Archive for the ‘Daniel Berrigan’ Tag

Feast of John Harris Burt (October 20)   1 comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOHN HARRIS BURT (APRIL 11, 1918-OCTOBER 20, 2009)

Episcopal Bishop of Ohio, and Civil Rights Activist

Bishop John Harris Burt comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via his connection to his father, Bates Gilbert Burt (1878-1948), already here.

John Harris Burt was a native of Michigan.  He, born in Marquette on April 11, 1918, was a son of Father Bates Gilbert Burt and Abigail Gilbert Bates Burt.  Burt, Sr., was the Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Marquette (1904-1922).  Burt, Sr., was later the Rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Pontiac, Michigan (1922-1947).  Our saint, after graduating from high school in Pontiac, matriculated at Amherst College (B.A., 1940).  Then he studied social work for a year at Columbia University, followed by further studies at Virginia Theological Seminary (Class of 1943).

Then Burt began ordained ministry.  He, ordained to the diaconate (1943) then the priesthood (1944), was the canon of the Cathedral chapter of Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral, St. Louis, Missouri, as well as the Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, St. Louis (1943-1944).   He met Martha May Miller at St. Paul’s Church.  Next, Burt served as a chaplain in the United States Navy (1944-1946).  He married Martha on February 16, 1946.  Our saint was also the Episcopal chaplain at The University of Michigan (1946-1950).  He left that post to become the Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Youngstown, Ohio (1950-1957).  As the Rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Pasadena, California (1957-1967), Burt made that parish a leader in social activism.  He was, for example, a prominent ally of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez.

Above:  The Flag of Ohio

Image in the Public Domain

Burt became a bishop.  He, elected in 1966, became the Bishop Coadjutor of Ohio on February 4, 1967.  He succeeded to become the Bishop of Ohio by the end of the year.  Burt served until he retired in 1983.  Our saint was outspoken and active.  He opposed the Vietnam War.  In 1967, Burt spoke at the International Inter-Religious Symposium of Peace in New Delhi, India.  Following the collapse of the steel industry in Youngstown, Ohio, our saint co-founded the Ecumenical Coalition of the Mahoning Valley.  This earned him the Thomas Merton Award, previously given to luminaries, such as Dorothy Day and Daniel Berrigan.  Burt, an early advocate for the ordination to women to the priesthood, promised to resign if the General Convention of 1976 did not approve such ordinations.  It did, much to the consternation of many a traditionalist Anglican.

Burt was active in Christian ecumenism and interfaith relations.  He was, for a time, the President of the Southern California Council of Churches, as well as a representative to the National Council of Churches at another time.  Our saint chaired the denominational Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations (1974-1979).  He worked on Jewish-Christian relations at The Episcopal Church, the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, the United States Holocaust Museum, and the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel.

Burt understood that loving one’s neighbors had practical applications.  Therefore, for example, he worked on energy independence, as well as solutions to economic problems in Ohio and seven nearby states.

Our saint, aged 91 years, died in Marquette, Michigan, on October 20, 2009.  Martha, their four daughters, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren survived him.

Burt said:

The world alters us as we walk in it.

He worked to alter the world for the better as he walked through it.

May each of us do likewise.

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God of Shalom, we thank you for the ministry, international work,

and community development work of your servant, John Harris Burt.

May we also, in the Name of Jesus, pursue peace with our neighbors near and far away,

and build up each other spiritually, economically, and concretely.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Amos 8:1-10

Psalm 1

James 2:14-26

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DONALD S. ARMENTROUT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HADEWIJCH OF BRABERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF KATHE KOLLWITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN ARTIST AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VITALIS OF GAZA, MONK, HERMIT, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 625

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Feast of William Stringfellow (April 28)   1 comment

Above:  William Stringfellow

Fair Use

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FRANK WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW (APRIL 26, 1928-MARCH 2, 1985)

Episcopal Attorney, Theologian, and Social Activist

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I think they need to hear it.

–William Stringfellow, explaining why he read long passages of the Bible to the F.B.I. agents recording his telephone calls

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This is the man America should be listening to.

Karl Barth, on Stringfellow, early 1960s

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It is profane, as well as grandiose, to manipulate the Bible in order to apologize for America.

–William Stringfellow, An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land (1973)

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For thousands of us, he became the honored keeper and guardian of the Word of God.

Daniel Berrigan, 1985

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William Stringfellow comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via five sources.  He is on the short list of people The Episcopal Church will probably list officially as a saint once the “fifty-year-rule” (to which the denomination has made notable exceptions) ceases to be a barrier.  Stringfellow’s name appears in this context in the back of Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010) and its successor, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).  Cloud of Witnesses, 2d. ed (2005), edited by Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, contains Wallis’s remembrance of his friend of 14 years.  A Year with American Saints (2006), by G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, features Stringfellow.  So does All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), by Robert Ellsberg.

Stringfellow was a prophet.  He was, by definition, also a controversial figure.  Our saint was the kind of man certain contemporary reactionaries would dismiss cynically as a “social justice warrior.” Stringfellow would, in a counterfactual scenario in which he would have heard that term, probably have considered it a compliment and read the Book of Amos to his critics.  He did, after all, read long Biblical passages to the F.B.I. spooks who recorded this telephone calls.  That was better than what some other spied-upon U.S. citizens did in identical circumstances–frequently insult J. Edgar Hoover profanely.

Stringfellow stood up for what he believed.  He condemned economic injustice, racism, institutionalized segregation, homophobia, misogyny, sexual promiscuity, and other offenses.  Our saint also advocated for the ordination of women within The Episcopal Church long before 1976, when the General Convention approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate.  His opposition to the Vietnam War and to nuclear weapons also made him many enemies on the Right.

Frank William Stringfellow was a man who allowed the Bible to shape him.  He was a radical and a strong social critic who walked the walk.  Our saint, born in Johnston, Rhode Island, on April 26, 1928, was a life-long Episcopalian.  At age fifteen, he matriculated at Bates College, Lewiston, Massachusetts.  When Stringfellow left Bates College, he studied at the London School of Economics.  Our saint served in the Second Armored Division, U.S. Army, during World War II.  Next, he earned his J.D. degree at Harvard Law School.

Stringfellow moved into a slum in Harlem after he graduated from Harvard Law School.  He joined the East Harlem Protestant Parish, taught Biblical studies, and practiced law.  He remained in Harlem until 1967.  Our saint moved for health-related reasons; a metabolism-related disorder that led to diabetes affected him.  Stringfellow and platonic partner, poet Anthony Towne (died in 1980), a Methodist, moved to Block Island, New Shoreham, Rhode Island.

All evidence points to Stringfellow being a celibate, semi-closeted homosexual.  This matter, relevant to his life and activism, does not offend me.  (Stringfellow no more chose to be homosexual than I chose to be heterosexual.)

Theologically, Stringfellow was neo-orthodox.  He read works by Karl Barth (with whom he had a conversation in Harlem in the early 1960s) and Jacques Ellul.  The neo-orthodox theology of original sin pervading neo-orthodoxy was evident in his writings, including many of his books.  The presence of original sin in American culture and social institutions was one of Stringfellow’s most controversial topics.  He objected to reading the Bible through (dominant) American cultural eyes.  Rather, our saint interpreted (dominant) American culture through Biblical lenses.  He concluded that the Bible condemned his culture and his society’s institutions.  That proved to be controversial when

My country, right or wrong

was a popular slogan for many people.

Stringfellow’s views and activism placed him on J. Edgar Hoover’s radar, hence the wire-tapping.  When our saint’s friend, Father Daniel Berrigan (1921-2016) was a fugitive for having destroyed military draft records, Stringfellow and Toyne sheltered him for four months.  F.B.I. agents raided the house on Block Island and arrested all three.  The court eventually dropped the charges (of sheltering a fugitive) against Stringfellow and Towne, though.

Stringfellow, in constant pain during his final years, died at home on March 2, 1985.  He was 56 years old.

Stringfellow defined being holy as

being truly human.

By that standard, of being the best person one can be, our saint was holy.

Stringfellow’s prophetic witness remains relevant, unfortunately.  I write “unfortunately” because the United States of America, my country, has continued collectively and officially down a path contrary to the high moral standards Stringfellow championed.  I wonder what the FOX News Channel (according to which Mister Rogers was evil) would have said about Stringfellow, had it existed when he was alive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FANNIE LOU HAMER, PROPHET OF FREEDOM

THE FEAST OF ALBERT LISTER PEACE, ORGANIST IN ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND

THE FEAST OF HARRIET KING OSGOOD MUNGER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NEHEMIAH GOREH, INDIAN ANGLICAN PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS VINCENZINA CUSMANO, SUPERIOR OF THE SISTERS SERVANTS OF THE POOR; AND HER BROTHER, SAINT GIACOMO CUSMANO, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERS SERVANTS OF THE POOR AND THE MISSIONARY SERVANTS OF THE POOR

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may

do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight,

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736

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Feast of Philip and Daniel Berrigan (December 6   5 comments

philip-berrigan

Above:  Icon of Philip Berrigan

Image in the Public Domain

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PHILIP FRANCIS BERRIGAN (OCTOBER 5, 1923-DECEMBER 6, 2002)

Roman Catholic Priest and Social Activist

brother of

DANIEL JOSEPH BERRIGAN (MAY 9, 1921-APRIL 30, 2016)

Roman Catholic Priest and Social Activist

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When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,

And hear their death-knell ringing,

When friends rejoice both far and near,

How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile,

Our thoughts to them are winging;

When friends by shame are undefiled,

How can I keep from singing?

–Doris Plenn, 1950s

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Thus He will judge among the nations

And arbitrate for the many peoples,

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares

And their spears into pruning hooks:

Nation shall not take up

Sword against nation;

They shall never again know war.

–Isaiah 2:4, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

–Matthew 5:9, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

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Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal.  But the word of God is not fettered.

–2 Timothy 2:8-9, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

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Blessed are you, when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

–Matthew 5:11-12, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

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Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

–Luke 6:26, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

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The Bible is replete with stories of prophets who spoke truth to power.  One reads in that sacred anthology that some of these prophets suffered imprisonment and/or death.  Those accounts are ancient and, due to the passage of so much time, generally non-controversial, at least in the circles in which I move.  More contemporary figures, such as the Berrigan brothers, remain controversial, however.  Although I do not agree with them entirely, I admire them and deplore the harsh treatment of them by authorities.  I also respect the faith that compelled them to take up their crosses, follow Christ, and suffer for the sake of righteousness.

The Berrigan brothers’ lives, being as intertwined as they were, require writing of them in one post.  Their lives stand as testimonies for peace and social justice.  For their evil disobedience they spent years in federal prisons–eleven years for Philip and more than seven years for Daniel.  Sometimes they engaged in civil disobedience together.  They also found themselves on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most-wanted list.

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The Berrigans were a devout Roman Catholic family living in the vicinity of Duluth, Minnesota, in the early 1920s.  Freida Fromhart Berrigan and Thomas Berrigan raised six children–five sons and one daughter.  Thomas, a trade unionist, was a railroad engineer who raised his family on a farm.  Daniel debuted at Virginia, Minnesota, on May 9, 1921.  Philip entered the world at Two Harbors, Minnesota, on October 5, 1923.  The family moved to New York in 1926 after Thomas lost his job.  At Syracuse he, who hailed from the left wing of Roman Catholicism, founded the Electrical Workers Union and a Roman Catholic interracial council.

Daniel was a longtime Jesuit, for he joined the order immediately after graduating from high school in 1939.  He received his Bachelor’s degree from St. Andrew-on-the-Hudson, Hyde Park, in 1946.  From 1946 to 1949 Daniel taught at St. Peter’s Preparatory School, Jersey City, New Jersey.  He received his M.A. degree from Woodstock College, Baltimore, Maryland, in 1952, the same year he became a priest.  From 1954 to 1957 Daniel taught theology at LeMoyne College, Syracuse, New York.  In 1957 he won the Lamont Prize for Time Without Number, a volume of poetry.  From 1966 to 1970 Daniel served as the Assistant Director of University United Religious Work, an umbrella organization of campus chaplaincies at Cornell University.  He also served as the pastor of the Newman Club there.  Daniel also had professional roles at Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York; Loyola University of the South, New Orleans, Louisiana; Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; and Fordham University, New York, New York.

Philip entered the Society of St. Joseph (the Josephite Fathers) instead.  After graduating from high school at Syracuse he cleaned trains for the New York Central Railroad, played semi-professional baseball, and studied for a semester at St. Michael’s College, Toronto, Ontario.  Then the U.S. Army drafted him in 1943.  Philip’s proximity to institutional racism in the U.S. Army (especially during basic training in Georgia) and what he learned about the lives of sharecroppers disturbed him.  Combat also affected Philip deeply; he had his fill of violence and killing.  After the war Philip attended and graduated from the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts.  In 1950 he joined the Josephite Fathers, an order dedicated to working with African Americans.  Philip also graduated from St. Joseph’s Seminary, Washington, D.C., becoming a priest in 1955.  He graduated from Loyola University of the South with a degree in secondary education in 1957 and from Xavier University with a Master’s degree three years later.  Then Philip became a teacher.

Both brothers were active in the civil rights movement.  They participated in sit-ins, marches (such as at Selma, Alabama, in 1965), and bus boycotts.  Philip, in particular, identified with the urban poor.  For civil disobedience he went to prison for the first time in 1962-1963.  Philip ministered to other inmates while there.  Nevertheless, his activism earned him the disapproval of his superiors in the Roman Catholic Church.

The Berrigan brothers also protested the Vietnam War.  In 1964, at New York City, they founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship.  Later, at Baltimore, Philip founded the Baltimore Interfaith Peace Fellowship.  On October 27, 1967, he was one of the Baltimore Four, two Roman Catholics and two Protestants.  They poured their own blood on draft records.  Philip, out of jail on bail prior to sentencing for that act, recruited Daniel to join him and to become part of the Cantonsville Nine.  On May 17, 1968, at Cantonsville, Maryland, they doused draft records in homemade napalm and burned them.  All involved received prison sentences, delayed by an appeals period of sixteen months.  After the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the appeals, Daniel and Philip went into hiding.  F.B.I. agents caught up with Philip after twelve days.  Daniel remained holed up in the Block Island, Rhode Island, house of William Stringfellow (1928-1985), an Episcopalian, social activist, and lay theologian, for four months.  The prison terms expired in 1972.

While in prison Philip secretly married Elizabeth McAlister, a nun and one of the Cantonsville Nine, in 1969.  He was also among those charged with plotting to kidnap Henry Kissinger and to bomb steam tunnels.  The trial (1972) ended in an acquittal.  The marriage of Philip and Elizabeth became public in 1973.  Then Pope Paul VI excommunicated him.  The couple had three children.  Philip and Elizabeth continued their antiwar activism.  In 1973, at Baltimore, they founded Jonah House, to support war resisters.

In 1980 the Berrigan brothers founded the anti-nuclear war and weapons Plowshares Movement.  On September 9, 1980, the Plowshares Eight, who included both brothers, trespassed at the General Electric nuclear missile facility at King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.  There they damaged cones of Mark 12A missiles and poured blood on documents and files.  The Plowshares Eight, convicted the following year, appealed their sentences until 1990, when a judge reduced them to time served and 23 months of probation.

At his trial in 1981 Daniel said, in part:

Our act is all I have to say.  The only message I have to the world is this:  We are not allowed to kill innocent people.  We are not allowed to be complicit in murder.  We are not allowed to be silent while preparations for mass murder proceed in our name, with our money, secretly.

I have nothing else to say in the world.  At other times one could talk about family life and divorce and birth control and abortion and many other questions.  But this Mark 12A is here.  And it renders all other questions null and void.  Nothing, nothing can be settled until this is settled.  Or this will settle us, once and for all.

It’s terrible for me to live in a time where I have nothing to say to human beings except, “Stop killing.”  There are other beautiful things that I would love to be saying to people.  There are other projects I could be very useful at.  And I can’t do them.  I cannot.

Because everything is endangered.  Everything is up for grabs.  Ours is a kind of primitive situation, even though we would call ourselves sophisticated.  Our plight is very primitive from a Christian point of view.  We are back where we started.  Thou shalt not kill:  we are not allowed to kill.  Everything today comes down to that–everything.

–Quoted in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, editors, Cloud of Witnesses, Revised Edition (2005), page 230

Philip’s final prison sentence resulted from his participation in the hammering of A-10 Warthog war planes at Warfield Air National Guard Base, Middle River, Maryland, in December 1999.  He was in prison until December 2001.  He died a year later, on December 6, 2002, at Baltimore.  He was 79 years old.

In his later years Daniel continued in the good fight.  He opposed U.S. wars and military interventions in Central America, Iraq (both times), Kosovo, and Afghanistan.  He also tended to AIDS patients and spoke out against abortion and capital punishment and supported the Occupy Movement and equal rights for homosexuals.  Daniel died in New York City on April 30, 2016.  He was 94 years old.

The witness of the lives of the Berrigan brothers teaches us to love one another, especially when doing so is dangerous to oneself.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK PRATT GREEN, BRITISH METHODIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOMEW ZOUBERBUHLER ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF CYRIACUS SCHNEEGASS, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, MUSICIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EMILY HUNTINGTON MILLER, U.S. METHODIST AUTHOR AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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