Monday, August 8, 2016

Daniel Berrigan

Daniel Berrigan (1921—2016) is a Jesuit priest and activist who, along with his brother Philip, spoke out as Christians against the Vietnam War. He is the author of more than 50 books, including several collections of poetry. He is the first priest to ever be on the FBI's "most wanted list", he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine in 1971, and is that "radical priest" referred to in Paul Simon's song "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard". He was sentenced to three years in prison for burning 378 draft files, taken from a draft-board office in Cantonville, Maryland — and was released in 1972.

He died on April 30th at the age of 94. Berrigan is featured in the August 2016 issue of Sojourners. Jim Wallis, one of the writers honouring Daniel Berrigan in that issue, wrote:
-----"Here were some Christians who were saying and doing what I
-----thought the gospel said—and what nobody in my white evangelical
-----world was saying or doing. The witness of the Berrigans helped
-----keep my hope for faith from dying altogether. African-American
-----Christians fighting for justice and that 'Berrigan handful' of
-----Christians fighting for peace paved the way for my return to

The following poem is from Daniel Berrigan's book, And the Risen Bread: Selected Poems, 1957—1997 .

A Prayer to the Blessed Trinity

I'm locked into the sins of General Motors
My guts are in revolt at the culinary equivocations of General Foods
Hang over me like an evil shekinah, the missiles of General Electric.
Now we shall go from the Generals to the Particulars.
Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Let me shake your right hands in the above mentioned order
Unmoved Motor, Food for Thought, Electric One.
I like you better than your earthly idols.
You seem honest and clear-minded and reasonably resolved
To make good on your promise.
Please: owe it to yourselves not less than to us,
Warn your people: beware of adulterations.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.