To Dwell in Peace

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Daniel Berrigan was born into a large Catholic family in northern Minnesota. As he portrays his childhood, he describes the personalities of his family: his authoritarian father, who had a poetic spirit but was never very successful at anything he tried, yet had no tolerance for weakness in others; his sacrificing mother and brothers, who nurtured his faith.

Berrigan’s story continues through his decision to become a Jesuit priest and then traces his growing involvement in social activism. Influenced by Dorothy Day’s Catholic community, he evolves from a theoretical pacifist to a strident protester. Beginning with his early teaching days, during which the connection he made between faith and social action was taking shape, until his activism--especially the dumping of draft files and setting them ablaze in 1968--put him in direct conflict with the United States government, Berrigan examines his role as an activist priest. He has demonstrated the sincerity of his beliefs through continued protests against the production of nuclear weapons. He is a thorn in the side of the status quo, and today he can be found supporting gay rights and helping AIDS patients deal with their fate. There is no middle ground for Daniel Berrigan, and he poignantly expresses his commitment in this poetic book.