 

“Finally Comes the Poet

A Review of
Daniel Berrigan: Essential Writings.
Selected and Introduced by John Dear.

Reviewed by Stephen Lawson.

After the seas are all cross’d, (as they seem already cross’d,)
After the great captains and engineers have accomplish’d their work,
After the noble inventors, after the scientists, the chemist, the
geologist, ethnologist,

Finally shall come the poet worthy that name,
The true son of God shall come singing his songs.
– Walt Whitman

Daniel Berrigan: Essential Writings.
Selected and Introduced by John Dear.
Paperback: Orbis Books, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Daniel Berrigan: Essential WritingsOn May 17, 1968, in the midst of the Vietnam War, Daniel Berrigan, together with his brother Philip and seven others, walked into a draft office in Cantonsville, Maryland. They commandeered draft files, which contained the information for potential draftees, took them into the parking lot and burned them with homemade napalm. Daniel Berrigan issued an apology (read: defense) on behalf of the ‘Cantonsville Nine’ (as they came to be known): “Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise” (105).

This prophetic action cause national controversy. In the midst of an already highly controversial war, the Cantonsville Nine brought religion into the discussion. How could priests and other peaceable people disrupt the status quo of in such a stark way? This action saw the imprisonment of Christians, clergy and laity alike, for living out what they believed was their faith. This witness is a challenge to other Christians who have so often been complicit in war and violence.
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Why does no one today speak as boldly and as eloquently against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as Dr. King did against the Vietnam War? It’s amazing how relevant his message against American militarism is today — 40+ years later.

You need, I need and we all need to watch these videos and to be challenged by the faithful boldness of Dr. King.



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