The Berrigans: Devout and Dangerous
By Dan Clendenin
The Berrigans: Devout and Dangerous (2021)
According to J. Edgar Hoover, the Jesuit priests and brothers Philip and Daniel Berrigan were public enemy number one for their crimes against the state, and so he placed them on the FBI’s “Most Wanted List” for their many acts of civil disobedience against the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons. As a consequence, both of the Berrigans spent fifty years in and out of jail for their unwavering commitment to peace, dissent, resistance, and “direct action.” Dan Berrigan was once asked how many times he had been incarcerated for the Gospel message of peace. He responded, “apparently not enough.” For 11 of his 29 years of marriage, Phil was separated from his wife Elizabeth McAlister by one or both of them serving time in prison. Stokeley Carmichael once called Phil “the baddest white man in America” for his principled and progressive protests of racism. From the Berrigans’s perspective, the Johnson and Nixon administrations were committing crimes against humanity. The Berrigans, as this 80-minute documentary puts it, were thus both devout and dangerous. They were featured on the cover of Time Magazine (January 25, 1971) as “Rebel Priests: The Curious Case of the Berrigans.” This film does a wonderful job of curating massive amounts of archival video and photography of those tumultuous years, much of which is of the Berrigans telling their own story. Additional interviews and commentary are provided by the likes of Howard Zinn, Martin Sheen, Jim Wallis, Daniel Ellsberg, and members of the Berrigan family. For more on the Berrigans see Bill Wylie-Kellermann, Celebrant’s Flame: Daniel Berrigan in Memory and Reflection (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2021), 188pp.
Dan Clendenin: firstname.lastname@example.org
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