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On the Road to Peace

Daniel Berrigan: Essential Writings

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This week, Orbis Books published my new book, Daniel Berrigan: Essential Writings, a great collection of Dan’s best writing from over 50 years. It features some of his best poems, autobiographical reflections, and journals from South Africa, Vietnam, El Salvador, the D.C. Jail and Danbury prison, as well as accounts of his Catonsville Nine and Plowshares Eight actions. Along with reflections on Franz Jagerstatter, the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador and Thich Nhat Hanh, it includes excerpts from the 15 scripture commentaries on the Hebrew Bible that he has published over the past 20 years.

At 88, Dan is still at it, funny, sharp, and extremely critical of the Obama warmaking regime. As Obama announces our latest imperial, military maneuvers, it’s sobering to read Dan’s writings and realize how little we have learned from the Vietnam War. Last month, Dan published a new commentary on the book of Deuteronomy, No Gods But One. He continues to keep the Word and speak the truth.

Disarm Now Plowshares

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It was Nov. 2. Five friends trudged four hours onto the nuclear weapons naval base at Kitsap-Bangor, Wash. Their destination: SWFPAC, the Strategic Weapons Facility-Pacific. They came to the perimeter, lifted hammers against fences, scattered sunflower seeds and poured their own blood to symbolize the blood spilt by these weapons. They carried banners that read: "Disarm Now."

The school of prophets

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Last weekend in Adelaide, Australia, seventy of us gathered for a retreat entitled “The School of Prophets.” The idea was dreamed up by my friend Tim Deslandes as a time for contemplative prayer which would lead us toward prophetic speaking and action.

Tim says the time has become ripe to raise a new generation of “prophetic people,” given churchly scandals and failures and worldly horrors and wars.

Remembering the Jesuit Martyrs

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Twenty years ago, on November 16, 1989, I was studying theology at the Jesuit community in Berkeley, Calif., when my friend Steve Kelly knocked on the door and asked if I had heard the news. I hadn’t. He broke down telling me of the brutal deaths early that morning of six Jesuit priests at the University of Central America, the Jesuit university in San Salvador. I had known those Jesuits from my time in El Salvador in 1985, when I lived and worked in a refugee camp. I was shocked and grief-stricken.

New Zealand diary

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Wednesday, Oct. 28

I left Honolulu Monday evening and arrived in Auckland, New Zealand this morning. Somewhere over the Pacific, I lost a day, a disconcerting experience. But it was a thrill to land in one of the world’s remotest corners to meet some of the world’s friendliest people in the perhaps the most anti-nuclear nation on earth.

If you want to know God, prepare for an ordeal

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Anthony de Mello's Jesuit spirituality

This week has taken me across the world. I was in Santa Fe, N.M., Saturday at the Pax Christi conference featuring Franciscan peacemaker Fr. Louie Vitale. Then in New York City on Sunday to preside at Mass and speak at the celebration for my old friend, Dr. Paul Farmer, along with Bill Clinton, Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth, and Bill and Melinda Gates. Then in Hawaii to speak in Kona on the big island before embarking on speaking tours of New Zealand and Australia. It’s a bit much, but a great blessing to meet people everywhere I go who care passionately about the world’s poor, about the possibilities of peace and nonviolence, and about the God of love and peace.

A visit to the Peace Abbey

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With many others, the news last week that President Obama had received the Nobel Peace Prize left me dismayed. Out he stepped from the Oval Office to accept the prize, then back in he went to continue his preparations to send tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan. There, under his orders, they’ll drop bombs, follow their drones, make sweeps through villages and terrorize children. Not my idea of a peacemaker.

Pushing Obama's vision: A nuclear free world

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[Editor's note: Fr. Dear posted this column Tuesday, days before President Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.]

When President Obama presided over the United Nations Security Council recently to endorse a resolution to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, we saw a rare sight -- a sign of global leadership pointing humanity toward a new future of peace. But while his words inspired, and hope springs from his symbolic stand, nothing has changed.

St. ThÈrËse's Little Way of Nonviolence

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"When I sit in jail thinking of war and peace and the problem of human freedom," Dorothy Day once wrote, "of jails, drug addiction, prostitution and the apathy of great masses of people who believe that nothing can be done--when I thought of these things I was all the more confirmed in my faith in the little way of St. Thérèse. We do the things that come to hand, we pray our prayers and beg also for an increase of faith--and God will do the rest."

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August 15-28, 2014

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