Publisher's Letter - November 2017

Robert Ellsberg

Daniel Berrigan, the Jesuit priest, poet, and renowned peacemaker, died last April, just shy of his 95th birthday.

Jim Forest, his friend and companion in peace work over many decades, began at once to write his biography, and the fruit of his labor is now available: At Play in the Lions’ Den: A Biography and Memoir of Daniel Berrigan. The cover features an iconic photo of Berrigan, following his arrest for burning draft files in Catonsville, mischievously flashing a peace sign with his manacled hands. Lavishly illustrated with many similarly compelling photos as well as sidebar excerpts from Berrigan’s writings, this volume completes Forest’s remarkable trilogy of the great Catholic peacemakers of our time, including Thomas Merton (Living with Wisdom) and Dorothy Day (All is Grace), all of whom he knew intimately. Of the new book, Martin Sheen writes, “Daniel Berrigan’s life was a full measure of grace that soared up and flowed out of all those times and places that witnessed his unyielding personal commitment in word and deed to peace and social justice.”

This month marks the anniversary of the election of Donald Trump—an event that has proved as fateful as it seemed at the time. Our recent publication, Faith & Resistance in the Age of Trump, edited by Miguel De La Torre, continues to serve as a prophetic commentary on unique dangers posed by this administration, especially the appeals to white nationalism—or, what the contributors to another new volume call “anti-blackness.” In Anti-Blackness and Christian Ethics, Vincent W. Lloyd and Andrew Prevot have gathered reflections by an outstanding range of scholars, analyzing the enduring stain of white supremacy in America and how to resist it.

Anne E. Patrick, who died last year, was a prophetic and pioneering voice of women in the Catholic Church and the theological academy. A past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, she also received its highest honor, the John Courtney Murray Award. A new collection of her writings, On Being Unfinished (edited by former Orbis editor Susan Perry), is a fitting reflection of her legacy. As Susan Ross comments, these essays “reveal Patrick’s brilliance and courage in her analysis of sexism, her challenges to institutional opposition, her mining of literature’s wisdom, and her insistence on the importance of conscience. Her voice continues to inspire and motivate.”

Finally, Naim Stiffan Ateek, an Anglican priest and theologian offers A Palestinian Theology of Liberation: The Bible, Justice, and the Palestine-Israel Conflict. This builds on themes he originally introduced almost thirty years ago in his groundbreaking work, Justice and Only Justice. This reading of the gospel through Palestinian eyes awakens a fresh understanding of the prophetic tradition and its ongoing relevance in the land of its birth.

The final word belongs to Daniel Berrigan: “Each of the prophets is an ‘other’ Yahweh. As God’s compassionate and clairvoyant and inclusive image, each prophet strives for a divine (which is to say, truly human) breakthrough in the human tribe. Lacerating, intemperate, relentless, the prophets raise the question again and again, in images furious and glorious, poetic and demanding: What is a human being?”

Robert Ellsberg

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