Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

At the heart of Berrigan’s Isaiah, prophecy, faith, and hope—leading to a nonviolent confrontation with the war-making state—provide Christians with a compelling and challenging interpretation of how to live authentic Christian love. During the 1960’s Berrigan shifted from liberal dissent against war and racism to a controversial nonviolent resistance to war. A member of the emerging Plowshares antinuclear movement from the 1980’s, Berrigan, a modern Isaiah, justified the destruction of the means of war, such as nuclear warheads, as a way for ordinary people of faith to counter the Western powers’ reliance on war and a nuclear arsenal to provide security for their states. Such governments and their laws value property over persons. For Berrigan, Jesus’ command to love God and neighbor, even one’s enemy, precludes a resort to war or complicity with war makers. To love human life is to love and obey God. Although his antiwar stance has pleased many on the political Left, his antiabortion beliefs offend pro-choice sensibilities in the Left as his antiwar actions alienate the Christian Right. An iconic figure in protests against the Vietnam War, Berrigan wrote books that sold hundreds of thousands of copies, but since clarifying his “seamless garment” stance on protecting all life, his following has predictably diminished.

Berrigan has spent a lifetime engaged in contemplation of Scripture complemented by engagement with the world...

(The entire section is 419 words.)