Happy Birthday Dan Berrigan!

"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
For we are sick at heart our hearts
give us no rest for thinking of the Land of Burning Children
and for thinking of that other Child of whom
the poet Luke speaks .... "

Dan Berrigan's Meditation on the Action of the Catonsville 9


We are grateful to Pax Christi USA for reminding us that Daniel Berrigan, S.J., celebrates his 90th today. Here's a bio of Berrigan from Jonah House, and here is a recent profile from one of our own venerable retired Jesuits (retired that is, inasmuch as any Jesuit around here retires), George Anderson: "Looking Back in Gratitude." For those too young to be familiar with Berrigan's exploits, a visit with wikipedia may be in order. Berrigan will never be beloved in certain quarters, but I have to be impressed by any man who appears (or was it brother Phil? Or neither?) as a pivotal character in a Paul Simon tune.

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Mark Harden
7 years 8 months ago
Happy birthday, Father! 

''the Land of Burning Children''

Berrigan no doubt refers to the famous Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of the naked, burned girl running from her napalmed village. Insofar as his poem implies the United States itself was directly to blame, surely a corrective is appropriate: The Fraud Behind The Girl In The Photo

Vince Killoran
7 years 8 months ago
"Not directly to blame":

That's a good one, given that the South Vietnamese government was funded and shored up by the American government & military
Kevin McManus
7 years 8 months ago
We love you Father Dan! Thank you for your steadfast witness and courage all these years.
PJ Johnston
7 years 8 months ago
Happy Birthday Fr. Dan!
Eileen Sadasiv
7 years 8 months ago
Fáilte lá breithe.  Go raibh míle maith agaibh as bhur gcúnamh.  (Happy birthday.  Thank you for all you and your brother and Mo have done to lead us.)  Go méadaí Dia is Muire thú. (May God and Mary keep you.)
Mark Harden
7 years 8 months ago

I don't want to track off to a Vietnam War debate, but I also did not want to let your thoughtful comment go unacknowledged.

Yes, "War is Hell", and Sherman did not mean in the sense of "War is a Bitch" but in a more theological(?) sense of war is the ultimate absence of love, where disagreement and hatred go to the point of literally trying to kill each other, with our bare hands if need be. War is Hell on earth as certainly as the Mass is Heaven on earth.

So, the Vietnam War was, in that broadest sense, a tragedy, as are all wars to some extent, even Just Wars. I was ignorant of the dating of Fr Berrigan's poem, so insofar as he is writing in the "War is Hell" context, he is correct. But I hope he has similarly condemned the Communists who were the aggressors in that war from the start. I'm not that familiar with the details of his anti-war activity. Did he do as so many celebrity protestors (Jane Fonda, etc) did and not merely oppose US involvement, but actively support the North Vietnamese? Hopefully not, in which case more power to him.


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