In some North American quarters the Orthodox faith has come to be associated with extreme forms of social and political conservatism and—in some alarming cases—even with white supremacist nationalism. Deacon Hayes’ short reflection attests to a time, not so long ago, remembered by those of us old enough or Orthodox long enough to have experienced. In publishing this companion piece to Jim Forest’s article of December 12, Orthodoxy in Dialogue hopes to bring into the open a vitally important conversation that is mainly limited to anguished Facebook comments by those who hardly recognize their Church anymore. Hayes concludes with a parodoxical observation: only a changeless theology has the power to change the world.
Jim Forest recently wrote a biography of a Jesuit priest, Father Daniel Berrigan, who died in 2016.
Why would an Orthodox Christian write a biography of a radical Roman Catholic priest, and why would an Orthodox Christian want to read such a thing? Forest himself wrote an answer to that question for Orthodoxy in Dialogue the day before yesterday:
When he died last year, age 94, obituaries focused on the anti-war aspects of Berrigan’s life: he was eighteen months in prison for burning draft records in a protest against conscription of the young into the Vietnam War; then there was a later event in which he was one of eight people who hammered on the nose cone of a nuclear-armed missile. No one has kept count of his numerous brief stays in jail for other acts of war protest. He was handcuffed more than a hundred times.
But this raises another, wider question, too.
For the last few years the mainstream media have focused on the phenomenon of the religious right. But 50 years ago the focus was more on the religious left, exemplified by people like Daniel Berrigan protesting against the Vietnam War.
I first learned of Daniel Berrigan in 1969 through a radical Christian magazine called The Catonsville Roadrunner. The magazine was inspired by the actions of Berrigan and his brother Philip, who with several others had broken into an office containing records of military conscription and publicly burnt them. It became a legendary act of Christian civil disobedience. Read More