This week, my troublemaking friends and I might, after several postponements, be standing trial for our attempt in Santa Fe Sept. 26 to pay a visit to Sen. Pete Domenici and urge him to sign the "Declaration of Peace," a pledge to help end the U.S. war on Iraq. To aid our case we boldly subpoenaed the good senator, who is up to his ears in problems for his role in the firing of prosecutors. His lawyers are wrangling to keep him out of the courtroom, so our trial may well be postponed again.
On the Road to Peace
Years ago Gerry Straub, successful TV producer and settled atheist embraced a spectacular modern -- day conversion, and soon entered upon a journey of downward mobility -- from Hollywood big wheel to son of poor St. Francis. A big change, that's bearing good fruit. Soon, a Franciscan -- based non -- profit was born, the San Damiano Foundation. There Gerry makes groundbreaking films documenting the poorest of the world's poor. Next week, his latest film premieres, touching upon a slightly different topic -- of all things, me. My life in the desert and my faith in Gospel nonviolence.
Voices in the Wilderness founder Kathy Kelly called April 21 with alarming news. Our dear friend, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, the 1976 Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner, hailed as one of the world's great voices for nonviolence, was shot the day before by Israeli soldiers. She was in the middle of a Palestinian nonviolent vigil for human rights at the Israeli-built separation wall in the Palestinian village of Bil'in. (See NCR story: Nobel laureate injured in West Bank.)
Last month, some 80 Catholic Workers, Pax Christi folk and other activists from across the West Coast gathered for a weekend of community-building and nonviolent witness at the Nevada Test Site. Father Daniel Berrigan offered reflections under the theme, "Walking With Our Sorrow." A cogent title. I thought of it as news trickled in of the Virginia Tech massacre. It left me horrified and heartbroken. But given our culture of violence, the news failed to surprise me. I marvel that rampages explode as infrequently as they do.
We of the Santa Fe protest group, nine of us, had ourselves braced for trial last Thursday in federal court in Albuquerque. We are embroiled in legal difficulties for our efforts last fall to urge our senator to sign a "declaration of peace." Wary guards blocked our entry. So in the lobby elevator we sat, its controls disabled and its doors wide open. And there we held a liturgy featuring a solemn reading of the names of Iraqi and American dead.
A few years ago, Daniel Berrigan and I celebrated Easter in a New York park with a few Jesuit friends. We held a small liturgy and a picnic. After reading a Gospel account of the resurrection, we sat a few moments in silence. Then I said, "I'm amazed Jesus came back at all. He had been betrayed, denied, abandoned, arrested, jailed, tortured and executed, and yet he came back peaceably, forgiving everyone generously, punishing no one. He didn't get angry at them -- he proceeded to make them breakfast!"
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him. Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him.
G'day from Down Under! I've been on the road in Australia for a month now, from Sydney on the east coast to Perth on the west, then about face and back again. I spoke in Brisbane on the east coast, and down south in Melbourne on Port Phillip Bay, and Adelaide on the Gulf of St. Vincent, and Canberra, the inland capital, as well as Townsville, way up north in the tropics, across from Magnetic Island and the Great Barrier Reef. And southernmost of all, somewhere near Antartica in Hobart on the gorgeous island of Tasmania, with other stops in between.
Last month brought a kind of a travel nightmare. I lectured in St. Cloud, Minn., and the next morning at 3:30 a.m. (New Mexico time) out the door I went, off to the airport. I boarded at five and soon after heard the pilot utter those dreaded words, "Our apologies for the delay, but owing to mechanical problems ..." And there we sat for three hours.
Probably little surprise, but I'm a fan of movies with a message for justice and peace, films such as "Gandhi," "The Mission," "In the Name of the Father," "Missing," "Born on the Fourth of July," "Babette's Feast," "Dead Man Walking," "Erin Brokovich," "Silkwood," "Cry Freedom," "Philadelphia," "North Country," "Testament," "Veronica Guerin," and "Thirteen Days." Seeing that Oscar season is upon us, it occurred to me to give two thumbs up to one of my favorites, "Sophie Scholl."