“I wanted to be useless/As life itself; so/I told the president so/and told the pope so/and told the police so.” “Ambition,” Daniel Berrigan. And the Risen Bread: Selected Poems 1957-1997. Fordham University Press. 1998.
“It’s been a very difficult question personally and one that has always made me sort of, you know, run for the woods, this whole business of transforming a kind of moral voice or ethical voice or peaceable voice into this pumped-up absurdity called celebrity. And I think I’ve been able to sort of, you know, run around it or run through it or run by it pretty well. . . .And I’m very glad for my family and for my community of Jesuits in helping me keep a – kind of a human size in all of this, you know?” Interview with Terri Gross, NPR, 1988. Re-broadcast May 3, 2016.
“And then, we go into the Pentagon, and we’re in the bathroom, you know, using their facilities. And Dan says to me as we’re standing there, “You know, in the 1940s, when Roosevelt authorized the building of this place, there was talk of it being converted to a hospital when the war was over.” And then he sort of pauses, and he says, “And, you know, in a way, they kept their word. It’s the largest insane asylum in the world.” As recounted by good friend and journalist Jeremy Scahill to Amy Goodman.
Pie in the Sky
As governor of Arkansas and a candidate for President, Clinton flew home to witness the execution of lobotomized Ricky Rector. Led from his cell to the electric chair, the prisoner left the pie from his last meal in his cell, intending to eat it after his execution.
Someday somehow I’ll get me Why pore Rick doesn’t know
makeup of that pie His ars from a baked apple.
Rick shoved forkfuls of They drag him outa there for
into his soon to be fifty quickened paces,
resurrected tummy a made-up word sufficing
treadin, yumyumin among the urging ‘C’mon Rick, quick like—
dead men walking ex-e-cu-tion, ex-ha-la-tion,
&hummin no doubt, and strummin ex-ca-va-tion’–
‘America the beautiful.’ then KABOOM!
what he don’t know wont hurt him.
………………………………………………… Sure kid, cross my heart we’ll
bring you right back here yer
(From And the Risen Bread, 381) just desserts awaiting.
Daniel Berrigan, steadfast witness to life and the Word for more than nine decades. Railed against war, the death penalty, nuclear weapons. Was jailed, but never silenced. Spoke out in prose and poetry for the “perplexed and hard-pressed” by whose side he always stood. A man who believed that “the world’s need of Christians could perhaps be defined as a need for spiritual presence and a need for prophecy.” Believing also that “only such a religion seeking to live in the world can be a religion of the world,” he was a presence and a powerful voice through every major moral crisis of his time. May he rest in God’s nearer presence.