Synopses & Reviews
The book presents Daniel Berrigan's contribution and challenge to Catholic Social Thought. His contribution lies in his consistent, comprehensive, theoretical, and practical approach to issues of social justice and peace over the last fifty years. His challenge lies in his critique of capitalism, imperialism, and militarism, inviting Catholic activists and thinkers to undertake not just a reformist but a radical critique and alternative to these realities. The aim of this book is, for the first time, to make Berrigan's thought and life available to the academic Catholic community, so that a fruitful interaction takes place. How does this work enlighten and challenge such a community? How can this community enrich and criticize his work?
To these ends, the editors have recruited scholars and thinker-activists already familiar with and sympathetic to Berrigan's work and those who are less so identified. The result is a rich, engaging, and critical treatment of the meaning and impact of his work. What kind of challenge does he present to academic-business-as-usual in Catholic universities? How can the life and work of individual Catholic academics be transformed if such persons took Berrigan's work seriously, theoretically and practically? Do Catholic universities need Berrigan's vision to fulfill more integrally and completely their own mission? Does the self-knowing subject and theorist need to become a radical subject and theorist?
Even though the appeal of academics is important and perhaps primary, because of the range and depth of his work and thought and the power of his writing, there is a larger appeal to the Catholic community and to activists working for social justice and peace. The work has, therefore, not only a theoretical and academic appeal but also a popular and grass roots appeal.
Given the current and on-going US military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Berrigan's work invites us to think about the justice of such interventions or, given the destructiveness of modern weapons, whether the notion of just war makes any sense. Given the recent crisis on Wall Street, does it make sense any longer to talk about the possibility of a just capitalism? Given the most recent revelations about Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram, is it not imperative to think about how torture, preventative detention, and extraordinary rendition serve the ends of empire? In light of all of this, doesn't Berrigan's call for a pacific, prophetic community of justice rooted in the Good News of the Gospel make compelling sense?
"As an edited collection of scholarly papers, the book shares the virtues and flaws of all collections, the 'core thesis' is addressed erratically and the writing styles are varied, but despite this the time spent reading the essays was well worth it." --Catholic Books Review
"The essays address the contributions and challenges Berrigan presented to the ongoing conversation on Catholic social thought and the ways in which continued academic discourse on his ideas enrich his work." --Choice
"Explores a fundamental tension concerning the role of the political within Catholic social thought, and considers Berrigan's work within the broader discussion of social justice." --Carol Joy Gordon
"Their story is crucial to anyone concerned about dissent in the U.S.- perhaps most of all to the academics in this book." --National Catholic Reporter
"In a brief review essay, one cannot do justice to the breadth of scholarship presented in this volume."--American Catholic Studies
"[Berrigan's] writings, and especially his poetry, remain insightful, powerful, and prophetic to this day. His words are uplifting in their consistent Christian ethic, but horrifyingly still relevant, even decades later."--Journal of Catholic Education
About the Author
James L. Marsh
is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Fordham University. Marsh has published seven books, the most recent of which is Unjust Legality: A Critique of Habermas's Philosophy of Law
(Roman and Littlefield, 2002)) and Ricouer As Another
(co-edited with Richard Cohen, SUNY, 2004).
Anna J. Brown is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Social Justice Program at St. Peter's College.