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The more recent prophets and activists I have known have generally been able to do this -- to release the truth of the act to the four winds. And I am sure that helps them avoid taking themselves too seriously.
Anticipate the Jut-Jaw
Here's how Dan Berrigan recounts the immediate aftermath of the action at Catonsville:"We sat in custody in the back room of the Catonsville Post Office, weak with relief. ... Three or four FBI honchos entered portentously. Their leader, a jut-jawed paradigm, surveyed us from the doorway. His eagle-eye lit on Philip. He roared out: 'Him again! Good God, I'm changing my religion!'
"I could think of no greater tribute to my brother."
The Berrigans help affirm for me that this God of ours is a God of laughter, and we are the entertainment. And that's just one reason a light touch seems to be required. Will we be successful? Wrong question. The right one is will we be faithful? Will we dare to go with the Berrigans to where the battle rages.
I am very much looking forward to being able to refresh my spirit, and also my sense of humor, with some later-day prophets at the upcoming Conference on the Moral Imperative of Activism, Aug. 16-17, at the National Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine in Fonda, New York.
Let me close with a poem written by the German writer Peter Gan in 1935 during the Third Reich. I think it summons us in a thoughtful way to contemplate who we are and what we are called to do -- today.But first the most important thing:
"What are you doing in these great times?
"Great, I say, for times seem great
to me, when each man driven
half to death by the era's hate,
and standing in the place he's given,
"Must willy-nilly contemplate
no less a thing than his own BEING!
A little breath, a second's wait
May well suffice -- you catch my meaning?"
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