Rest in Peace, Daniel Berrigan

Richard Edmondson
Fig Trees and Vineyards


“The Feast of Carrion”
a chapter from Daniel Berrigan’s book,

The Nightmare of God

Daniel Berrigan, Jesuit priest and outspoken opponent of US wars, has died at the age of 94. Berrigan was jailed numerous times–initially in the 1960s when he broke into a draft board office in Cantonsville, Maryland, and later on in the 1970s and 80s for his anti-nuclear activism.

Berrigan and his younger brother, Philip Berrigan, who was also a priest, were in some respects your quintessential liberation theologians. They were in fact forerunners to the Liberation Theology movement, rising to national prominence with an act of civil disobedience in 1968 that made national and international headlines. Here is a bit from the New York Times’ obituary for Berrigan. It’s actually rather well stated:

The catalyzing episode occurred on May 17, 1968, six weeks after the murder of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the outbreak of new riots in dozens of cities. Nine Catholic activists, led by Daniel and Philip Berrigan, entered a Knights of Columbus building in Catonsville and went up to the second floor, where the local draft board had offices. In front of astonished clerks, they seized hundreds of draft records, carried them down to the parking lot and set them on fire with homemade napalm.

Some reporters had been told of the raid in advance. They were given a statement that said in part, “We destroy these draft records not only because they exploit our young men but because they represent misplaced power concentrated in the ruling class of America.” It added, “We confront the Catholic Church, other Christian bodies and the synagogues of America with their silence and cowardice in the face of our country’s crimes.”

The Berrigan brothers (Philip left and Daniel right) burn draft files in Cantonsville, Maryland

America’s crimes continued to be very much on Berrigan’s mind even after the Vietnam War ended. In 1980, he and Philip founded the Plowshares Movement. One of their most notable acts of civil disobedience was entry into a General Electric nuclear facility in Pennsylvania where they damaged equipment and poured blood onto documents and files. The entire group was jailed. It was while behind bars that Berrigan wrote an interesting little book, basically his take on the Book of Revelation, which he entitled The Nightmare of God.

The book was published in 1983. In it, Berrigan takes his own country to task for “preparing for ever more lethal incursions” against other countries and peoples, while also issuing a withering criticism of biblical scholars: “To most scholars of the Bible, the crimes of the U.S. Air Force are forever beside the point. Thus does crime multiply and scholarship rot.” The Apocalypse, in his view, contains a “social bias” in favor of the victims of oppression, unlike America, which he felt was bent upon “carving the earth” through war. “Bellicose, selfish, self-deluded, icy, absolutely resolute—behold the Rome of the Book of Revelation. Behold also America?” For Berrigan there was only one choice: “resist the state.”

Berrigan continued resisting the state all the way up into his senior years. You can click here to read an amusing anecdote about his appearance at New York’s Zuccotti Park during the Occupy Wall Street protest in 2011.

Berrigan died Saturday, April 30, at a Jesuit health care facility at Fordham University following an extended illness. According to a spokesperson for the facility, he died peacefully.

Below is an excerpt from The Nightmare of God, taken from Chapter 7, which is entitled “Feast of Carrion.” In this section of the book, Berrigan provides a commentary on a rather strange passage from the Book of Revelation 19:17-18:

And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.

Here is a section from Berrigan’s exegetic commentary on the text:

The passage is shocking in the extreme. It seems as though God has become a savage carnivore. We recall with a pang the gracious eucharist: “The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, has life eternal.” (Jn. 6, 54) But now, an anti-eucharist is announced. We recall also the lovely simile: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who has a feast for his son’s wedding.” (Mt. 22, 2). A wedding feast is a foretaste of glory. But now it is the great ones of the earth who make up the menu of a nightmarish orgy. What can this mean?

A cosmic principle is at work here. The karma of the universe demands some final righting of wrongs. This is the law of the ecological web, along which we exist, which we rend or enhance. Living nature is to be avenged for crimes committed against it.

Most important, murder is not forever to be legal. In Revelation, it bears repeating that God enters the scene as one who unmasks and hastens moral process. “Quickly” is a great word with Him; “come quickly,”…”I am coming quickly…” (12; 12, 20).

Moral and physical process interact, inevitably. So the earth recoils from crime, as people wreak their fury and hatred on the earth and living things. Every war is a war on ecology as well as on community; after a given time, the ground no longer supports our criminal weight.

The ultimate consumers (warmakers) eat people. That is why a loathsome banquet seems a weirdly fitting image for the end of things, the end of those who consumed the people and the earth. No God eats them.

This image bears comparison also with the “hell fires,” or the Sartrian metaphor of hell as boredom, or the circles upon circles of Dante or Solzhenitsyn. Since hell is a state of spirit, we can grasp it only by imagining it. Here the violent, the deceitful, the envious, the truly sinful, prepare the banquet themselves, cook it, choose the guests. But it is all ultimately self-consuming. They do not know it, but they themselves are the menu. The goal of “life” is–extinction. Ultimately, self-extinction.

After the banquet, what? The void. Americans held such a feast time and again during the Vietnam war; a daily body count, a menu which may have as well been venison or wild birds. People literally cannibalized others. But at the end of the war the tables were turned, so to speak. A prelude, a revelation.

War is a kind of cannibalism. The “last day” scene is not only a banquet hall; it is a battlefield. The scene is a stereotype of history; the birds of the air come to eat the flesh of men and horses, after the battle. An obscene cleanup occurs. Those announced as the “menu” are clearly enumerated, as is often the way in Revelation. “All, both free and slave, small and great.” No matter what their estate in the world, all are doomed, are equally grist for the grinder. The sole exception (v. 20) are those who have not worshiped the beast, or worshiped its image, or borne its mark. This exceptional vocation, to life rather than death, has been insisted on before. So has its price; but the price is not this noisome scene of horror.

The act of eating is an image dear to John. He had been told by the angel to “eat the little scroll;” it would be “bitter in his guts and sweet on his tongue.” (10, 8) For some, Christianity is a tasters’ choice; for others, a bitter pill. But “eating” is knowledge, assimilating the truth (I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst, John 6, 35). (Just as in Genesis; only there it was false knowledge.) But now on the battlefield, the scene is excoriating, random, meaningless, an orgy of the carnivorous birds of the air. Because the truth was never in this air. Now the truth is pure weapon, the blade is keen; they are slain by the “sword (word) that issues from his mouth” (John 18, 37). They have sinned against all four elements; now fire and water conspire to destroy them; they are thrown into “a lake of fire.”



Indeed war is an act of cannibalism, and the Israelis are certainly “cannibalizing” Palestine as we speak. And coming up in two weeks, on May 15, the Palestinians will be marking the 68th anniversary of their Nakba. War criminals of every type, both those in Israel as well as their counterparts here in America, will, I suspect, find themselves on the “menu” at some point. And truth, as Berrigan points out, is a pure weapon whose blade is keen, and as people continue speaking the truth about Israel, the Great Supper of God will draw closer on them.

And what afterwards? Well…maybe it will be as John envisioned it: a new Jerusalem, where crystal waters will flow past the tree of life, and the leaves of the tree will be for the healing of the nations.

23 thoughts on “Rest in Peace, Daniel Berrigan”

  1. That’s very interesting! I remember reading about some nuns (I believe that was the story) who broke into the Oak Ridge nuclear facility in Tennessee. Their symbolic method of protest also involved pouring blood over certain objects in the facility.

    It’s nice to see some of the Catholic clergy who did not take things for granted. Such clergy have senses attuned to the “message” inherent in ever-deadlier weapons. It makes me wonder whether father Berrigan was familiar with the nuances of McLuhan.

    “Indeed, it is only too typical that the ‘content’ of any medium blinds us to the character of the medium.” Thus wrote Marshall McLuhan in 1964 (Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man).

    It is very easy to be in awe of the murderous efficiency of the U.S. Air Force (to stay with the above-mentioned entity), but an honest ethicist would likely question the necessity or having enough such weapons to destroy the world several times over. In other words, Realpolitik doesn’t cut it in such ethics. At a certain point (perhaps very early on in the war-making process), the ends do not justify the means. We must remember that the horrific MKUktra experiments were ostensibly about reverse-engineering the brainwashing evinced in POWs returning from the Korean War in order to HEAL such persons. Likewise, the logic of nuclear buildup was a continual passing of the buck or shifting of blame to the enemy (primarily the USSR). At some point someone must say, “This is insanity.”

    It seems like Father Berrigan did just that. I was glad to learn about him in this article. Thank you for sharing!


  2. Subscribe to comments.

    I posted this as a comment on another website that was discussing the “bad rap” given Jesuits in USA’s contemporary “alternative media” today.

    dachsielady / May 2, 2016

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Speaking of the Jesuits, I find that there are almost no clear traditional Catholic commentaries of a very famous contemporary Jesuit priest in the USA, Father Daniel Berrigan.

    I think I quoted E. Michael Jones somewhere on this blog where he said that some individual Jesuits are good and some are bad. But all of the traditional Catholic reading I have done never ever condemns the Jesuit order as a whole.

    I spend a lot of time researching what are called “false flag” events on They just posted a long article about the passing of Father Daniel Berrigan.


    This is a secular website.

    May 1, 2016
    Rest in Peace, Daniel Berrigan 2
    by MHB Administrator • Guest Posts • Tags: Catholic Church, Daniel Berrigan, Howard Saltz, Philip Berrigan, police state and civil rights, Vietnam War, war crimes

    Richard Edmondson
    Fig Trees and Vineyards

    Here is another article on this Jesuit’s death.

    NCR is a “Novus Ordo” website.

    I did not read either article but I think something needs to be said about certain famous Jesuits and their strong anti-war stand and their stand for “peace and justice.”

    I think it is right and good to stand up for peace and justice as Jesus understood and taught. I think it is right and good to speak out against unjust wars.

    However, there is often something wrong or twisted in the “Left’s” anti-war, peace and justice professions.

    I really do not know. I do see that the “Right” factions in the USA have always appeared to be pro-war and seem to have no concept of a just war. “

      1. Yep..Check

        It’s from Paul and they have misconstrued everything He was saying.

        I just put myself out there but it’s very late in the game…..

        1. “Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom…” – Cicero

          I am a great believer in Jesus, but hold utter contempt for those who claim to represent him.

          Luke arose on the scene quite some time after the death of Jesus. All we know is he was a friend of Paul and Paul had never met Jesus and neither did Luke. Luke was a tent maker who from what we are told Helped the traitor Paul twist the words of Jesus leading to a middle man, in short the church of Rome. It established a control system we are all suffering from today.

          They established a church along with Constantine the caesar. It had little to do with Jesus and was more about holding the roman empire together after the vedic priests had been killed in the vatican.

          Paul and Luke were about as capable of writing a holy scripture as the guy you typically meet in front of the seven eleven store. They are not sure if Luke actually wrote anything. Some believe that Paul’s blithering was actually tagged as that of Luke and deposited in the Theophilus library.

          In fact these are the words of Jesus if you are interested and they dramatically oppose the the religion of the one book cooked up by Rome, Paul, Luke, John Dee, Constantine and King James.

          Jesus didn’t have a book, didn’t build in temples. In fact he indicated the body was the temple of the spirit and these are his words. And they are pure Veda. That is why the Vedic priests were killed.

  3. That was one pissed-off Irishman with a lot of fortitude.

    The power of nuclear weapons lies in your beLIEf in them, not in their actual existence. Einstein lied, E≠mc², you cannot change matter into “pure energy” by smashing two pieces of metal together, no matter how radioactive they are, and the “atom bomb” does not exist, except in the minds of most men of the world. But the hoax sure worked wonders creating “superpowers” in the world, didn’t it?!

    RIP, Daniel Berrigan.

    1. The atom bomb doesn’t exist? Where did you get that? I have heard that Japan’s bombs may have been firebombing instead, but haven’t seen any info that would suggest nuclear weapons do not exist-could we get some references please

      1. I won’t leave links on it as they never go through and I am not in a position to say for sure. Miles Mathis has some interesting research on this however and there are many youtubes out there on it.

        Mathis proves to my satisfaction anyway that pics we see of supposed nuclear blasts from the 50s etc are dummied up and not real.

        Google the father of nuclear revisionism, Roger Desjardins, nuke lies etc.

        We know for sure however that tests run on those who survived Nagasaka and Hiroshima don’t show an DNA damage which one would expect from such blasts. There are theories and post also theorizing on the emperor simply making a deal to fire bomb those two towns which were heavily christian in order to surrender.

        1. I have been searching this subject since you posted it-seems a real possibility, at least the early nukes may have frauds, if not possibly all nuclear weapons go,
          I have never seen one, or talked to anyone who saw a nuclear explosion (except on film, and some films appear to be frauds, on first inspection),
          The idea that the bombings went off without a hitch (kind of like the moon landing, if you research the performance issues with the LEM its hard to believe the very first mission worked flawlessly) strike me as unbelievable,
          in all these years since at least WWII no nuclear terrorists attacks have happened, this I find hard to believe, the weapons black market being what it is,
          another rabbit hole…

        2. Hey Mick, here is a conspiracy for you-
          The Ship that carried the alleged nuke to Japanese waters was the Indianapolis,
          which was sunk on the trip back-
          any connections?

  4. Funny, Jesuits are everywhere, and while we know the original incarnation of Jesuits was a terrorist organization, Murder Inc.,
    but what about the reformed Jesuits today? We have very little discussion in here on this secret society, which may be more powerful than the Zionist international mafia

    1. They are made up of same, Loyola the founder was one of the eternal victims as are a wide array of former popes which is very well hidden. That includes Benedict who also just happened to be part of the nazi youth corps. That includes pope Pious XII, Pope John Paul, Anacletus II,Pope Gregory VII, Loyola’s secretary Polanco was also.

      As John Torell explains: “In 1491 San Ignacio de Loyola was born in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa, Spain. His parents were Marranos and at the time of his birth the family was very wealthy.

      Catholic Cardinal Agagianian ran the Bolshevik slave labor camps.

      In General Ludendorfs book “Das Geheimnis Der Jesuitenmacht Und Ihr Ende” he agreed that the Jesuits are controlled by chosenites.

      Bertha Bigfoot gave birth to Charlemagne and they began killing off the royal Merolingians in Europe and replacing them.

      The Black Nobility were a small group of aristocratic families of Rome who had stood by the popes following the seizure of their dominions in the bitter struggle for the creation of the nation-state of Rome.

      Josef Stalin was born to influential Catholic parents Vissarion “Beso” Dzhugashvili and Ekaterina “Keke” Geladze. His father Beso was a successful and relatively wealthy local businessman. However, in later biographies, he is variously described as poor, dirt poor and a violent alcoholic.

      Whatever the real truth, Josef was accepted into the Catholic Cappuchin run school at Gori. He graduated in 1892 first in his class and at the age of 14 he was accepted to enter the “Orthodox” Seminary of Tiflis (Tbilisi, Georgia), a Jesuit institution to be trained as a Jesuit priest.

      In spite of contrary history written about the Jesuit run Seminary, the Jesuits remained in Russian territory after the order was banned by Alexander I in 1820, maintaining control of several institutions, including the Seminary of Tiflis.

      The wealthy families that back the vatican are guess what?


      1. Wow, thanks for the laugh! I came here to read Dr. Tracy’s post on Berrigan, and stumbled on your pseudo-historical comment totally by accident.
        Coincidentally, my doctorate is in eastern theology, with a specialization in Russia. Your description of Stalin as a Catholic is, as my students would say, freaking hilarious! As if there were ever ANY “influential Catholics” in Russia during the entire course of its thousand-year history! And a Catholic Cardinal ran the Soviet labor-camps, seriously? What alternate reality do you live in?

  5. I’m surprised to see so many people in here who view the Bible (or any other religious work) as a historical reference,
    while it contains much history and information it is hardly a historical treatise or reference, or a scientific work, or even a modern work, it was never written to be such,
    yet as a spiritual guide,
    from the point of view of the early church and writers the apocalypse was something they saw as unfolding in the 1st cent AD, not 2016,

    1. Religious texts are problematic at best,
      the strange thing is, the very people who wrote,
      scribed, transmitted, and redacted the Bible are
      also the group that many Christians would call the “Synagogue of Satan,”
      the irony

  6. Manuela Orlandi, abducted for vatican sex parties has still not been found. The 15 year old girl was snatched from the streets of Rome in 1983 and still has not been found. There is no telling where she is as ex nun, Charlotte Keckler attests, she was sent to other countries, some had miles of tunnels under convents where all types diabolic activity occurred.

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