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Planet on Strike 


The Displaced Person's Almanac 

The Liberated Zone: 
A Guide to Christian Resistance 

Tlie Lebanon and Phoenicia: Ancient Texts 

Illustrating Their Physical Geography 

and Native Industries, Volume I 

John Pairman Brown 







Copyright (q) 1970 by John Pairman Brown 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 78-100351 

Design by Carol Basen 


Printed in the United States of America 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used 
or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written 
permission from the publisher, except in the case of 
brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. 

George, Felicity, Maryam, and David 



This book was written by a middle-aged person 
for the young, who are likely not to read it, but 
with whom he still works. Not as objects of paternal or 
missionary concern, but as comrades in a risky forced push 
into the future, in spite of our differences in hairdo and 
domestic arrangements. Another middle-aged person look- 
ing over our shoulders may feel I reach conservative con- 
clusions by revolutionary logic. Well, the aim is helping 
stabilize a global community to carry out fundamental 
changes demanded by the needs of the planet, of the poor, 
of our hearts, and laid on us by an old book in all our 

I have here to present more than conventional thanks 
to The Seabury Press for buying a pig in a poke; and a more 
than conventional disclaimer that it doesn't necessarily 
express the views of any incorporated body — not even the 
Free Church of Berkeley, whose trustees released me from 
what seemed like more urgent jobs to write it. It does 
express, as best I could, the conclusions required by The 
Liberated Zone — the suggestions for personal life which 
the Church Divinity School of the Pacific kindly repatri- 
ated me from the Middle East to make. Once again Dick 
York and my wife, Emily, held my hand when the work 
went badly. 

viii . PREFACE 

My diligent editor across the continent, and the slothful 
editor in my heart, still point to faults of matter and or- 
ganization. I can only explain that the world's laser-beam 
never gave me a chance to cool down. Each morning 
brought new reports of daring and folly: footsteps in lunar 
dust, poisons in the seabed. Each night I went to sleep with 
the sound in my ears of that bombing which has brought 
on a planetary revolt. But also, just during the writing I've 
felt the growth of a precious community, seen and unseen, 
whose views I was simply recording. On our bootleg Tel- 
star channel, in spite of war, pollution, and resentment, 
there is going out a message of hope. 

John Pairman Brown 

Berkeley, California 

August 12, 1969 

Anniversary of William Blake's death, 1827. 



Introduction: The Revolution and Its Demands 1 

Part I: The Phases of Revolution 13 

Chapter One Green Revolution: Renewal of 

the Environment 14 

Chapter Two Peace Revolution: Renewal of 

Community 27 

Chapter Three Inner Revolution: Renewal of 

Integrity 41 

Part II: The Demands of Our New Life 55 

Chapter Four The Demand for Fidelity: Going 

Through the Waters 56 

Chapter Five The Demand for Love: The 

Source of Creativity 77 

Chapter Six The Demand for Usefulness: 

Actual Vocation 93 


Chapter Seven The Demand for Justice: Going 

Beyond Power 108 

Chapter Eight The Demand to Help: Waiting 

on Table 125 

Chapter Nine The Demand for Hope: Falling 

Casualty 143 

Chapter Ten The Demand for Joy: The Feast 155 
conclusion: New Containers, New Contents 174 


The Revolution 
and Its Demands 

Unlicensed by any authorities, a global under- 
ground communications network has sprung up, 
calling for a planetary strike. It's responding to a crisis 
of violence on three levels: against natural order, social 
order, individual freedom. More often than not, the 
strikers meet violence with counter-violence. To that ex- 
tent, there's no revolution happening, but only a change 
of masters — which may help things some, but in the end 
not enough. The trouble is, the demands presented haven't 
been thought through, they're merely tactical. But if they 
could find their proper anchorage in the past, they'd be- 
come our bellbuoys in the fog blowing landward from the 
sea of the future. 

So on the vacant lots of the old society, in between 
skirmish and counter-skirmish of police and militants, I 
remove the litter to uncover three hopeful new shoots, 
springing from layers of the present which were deposited 
by successive periods of evolution. Corresponding to our 
roots in the biological environment, our extension in soci- 


ety, and our transcendence of both in individual freedom, 
we discover an authentic triple revolution of life: the 
green revolution of conservation, the peace revolution of 
liberated community, the inner revolution of integrity. 
The first part of this book outlines the shape they're be- 
ginning to take on. 

Through the imperfect strategy of the strike, men 
and women around the globe today are claiming an actual 
role in that revolution, for the first time daring to become 
themselves. The human race has issued a non-negotiable 
demand for life. The second part of this book analyzes the 
renewal in the periods of our individual life required by 
the novel situation. We've inherited symbolic forms to 
shape each life-phase. In face of the urgent revolutions for 
conservation and peace, these forms must be radically 
adapted to build up a new level of personal consistency — 
the inner revolution. As soon as we start to work out those 
adaptations, we see they were precisely what time's arrow 
(which also generated the crisis of violence) had all along 

"On Strike, Shut It Down" 

The cracked leather of traditional institutions has a 
flexible new wineskin inside; the rising ferment of peo- 
ple's rebellion is the actual sap which must be poured into 
it. The young bear the future; revolution wins out in the 
end. Both young and old have a hand in determining 
whether the revolution is violent or not; unilateral conces- 
sions are required of both sides. To avoid further 
bloodshed and stiffening of positions, the old must 


relinquish the power which in any case will be taken from 
them by death. To avoid haphazard rebuilding, the young 
must voluntarily accept and refine old institutions, which 
in some form will be forced on them by the need to run 

The old are older today, and comparatively there are 
fewer of them. As technology accelerates the pace of his- 
toric time, the decade when their opinions were formed 
constantly recedes further from the present. Until popula- 
tion increase is damped, the majority will be under thirty. 
The old men in the managerial classes of the planet, 
whether corporate or socialist, were raised on humorless 
self-denying ideologies of economics, which further dis- 
torted the one-sided insights of Calvin and Marx. The 
great thing was to work hard, plow one's labor back into 
the system (the Economy or Party), and by its gratitude 
assure a stable niche for one's children. Today both means 
and ends are dropping away. 

The peoples that used to supply raw materials and 
cheap labor to the Great Powers are asking for them back 
again. The lower middle class is less and less interested in 
providing the clerical help to run the System. As the Sys- 
tem automates, it faces a generation which rejects the role 
of knowledgeable consumer. Women and children picket 
the expensive missile systems their menfolk set up to pro- 
tect them. Prague doesn't wish to be saved from capitalist 
intervention. The sons of Defense Secretaries occupy Har- 
vard buildings. Meanwhile judges, bishops, politicians go 
on speaking as if old sanctions were still operative. Young 
people are thrown back on their own perceptions, crudely 
formed by the mass media^ — but not so crudely as to miss 
the contrast between professed and actual goals. 


The old men, who can't read the signals, in frustra- 
tion tighten traditional controls. As the helicopters of 
nightmare drift from cradle to cradle, in Saigon, in Bo- 
livia, in Tokyo, in Berkeley, mothers and children and old 
people, seeing themselves crop-dusted like insects with 
toxic agents, in rage and hope strike out against bullying. 
The spontaneous agreement of Catholics around the 
world to shelve the encyclical Humanae Vitae shows a con- 
fidence they know what's good for their families, their so- 
ciety, their environment. Liberation movements, defeat- 
ing eight-engine bombers with bicycles, tanks with molotov 
cocktails, bayonets with flowers, are a political affirmation 
of the dignity of man — which their American and Russian 
masters once meant to affirm by their revolutions. At the 
fragile point of society, where young people are com- 
puter-dated with jobs, there's a massive refusal to accept 
what they can only see as paternalism and complicity. The 
planet is on strike. 

It's hard for a ruling class to be reminded that its 
status rests on the destruction of private property in a Bos- 
ton Tea Party. Daughters of the American Revolution 
still must try to see that the liberated young woman taking 
a daily pill is intending to carry on their work. The Uni- 
versity is embarrassed at its origin in the protest of a Soc- 
rates against illegitimate claims, when the underprivileged 
ask for it to be turned over to them once again. At the 
mythical fountainhead of that Judaeo-Christian heritage 
invoked by commencement speakers lie the non-nego- 
tiable demands of a brick-makers' union. Around the 
globe goes up a shout, "On strike, shut it down." 

The rebels, with all their shortcomings, have still 
caught the masters at the weak point of their rhetoric. Es- 


tablishment anger towards blacks, students, Viet Cong, 
hippies is frustration at being inhibited by its own 
principles from wiping them out on the spot. It should in- 
deed be shocking to see guns carried into college adminis- 
tration buildings — but hardly for a public bored with 
seeing guns fired into peasant villages. There must be a 
better way than guns; but few persons in America (or 
Russia) have illustrated it, and few of them have had med- 
als struck in their lifetime. Perhaps the strikers fail to 
make the best case, concentrating on superficial grievances 
or amnesty for themselves; all the more reason to help 
them find it. 

For the case is there. The voices of protest, however 
shrill, inconsistent, parochial, each are getting at some in- 
justice or folly which cries out for instant correction. Even 
though every set of infuriating non-negotiable demands 
should prove improper, the principle of non-negotiable 
demands corresponds to the way things actually are. Our 
right to exist on this planet, although not our own inven- 
tion, isn't something we must wheedle from any big daddy 
as we bring him his slippers. The unalterable demands of 
the strikers aren't all that different from the "inalienable 
rights" of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; or 
from something we may still remember, the thirst for 
God's justice and vindication which admits no substitute. 

The planetary environment, pushed beyond its break- 
ing point, is also going on strike: Lake Erie is dead, the 
butterflies are disappearing, industrial air is unbreathable. 
The ecology has an unexpected ally, the young of the 
human species, whose diurnal cycle, violated by noise and 
office-routine, by distraction and boredom, by pills and 
pills, is refusing to function. Our technicians in research 


and development branches, in crowd-control seminars, 
screened for psychological stability, could keep all else in 
line, but not their own kids. Mrs. Leigh Roycroft at seven- 
teen wrote the San Francisco Chronicle (April 16, 1969): 
"When I was four years old we lived on Nell is Air Force 
Base in Las Vegas. I remember so clearly, too clearly, the 
misty early mornings when sleep was still half claiming. I 
remember my mother coming to wake my brother and me 
on the occasion of still another in-atmosphere nuclear test. 
I can still see with nightmare clarity that mushroom cloud 
rising and expanding, tinted rose and orange and all the 
colors of life as the sun came up over the desert. O great si- 
lent majority, did you ever have the bomb before your 
breakfast? I went, for a short while, to school in Fairfield, 
home of Travis Air Force Base. My school faced hills on 
which stood the gaunt gantrys of missiles planted during 
the Cuban crisis. It went so well with my white-washed 
American history," 

The American homeowner and the Asiatic insurgent 
are stuck with each other in this telluric closed system, a 
potential Eden walled off by the cherubim of galactic 
space. Why is it so hard for them to get together on it? 
Mutual insecurity cuts deep. It's well not to underestimate 
the hostility of Israelis and Arabs, Turks and Armenians, 
Malaysians and Chinese. Hardest of all to placate are those 
responsible for mass death; they're threatened with total 
collapse if they should admit their guilt. How can the 
murderer be brought back into decent society? To avoid 
despairing of people, we must find a way to say that the 
enemy isn't evil people but evil powers — and then deal 
with them. The fact of broken orders calls for a different 
answer than preventive detention of militants on the one 
hand, and glacially gradual reform of institutions on the 


other. The gap is widening too fast for any such putty to 
fill it. 

The idiocy of two missile-systems facing each other 
across the Arctic underlines a monstrous psychological 
fact: distrust. No narrower is the rift between uptight par- 
ent and dropout child: anger, silence, refusal to credit the 
other with wishing to bridge it. And who will reconcile 
the robin on the lawn with the DDT manufacturer? 

Any spontaneous response is quickly overlaid with 
time, habit. We mentally block out jails, war; out of sight, 
out of mind. We jump at the chance to authenticate the 
lies told about us; as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. 
No abstract goodwill overcomes distrust; required are 
work, suffering, discipline. But when our antagonisms 
push both sides into unrepairable damage to society or the 
planet, we see that trust is necessary. Then it must be pos- 
sible. Like other living things, it's only born of its own 
kind. That orange only ripens on a tree whose sap flows 
back and back to a root outside space and time. Like other 
trees, its growth is often stunted; but it doesn't have to be, 
it can fill the world. 

The Breaking and Renewal of Natural Orders 

As all the systems of global biology and society inter- 
lock, as all human beings intersect, the massive job of re- 
newal can't be broken up into absolutely separate compo- 
nents; it's a single cake. Still, a cake elaborate enough for 
a fresh start, a birthday or wedding, has to be built up in 
layers, and then cut in sectors. The two parts of this book 
slice renewal in those two ways at right angles to each 
other, beginning with the three layers of natural order. 


Planetary evolution generated in turn two levels of 
organization: nature and society. A man or woman — a bio- 
logical organism caught up in a stream of history — is the 
place they overlap. The individual appears to be the sum 
of his biological inheritance and of his contacts with other 
individuals. But that sum stands on a higher third level: 
the freedom of a being aware of having emerged from ear- 
lier phases of evolution. 

We're the top growth of the tree of life, spreading up- 
wards to meet the sun abo\ e the lower canopies of biology 
and history. But the world-tree has been attacked on our 
level by an undiagnosed blight, which spreads back down 
from us. Again and again its golden apples crumble into 
the cindery fruits of Sodom. Our intelligence lets us evade, 
for a time, the limits placed by fixed global resources on 
the spread of every other species. But that spore of reason 
has puffed up into the toadstools of overpopulation and 
technology, which overload the environment with unsuita- 
ble items. Right from the beginning, social order has been 
only a dream; history is the record of class struggle, op- 
pression of subject populations. 

Only in our own years have all three levels of vio- 
lence been seen as interrelated and of equal urgency. 
While each was always latent, those which depend on de- 
veloped technology both appear later, and are harder to 
reverse. Although the disruption of global ecology came 
last, it will take a global effort to undo it. 

The agency responsible for destruction of natural or- 
ders obviously includes ourselves. Still, even the person 
most directly responsible for the damage — the racist, gen- 
eral, broker, logger, bully, advertiser, cardinal — can find 
plausible excuses; he's operating inside a system not of his 


own making. It's true also that at some point he made a 
decision not to fight it. 

As corruption builds up, the claims of evil become 
more insistent, but at the same time more strongly con- 
trasted with our instincts. Individuals through their im- 
mersion in an exploitative system either consciously assent 
to violence, or actively initiate it. But they also suffer it 
directly from others, and indirectly from the environment. 
Every person is both victim and accomplice in the break- 
ing of orders. 

The same intelligence and freedom involved in the 
breaking also makes restoration of the orders possible. It 
would be hopeless to try and begin reconstruction from 
the ground up in any one generation. But, just as the dark 
thread of violence can be traced indefinitely far back, so 
can a golden thread of renewal — the history of hope. By it 
we lay hold on the gieen revolution, replacing economic 
"development" of the planet by ecological decontamina- 
tion, recycling all materials. In the peace revolution we 
replace individual aggression by persuasion within 
community. The inner revolution means replacing self- 
assertion with gentleness. We can summarize the triple 
breakthrough in the old hope of a new Jerusalem: at once 
a restored garden, with its river and tree of life; a city at 
peace; a building whose stones are the pearls of individual 
lives. A new planet, new community, new humanity. 

Our New Fidelity 

Last Maundy Thursday when my wife and I went to 
our Free Church, a boy with an Indian headband far out 


on some trip came up and asked if we were Quakers. The 
word has gone out that one class of persons anyvvay, 
through consistency over the centuries, has merited trust. 
Kind reader, is he called by your name? If not, now would 
be a good time for reappraisal of self. 

For we do hold our life in our hands. Each revolu- 
tion, even when it ends up in new slavery, is still affirming 
the springtime of individual liberation. The new plane- 
tary citizen, a Hammarskjold, goes directly where the 
threat to community is greatest; and that's only the 
negative side of a new fidelity starting to breed true. 
Under the most hopeful assumptions, it will take a num- 
ber of generations to be fairly sure that the threat has been 
averted. What level of spirituality will be built up by men 
of all cultures actually cooperating over those centuries? 

The individual man or woman is given the best 
chance of working into renewal at the turning-points of life 
which begin a new phase of its trajectory. Some are 
unique: birth, puberty, death. Some are periodic: falling 
casualty, celebration. Some may be either: entering into 
sexual fulfilment, taking on vocation. Each stage rests on a 
biological function essential to maintain either the indi- 
vidual or the species. Each also generates a social 
grouping: the family, working team, class, school, the 
State. The biological and social functions of each stage 
stand for some aspect of individual freedom which goes 
beyond them. People become most aware of violence and 
renewal, both in nature and society, at those interchanges. 

Personal renewal into integrity can only be effected 
through a symbolism of word, action, or object, operating 
at the roots of nature and history. The scene of that hap- 
pening is community — what in some sense we may call the 


Church. Through community, individuals have their best 
leverage on politics to push forward the green revolution, 
and in part the peace revolution; but on a longer view, the 
community itself is the spreading area of peace. 

In the history of community, the torch we inherit and 
pass on, the claim is made that the inner revolution has al- 
ready in principle been carried out. Individual crises are 
given universal meaning by their anchorage in an histori- 
cal event so distant (and even in its own time long ex- 
pected) that all peoples can today recognize in it a 
fountainhead of their own history. Our new awareness of 
violence and renewal makes us look at the origins of the 
Church in the life of Jesus under a different light. The 
current revolution requires us to reinterpret the ancient 
revolution of which he was the center. This reinterpreta- 
tion won't be arbitrary. For he represents the coming-of- 
age of Western history, which in turn plays the key role in 
planetary history. The violence against which he strug- 
gled, and his new definition of community, are the sources 
of current breakage and current fidelity. 

The wise men we still fall back on, both in West and 
East, describe our fulfilment as taking the right course — 
varying with the local development of land transport, a 
path or road; the Way, Seafaring societies envisage it as a 
voyage by water. And it not merely has to fit the unique 
parabola of our personal development; the future terrain 
we must build it across hasn't even been deposited yet by 
the volcanic or sedimentary processes of the present — 
namely, the sum of all our individual routes. No television 
into time will show us that driver, the future Me, or the 
deteriorating vehicle of his body. The one sign we can be 
sure of finding is ROAD UNDER CONSTRUCTION. 


As monitor of the march, many have followed Dante 
the Florentine out of the dark waste to see the stars. Oth- 
ers stand with Bunyan the tinker, a load on their back and 
a book in their hand, looking up to the distant wicket 
gate: "What must I do to be saved?" Some children I 
know have set up a permanent picket line against a certain 
Lord of the Dark Tower. Russians have Zhivago, Vietnam- 
ese their much-suffering sister Kieu. But beyond poetry, 
allegory, fairy tale, fiction, epic, we also need as plain a 
map as may be of the unfinished road. So I've undertaken 
here, writing not far from the Hay ward fault and under a 
target moon, to draw up a simplified guide to the over- 
night lodgings we'll all be staying at, Americans and oth- 
ers alike, on our journey under protest across the land- 
scape of revolution. 

part I: The Phases 
of Revolution 

chapter ONE 

Green Revolution: 
Renewal of the 

Throughout the universe, higher levels of or- 
ganization imitate lower levels — and always with 
important novelties. Things have more detail, both in 
space and time, than myth or speculation ever guessed. Not 
surprising; since our myth-making faculty is just one fea- 
ture of cosmic self-understanding. We can be sure also that 
the universe is more complicated than our minds, how- 
ever scientific, have yet perceived. Still we must act on 
what they report to date. 

The Patterns of Natural Order 

The physical world repeats patterns on very different 
scales in space, and thus sets a precedent for biology and 
history in time. The atom has a nucleus of heavy particles 
with a hiveful of electrons buzzing around it. In most of 
the universe, atoms are bound by shared electrons into 
simple molecules, which are then built in extremely large 


numbers into the regular patterns of gas, liquid, crystal. 
As nuclear forces fade out and electric forces cancel, a new 
type of force becomes discernible, the gravitational. By it 
solar systems are held together, patterned like the atom, 
but simpler and less regular. As nuclear and electric forces 
limit the size of a nucleus, gravity and thermodynamics 
limit the size of a star. Up to ten billion stars, thinly dis- 
persed as a gas, form rotating galaxies. They in turn, up to 
about a trillion, dispersed at random fill what looks like a 
finite expanding space. Its size is somehow determined by 
the "surface" tension of the matter it bears, curved in on 
itself like a soap-bubble in one more dimension. 

Again, the several dozen fugitive particles of nuclear 
decay may be pointing to a lower level of organization, so 
that each proton or electron would in turn be a structured 
little world. And our "universe" might conceivably be 
built along some dimension with others like itself into a 
bigger arrangement. Pascal suggests that the array of struc- 
tures both below the atom and beyond the galaxy is re- 
peated forever, so that the universe would be doubly 
infinite; each flea would bite a big flea, and have a little 
flea biting him. 

The known universe is a product of time, probably 
by expansion during ten billion years from an original 
tight beginning. But although the building-blocks, from 
elementary particles to galaxies, are subject to change, 
they persist over long periods comparable to the age of the 
whole. This state of affairs is greatly modified in special 
•environments like our planet, bathed in a constant flow of 
radiation from a sun-star. The energy of that stream 
builds atoms into organizations far more complex than 
anything else we know in the cosmos, with properties not 


suggested by the physicist's world — life, consciousness, 
love. We are the center; Ptolemy was right and Coperni- 
cus was wrong. The continuity of protoplasm behind us, 
back to the original condensation of the sea, is itself a fact 
of cosmic age; for it's occupied a large portion (perhaps 
twenty percent) of the assumed total age of the universe, 
during which many supernovas have been born and died. 
Planetary evolution differs in important ways from 

Elaboration through time. Galaxies and stars may not 
be much younger than atoms and protons; physical pat- 
terns could have crystallized on all levels at nearly the 
same time. But on the planet, structures were elaborated 
in time, from the protein-rich original sea to proto-viruses, 
one-celled organisms, complex organisms, vertebrates, 
land animals, more-or-less rational man. The spherical 
shell of life we inhabit has fewer atoms than the planet's 
iron heart, its crystalline layers, or the first sea; but it's not 
repetitive like a crystal or liquid, it has unending variety, 
functional specialization. And in its hierarchy of order, 
each higher center of organization is more recent than the 
one below it. 

Acceleration of evolutionary time. Evolutionary time, 
as measured by the appearance of new levels of order 
against standard physical time, has speeded up a billion- 
fold. The Palaeolithic period is comparable to ages of 
biological evolution; and it's true that the mutations of flu 
virus happen in the historic periods of years — perhaps 
triggered by social and medical change. But over against 
cosmic and planetary evolution, our decades represent a 


new phenomenon, where features of the biological and 
social environment change drastically in ten earth-orbits 
around the sun. 

Fragility of living structures. Physical structures are 
too big or too widespread to be affected by man's intelli- 
gence. We have nothing to split a star or planet with. Our 
splitting of nuclei repeats something which happens any- 
way in stars, its products liave an advance slot in the sys- 
tem. On the planet, every level of organization is vulnera- 
ble to environmental changes — an eruption, earthquake, 
ice age, tropical age, increase in solar radiation, 
meteor-fall. Species or phyla fall prey to destructive muta- 
tions, to their neighbors. And the evolution has culmi- 
nated in a system of organization — ourselves — with the 
power to destroy itself, lower levels, and large parts of the 
environment which has evolved along with them. 

In spite of these big differences, planetary evolution 
maintains previous levels of organization and builds them 
into contemporary structures. A redwood's grain summa- 
rizes its push upwards and its bracing against gravity over 
a thousand years. The animals in a square mile of grass- 
land are the result of hundreds of millions of years of de- 
velopment; their distribution holds the key to the making 
and breaking of land-bridges between the continents. The 
spices in our kitchens, a cross-section of global botany, 
summarize the whole history of commerce since the 
Roman Empire; the cassia of Solomon and Sappho origi- 
nated in the Mekong Delta. 

Long before modern science, understanding of our 
roots in ecology was available through myth or specula- 


tion. The nine months of gestation have always on some 
level been seen to echo the emergence of life from the sea. 
The feeling for sacred groves and the earth mother was re- 
born in the eighteenth century through identification with 
the wilderness, at the point of its destruction by industrial- 
ism. And in turn these biological patterns are taken up 
and transformed on the levels of society and individual 

The Breaking of Biological Order 

The physical properties of water determine where life 
can exist. As the fixing of the simplest charged particle, 
the proton, water parallels in the living environment the 
flux of charged particles in the sun. Also then it stands for 
all environmental orders, the reservoirs which supply the 
water of our life. 

It seems a general rule that, whatever can happen, 
will happen; every potentiality in the end is realized. The 
fact that biology and society are vulnerable to technology 
and overpopulation implies that somewhere, sometime, 
the wound will actually be struck. But to the responsible 
conscious agent, that breaking of natural order is seen 
under the category of wrong. In the first age of literature 
which remains definitive for us, the poet shows how the 
inexplicable act would appear to a power underlying the 
space-time manifold: "My people have done two evils; 
they have rejected me, the fountain of living water, to dig 
for themselves reservoirs, broken reservoirs, which cannot 
hold water" (Jeremiah 2: 13). As the imagined environ- 
mental Golden Age is violated, all the orders fall away: bi- 


ological order is altered by weeds, social order by murder, 
individual order by death newly seen as threat, "For you 
are dust, and to dust you will return." 

In the past, only a rare observer could note irreversi- 
ble changes in the environment, as when Plato records 
that great houses in Athens stood built with timber from 
hills where in his day only the bee pastured. Ours is the 
first generation universally aware of such changes — the in- 
troduction of chlorinated hydrocarbons as pesticides 
around the globe. Violence between groups has also taken 
new forms, to which the mass media create new awareness, 
both among executioners and victims. 

The original biological rhythms of our life have been 
built by history as fixed-cycle components into systems 
undergoing ever more rapid change. At most, puberty is 
anticipated by two or three years, death postponed by 
twenty or thirty. No wonder then so many take on 
chemicals for metabolic adjustment to the altered environ- 
ment. We that make do with traditional caffeine and alco- 
hol seem the queer ones, who can't attune our ears to the 
amplifiers, our eyes to the cathode-ray tube, our hands to 
the freeway. 

Americans, living in affluent communities, parasitic 
on other parts of the globe even for water, form an exag- 
gerated picture of what technology can do. Inherited bio- 
logical and historical structures are not indefinitely mal- 
leable like gold. No counter-technology will work against 
oil-slicks and deforestation; only the skill and restraint 
which conform so close to the contours of nature as to be a 
second nature. 

As body rhythms point back to the beginning of life 
on the planet, our discomfort at violence points ahead to a 


planet again waste and void when demonism has run its 
course. The same old books which anticipated our discov- 
ery of evolution are still far in advance of us, in their con- 
crete symbolism of the end of world illustrating where our 
road leads. If our politics is to steer a clumsy United Na- 
tions into the right way, it must be guided by delicate in- 
dividual compasses. We enter deeper into ourselves, trace 
out each broken root in our earth mother, patiently set up 
conditions for new life. Our emotions, reason, conscious- 
ness — each aspect of our freedom — are somehow a blos- 
soming from the basic conditions of the amoeba or the 
cell: assimilation and reproduction. 

Biological Roots of Our Freedom 

Assimilation. In tropical climates, the energy of pri- 
mary human organization can go simply into assuring the 
food-supply. In colder climates, we feel like working 
harder — and must, to assure clothing and shelter also. Un- 
usually favorable environments like Polynesia, with guar- 
anteed food-supply, produce societies with built-in 
population controls, where the bulk of energy flows into 
an elaborate ingrown artistic culture. The original func- 
tion of economic, political, social power is to put a protec- 
tive frontier around foodlands or waters. Getting food, or 
its symbolic equivalent, is the primary need which pushes 
the male into his vocation. Money in young America is ap- 
propriately called "bread," as in Rome it was called 
"cows" (pecunia). 

Our superabundance of energy can lend itself to mis- 
direction, and therefore from time to time does. In a char- 
acter where the emotions are diverted inward or 


downward, which Freud ingeniously called the anal fixa- 
tion, money the food-equivalent is transformed into a 
dung-equivalent, as in the constipated miser, the stock 
figure of comedy. 

In a simple society, community is manifested by shar- 
ing the food-supply which it exists to protect. The charac- 
teristic form of community is the feast. In the temperate 
climates of the West, the feast is celebrated with special 
vestments in a temple — the symbolic use of food, shelter, 
and clothing. 

Primary aggressiveness aims at capturing the enemy's 
food-supply. Judging our neighbor's fears by our own, we 
credit him Avith preparing to anticipate an attack of our 
own on him. Our imagination of the worst is self- 
fulfilling, giving us a permanent motive of union for the 
self-defense which ahvays spills over into pre-emptive 

Reproduction. Sexuality and hunger compete for our 
attention, generating love and comradeship. In different 
ways for the man and the woman, sexuality is a detaching 
of something from the self as a beginning of new life. It 
too can become diverted like money, and get assimilated 
to the excretory organs it shares. Love is an intenser form 
of community; but the sexual act, except in the symbolic 
form of a dance, is less well adapted than the feast to pub- 
lic cult. Males of the human species, lacking (apart from 
their beards) ornamental secondary sexual characteristics, 
compensate by adorning the feast with music and dance. 

Wherever social patterns disintegrate, sexuality like 
money-getting becomes an end in itself. The Greeks called 
interest on a loan tokos, "begetting." With us, sexuality is 
a dominant theme of the advertising that urges us to move 


out of anal fixation and spend money — the muck that's no 
use unless spread. Again, we have more children than is to 
the planet's interest, JFrom fear that the enemy, imitating 
our aggression, will outnumber us: "Happy is the man 
who has his quiver full of them; he will not be ashamed 
when he speaks with his enemy in the gate." Lehensraum 
for all those kids is the secondary motive of aggression — 
which after a while, summing up money-getting and 
child-getting, becomes the final end in itself. Since the sex- 
ual motive is thought higher than the monetary, wars for 
economic expansion are motivated in heroic ages through 
the abduction of a frail Helen by some foreign Paris. In 
our unheroic age, the pretext for mass slaughter of civil- 
ians, with attendant prostitution, is the fiction of potent 
black or yellow men coming at our womenfolk with their 
military or sexual "tools." 

As sexual and working energy wane, the world needs 
our death to make room for yoimger men and women. Be- 
sides the urge to beget a family and community, we have 
built into us a complementary acquiescence in death. 
When the death-wish gets out of hand, it takes the forms 
of self-hate, proneness to accidents, the courting of failure, 
suicide. If we can project its object onto another person, it 
becomes one more reinforcement of aggression. But prop- 
erly canalized, it provides the biological root for the most 
human of actions, self-sacrifice. 

The Breaking of Natural Patterns in Us 

Biologically, assimilation and reproduction represent 
the conquest of space by protoplasm. When life rises to the 
level of tool-using consciousness, space is also conquered 


by the products of life— technology. When consciousness 
rises to the level of history, the spread of our species also 
conquers time; the awareness of this fact is the birth of 
language. The ultimate form of language is to define in 
poetry or legend the meaning of community as shown by 
"intercourse," social or sexual. 

In the takeup of nature into history, as biological ne- 
cessities are derailed into inappropriate functions, aggres- 
sion (natural when directed at the bully) is institutional- 
ized into subjecting the weaker. We reverse Vergil's impe- 
rial maxim to read, "To spare the proud and put down 
the conquered." The crown of our self-understanding, lan- 
guage, is perverted into pretending that the weaker is a 
threat, or that our aggression is to his interest. In the 
counter-functionality of the mass media, our ultimate 
function of understanding ourselves is corrupted into the 
ultimate perversion of deceiving ourselves. 

Overpopulation with its attendant aggression over- 
loads the very environment we were trying to secure; tech- 
nology by its side compounds the damage. The beginning 
of a cure comes by our empathy with the childhood of the 
race in its instinctive revulsion at needlessly destroying a 
tree or an animal. We must then bring the needs of the en- 
vironment into the turning-points of our life — precisely 
where the biological needs of the organism come to the 
fore, in actuality or symbolism. 

The Restoration of Natural Order: A New Concern 

A new concern is being built into our muscles and 
imaginations — the green revolution. If we're raising a 
family, own a woodlot, run a regulatory agency, we'll try 


to make it a model. But of course the real problems are on 
planetary scale: reversing pollution and exploitation, city 
and country planning, extending wilderness areas. Inter- 
national treaties with UN sanctions are needed. In the 
meantime a multiplication of voluntary groups like the 
Sierra Club is required — the more political the better, here 
is where politics can't go wrong. Right now we can start 
looking for men and money to restore the defoliated Viet- 
namese jungle. 

Conservation in America, which had reached a liberal 
deadlock with the last national parks, in the last few years 
has cut deeper into our psyches. Rachel Carson made 
DDT a political issue, offshore drilling made oil a politi- 
cal issue, Ronald Reagan made trees a political issue. 
George Orwell saw that the sexual act would become a po- 
litical act. Berkeley made nonviolence ecological; Frank 
Bardacke said, "Don't throw stones, they are parts of our 
mother." Nobody has the globe patented. The American 
Indian will have the last word, who shows up from time to 
time to remind us that even he is only the tenant of the 
land; the Great Spirit can bring himself to shake the 
groimd and drop the fire because he knows that the Indian 
who upholds his peace will be able to survive. 

Where suffragettes used to chain themselves to street- 
lights, it's more important for people to watch housewives 
chaining themselves to redwoods on TV. When the dam- 
age is done it's done; here massive civil disobedience most 
clearly has right on its side. Eventually the law must forget 
about ownership and come aroimd to the principle that 
birds, mountains, waterways are nobody's private property 
but God's. Earth and the Tree of Life rooted in her have a 
prescriptive right to existence. 


Nothing so brings us back to our childhood, to our 
real selves, as remembering what kind of rocks used to 
form the streambed, which flowers came up first in spring. 
Nothing so brings home to us the existence of different 
peoples as the apprehension of a different landscape in a 
Japanese print. For me the war really means a country stay 
at Nam Dinh, sitting outside a guest-house on the Red 
River (October 6, 1967), stranded by explosions at mod- 
erate distance and anti-aircraft fire. The noon air has the 
feel of a very hot season now mostly passed by. Earlier, 
children had been swimming the other side of the river, 
and bare-legged girls slogging through the paddy; now 
they are resting and listening to the radio. Two house- 
boats with floppy striped sails are moored upstream, 
bicyclists below are going across a bridge with bamboo 
handrail. A girl from the commune is going by me to ^vash 
the dishes in the river. (The guest-house is equipped with 
a ne\\-style privy, and none of us Americans are getting 
dysentery.) Irrigation sloshes behind me in the banana 
grove where our camouflaged jeeps are parked, sur- 
rounded with big orange iris-like flowers in pots. Water 
lilies are floating at the river's edge. The Western eye 
must refocus to see that the thickets alternating with rice 
paddies are all bamboo, in dozens of species. Two dogs are 
playing beside me in the banana tree's shade, and golden 
sparrows hardly bigger than hummingbirds dart at the 
blossoms. Cooperation between nature and the works of 
man; a variation on the theme of a Vermont river- 
meadow, something quite different the planet had up its 

The power of the environment to resist our 
depredations is indirect and long-term: cutting off the sup- 


ply of something we need to live. While the rivers still run 
clear, we must grit our teeth and go into the offices of men 
who think us fools, to make our plea for living things. The 
Greeks set temples where they were aware of gods already 
existing, as at Delphi. Benedictines picked abbeys with an 
eye to agriculture, sanitation, landscape. But Terra is our 
temple, our abbey. When the burning of fossil fuels or the 
tarring of the surface disrupt her breathing and heat- 
balance, we just have to start phasing out our cars and jets. 
The spiral of evolution points ahead to true fulfilment of 
the most archaic Stone Age spirituality, when civilization 
has melted invisible back under a restored forest. 

chapter TWO 

Peace Revolution: 
Renewal of 

While physics and biology contain real knowl- 
edge constantly increasing, what are called psy- 
chology and sociology blur over old insights and don't 
replace them with a comparable body of knowledge. The 
understanding of human nature by any society is con- 
centrated in the events where it first became aware of itself. 
Each generation is lucky if it reaches its parents' level of 
that understanding. As midwife of the future, it has also to 
affirm something radically new; but it affirms the new 
thing about the free humanity it first saw through old 

The Social Orders and Their Breaking 

The biological needs taken up into our freedom are 
also spread out into social institutions. These are the nec- 
essary background of our self-understanding, but also the 
scene where the warping of natural orders goes furthest. 


Within each social grouping there is created an oppressed 
class of victims — which by that fact is potentially the 
bearer of the future. 

The jamily. Persons linked to us through begetting 
are our primary extensions into space and time, extra 
hands we can count on as our own. Through food-getting 
and reproduction we give birth to our own community, 
wiiich holds more land than we could by ourselves. So also 
in time; my father is the living voice of the past, my son 
the hope of the future. 

In the communication gap between parents who've 
accepted the challenge of affluence, and the young who re- 
ject the lavished gifts, the family generates two oppressed 
groups: the retired and the young. (It's not so clear to me 
as to some w^omen that women are oppressed; but in fol- 
lowing chapters I suggest some elements of their libera- 
tion.) Grandparents are baffled at the new generation 
conflict, and at their exclusion from it. There aren't any 
proper rooms for them in the new homes being built by a 
mobile class; they can't claim any longer to speak with in- 
herited authority. The young have organized themselves; 
it would take a new Confucius to organize the old. 

The working team. A father can hardly teach his son 
a job any more, cheated of a creative vocation himself and 
beginning to forget it. He simply identifies with current 
disorder; the young can see only hypocrisy and compro- 
mise. Paul Goodman, who found a big lack of manly jobs 
for the high-school graduate, chronicles the progressive dis- 
illusionment of the filling-station attendant. 

The prostitution and powerlessness spread all up the 


working scale; overpaid executives are equally unsure of 
their jobs and prisoners of the System. The System is pris- 
oner of itself. Personal fulfilment exists only in rare pock- 
ets on any level. But there is a graduated injustice of re- ^ 
ward, which Marxist analysis correctly sees as producing 
the victims of workers and unemployed. In America, '"■ 
where the grossly victimized are a minority, the ^ 
viciousness of the System lies in its inability to resolve pov- 
erty and exclusion for that minority; in its massive projec- 
tion of victimization overseas; in its dehumanizing effect 
on all levels at home. 

The community of knowledge. The bond of conscious- 
ness between past and future is the University, the weakest 
link in the chain of oppression. It victimizes a class of stu- 
dents — the increasing percentage of our young people who 
go there, and find it unresponsive to their hopes of voca- 
tion, and collusive with the State. 

Professors of language or biochemistry are distressed 
to see ill-informed students, Marxists or blacks, demand- 
ing seats on committees. They want no complicity in this 
overthrowing of the standards of competence and truth. 
But they hadn't previously confessed or noticed their com- 
plicity in an overthrowing of oppressed populations, their 
collaboration with agribusiness, slum landlords, mass 
media, makers of war. The University of California was 
the prime contractor for the hydrogen bomb. The stu- 
dents, groping for community, try to push back to medi- 
eval control by teachers and learners, before the faculty 
had gone into politics, and was replaced as owner of the 
University by politically appointed administrators. 

But there's no way the University can wholly screen 


out professional excellence in teachers and students. 
Competing schools of thought keep recognizable standards 
alive. The life of the sciences, arts, professions is objective 
enough so that from time to time actual competence 
breaks through. Thus Noam Chomsky, from his sanctuary 
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been the 
most responsible critic of professionals who abdicated re- 

Social classes. Groups of the same ethnic or cultural 
background should ideally be so bound up with a vocation 
or a vision of the future that they don't want to trade 
places with anybody. In Europe, most people wish to re- 
tain their own language, cuisine, and opera house; they're 
uninterested in emigrating. But there are only a few signs 
that every Akron is becoming a Vienna. Our immigrants 
sloughed off the best they brought, retaining vulgarized 
customs and churches less as a bulwark against assimila- 
tion than against black competition. Russia maintains 
varied peasant roots over against mass culture; we were 
uniquely unfortunate in the slave trade which built a vic- 
tim black class. 

Equality with functional differences between classes 
must grow organically. If it's organized from above, as 
often in Russia, the motive is manipulation. The transla- 
tion of "separate and equal" is "separate and luiequal." 
Autonomy of local groups sounds dandy luitil we translate 
it as "States' rights," the label for racist control of sup- 
pressed ethnic groups. Federal intervention in the South 
once appeared the helping hand of justice — until we saw 
that its purpose was building a united front at home to 
strengthen the hand of intervention overseas. Still, if 


States' rights people should take their slogans seriously, 
they'd build blacks and whites into a real regional 
community, using Confederate buttons for draft- 
resistance. The Southern Conference Educational Fund 
(SCEF) calls its paper, the most effective voice for justice 
there, The Southern Patriot. 

The State and its usurpations. From the city-state to 
now, political government has more and more englobed 
other forms of power — economic, military, police, commu- 
nications, knowledge, medical, service. The State that 
sums them up plays a double role. So far as men are exer- 
cising genuine professions, the State harmonizes them. But 
so far as profession and natural orders have been broken 
by pollution, war, and alienation, the damage is done 
through the impersonal institutions which make up the 
State. A social institution, without the individual's con- 
science, forgets its original purpose. Individuals at fault 
begin its corruption and assent to it; but the corrupted in- 
stitution has an inner demonic life of its own. 

Political groupings are the organization of people on 
the basis of power. As long as institutions are defined by 
self-interest, they will conflict. A just distribution of power 
seems on the level of power unrealizable. Centralized 
power converts autonomy into satellites. The British Em- 
pire looked like a self-liquidating imperialism — until we 
saw that its former control, like that of the French, was 
mostly taken over by the economic control of its daughter, 
the American Empire. Western imperialism has created 
around the world a bloc of oppressed nations. 

The best hope would seem to lie in a system of stable 
self-respecting states both protected and restrained by law. 


But success on one level precludes success on a more im- 
portant level. Our assimilation of white immigrants raised 
insurmountable barriers against the black. Our success in 
creating a zone of affluence here walls us off from the 
Third World — and our own dropout kids. Anything goes 
to defend that wall. 

The State is indispensable in maintaining certain 
kinds of organization, and any substitute will turn out to 
be the State again in a different form. But the disorder 
centered in its activities is so high today that it threatens 
to tear down the whole fabric of institutions built into it, 
through environmental decay, class or international war- 
fare, psychological collapse. And there isn't any merely po- 
litical organ inside the framework of the State which can 
effectively criticize or redirect its course. The dilemma of 
the State as a self-destructing artifact can only be solved by 
changing the terms of the problem. The escalation of tech- 
nology has made critical a need which always existed: an 
institution where people are organized on some basis other 
than power. A community. 

The Cry for Community 

As the State came into being regardless of the ap- 
proval or disapproval of individuals, it will also so con- 
tinue. Since it's the scene of the broad trend to violence, 
the form of authentic effort is searching for a place where 
that trend is reversed. This conclusion has either an anar- 
chist or a religious tonality; for it means that a fully com- 
mitted and realistic person can't make politics the heart of 
his struggle for justice. The center must be somewhere 


else. Since the State has a big power of persuasion to re- 
cruit well-meaning persons into its purposes, new commu- 
nity is ahvays built through a minority. When the major- 
ity come in, the community is already far on the way to 
fossil ization: Ave just hope that the seed of creative dissent 
is growing in it. 

The institutions which make up the State, even when 
functioning at their best, rest on coercion. The only 
grounds of unity remaining is voluntary membership. The 
State can claim our loyalty ^vhen on balance it's beneficent 
or neutral. \Vhen it threatens basic orders, in everybody's 
interest it must be resisted — in such a way that ne^v break- 
age doesn't occur. The strength and balance to do this 
can't come from an individual, much less from the State, 
but only from a voluntary community with roots in the 
past, reversing violence by reconciliation. 

Each profession and art — much more the State — has a 
built-in bias for itself. Beyond them all there is needed an 
institution whose only bias is humanity, organizing a 
broader base of people on a higher level — a tradition of 
commimity. Its history is a fourth level of order above bio- 
logical, social, and personal. 

The only person ^ve can trust is one who's reliably 
undertaken to make our interests his own, or to discuss 
conflict of interests before he acts. We can hire an em- 
ployee to do this only in certain areas. But a man knows 
when he comes home from work that the house will have 
been cleaned, the children's quarrels settled, dinner 
begun; a woman knows her husband will come home from 
work. So the only institution we can commit ourselves to 
without holding back is one Avhich asks us to subordinate 
our interests to other people — because we know it's mak- 


ing the same request of them. Only it can claim trust from 
outsiders or count on indefinite growth. Because it consid- 
ers its self-preservation secondary to the interests of outsid- 
ers; that is, it doesn't recognize the status of being outside. 
Only by pushing this single principle through to the end 
can it break out of the trap of becoming an immortal arti- 
ficial person without conscience. 

The Church as Inheritor of Community 

On the wrong side of the fabric of history, dark bru- 
tality is the solid weave, and the gold is meaningless loose 
ends. Mostly like any seamstress we've got to do grubby 
painstaking work on the back side of the goods. But every 
once in a while we must turn the cloth over to see where 
we're going. Then the intended pattern emerges, a purpos- 
iveness bigger than individuals. 

Like other natural growths, history on the planet has 
structure, grain. The growing edge of its development 
passed from the eastern Mediterranean through the 
Roman Empire to Europe. Along this axis, man's poten- 
tialities have been magnified both for good and for evil; 
the State, and the culture set inside it and against it, have 
achieved maximum development. Thus it was Europe (in 
part through her daughters, America and Russia) which 
introduced the rest of the world to the scientific method of 
achieving truth; but which also imposed its own culture 
and control on the other continents through political, reli- 
gious, economic imperialism. 

Being a free person in a free society means being a 
maker of images across time— symbolic forms defining our 


self-understanding and handed down through generations. 
In the Western tradition, free persons first appeared in the 
relatively democratic city-states of Greece and Israel, be- 
hind which no historic records were continuously pre- 
served. Both saw dimly, in prophecy and myth, that man 
was slated to pass beyond freedom to love. The New Tes- 
tament, drawing from both under the totalitarian Roman 
Empire, records the full realization of that possibility. 

Beside Oriental teachers of wisdom, the Hebrew 
prophets and Jesus are both more realistic about the 
world's injustice, and more concerned to reduce it through 
genuine community. But if they set the standard for a co- 
herent evolution, every society (like every individual) 
must have some intuitions of the same excellence. Even 
through the haze of Buddhist legend and our ignorance, 
we feel that Gautama illustrated in his society the same 
concern for individual integrity as Jesus in ours. 

The meeting of Western and Eastern spirituality is 
an easy hope; but such things don't happen without 
conflict and suffering. The place where Christianity and 
Buddhism are coming into actual contact is Viet Nam. Far 
beneath the war, two courtesies are meeting under secular 
disguise. The reality of their rapprochement is measured 
by the fidelity with which the best people of both sides 
hold to their commitments in the face of murder and be- 

The paradoxical institution, which grows by not hav- 
ing a self-interest, must in the end be called the Church, 
collecting the threads of the ancient world for us. Each of 
our life-stages gets its real meaning only through solidarity 
with the historical Jesus — now in the crisis of our revolu- 
tions more than ever before. The element of "apology" in 


this book, justification for fidelity to our tradition, is 
spread out through the chapters which follow. 

The Church's Case of Amnesia 

It was possible, and foreseen, that the Church would 
forget its purpose as universal institution. Like everything 
possible, it happened. In every other institution, power 
and self-interest are built in by definition. Therefore the 
Church, whose definition is to reject power and self- 
interest, is open to more complete exploitation than any 
other. Whenever it loses its character as community by be- 
coming coercive or violent, it takes on the same ambiguity 
as the State — that is, it becomes part of the State. The 
most obvious corruption is the take-over of the Church by 
segments of the State, which use its moral authority over 
individuals to further their purposes. 

The Established Church in America is uniquely vul- 
nerable to the application of its own principles; for 
through immigration it's become a mirror of the world 
scene. The perennial corruption of the Church has 
assumed definitive forms in America today: the heresy of 
idolatry, pinning our hope to an exploitative State; the 
schism of denominationalism which no longer believes 
even in its own alleged principles. So the conditions under 
which alone its message can actually be spoken or heard 
are renewal and reunion: radical nonviolence and radical 
ecumenism. The Reformation standard of a "standing or 
falling Church" — namely, the preaching of justification by 
faith alone — went back to Paul; nonviolence and unity 
would mean a penetration back to Jesus. 

The silence of the American Church in face of vi- 


olence is the other side of the Voice of America. What 
keeps the denominations separated and silent is the identi- 
cal moral rift which has opened up in each; are people 
willing to make excuses for murder or not? The theoreti- 
cal top-level ecumenism of the Consultation on Church 
Union (COCU) is seen to be irrelevant even by the grad- 
ualist liberals; and so they've directed their remaining 
moral concern into tentative urban reform — all that their 
constituencies will swallow. 

Each denomination played its role in creating the 
America Ave know — Massachusetts Congregationalism, the 
Established Church of the central states, Methodism and 
the sects of the frontier, the Catholicism of the immi- 
grants. As violence is destroying the American synthesis, 
the denominations, having served their function, are 
being melted down into something new. Our best model is 
still the new Church of South India, whose radical reun- 
ion sprang from the most deeply oppressed sector of the 
nation of nonviolence. 

At the base of the dying trunks of Church and State, 
beside the deadwood are springing the vigorous root- 
suckers of liberation and renewal. Nobody knows how 
long they'll be able to grow and organize, flowering 
from the perennial root, before the burden of power is 
laid on them. Now, while the world can't recognize them, 
are being deposited the first woody layers which will let 
them bear weight — and also determine their future shape. 
Today is the only day we can count on to build better safe- 
guards against injustice into new institutions. But if we 
have had to look for life elsewhere, so have millions of oth- 
ers. A generation of despair and hope must rewrite its con- 


The Restoration of Community: A New Covenant 

The Church would be useless to the State for 
take-over unless in some sense it is the Church, producing 
in each generation lives of saints. Mostly its actual work 
goes on outside the Church so labelled. It must recognize 
Marx as a prophet of justice, even though he failed to see 
the temptation of his socialism to fall into power-seeking. 
The apostles of nonviolence are precisely the Church of 
Jesus incognito. Whenever a person grasps the original 
principles of its founding, ripples spread out from him in- 
definitely far down to history afterwards. 

In spite of genocide against the red man, the black 
man, and the yellow man, America has been the refuge of 
Protestantism and protest. The moving frontier spread 
across the continent seeds of a genuinely new way, even 
though now heaped over with rubbish. Along the arrow's 
flight marked out by the Mayflower Compact, there's laid 
on us the duty to form a new covenant of humanity here, 
suitable for export. 

The cry for peace and liberation, even when self- 
centered, is the seed for renewal and reunion of the 
Church. The shoe is on the other foot; the existing de- 
nominations are to be seen as part of the Church of Jesus 
to the extent that they let the new wind blow through 
them. Pope John XXIII pointed to the unity of God's peo- 
ple; we can't see yet how far his church or others are 
willing to follow. The essential marks of the Church in- 
cognito are service to need, resistance to evil, openness to 
difference; in the end also it needs to take off its incognito 
and be seen for what it is. 


Our inner freedom and our biological nature are 
partners, mutually raising each other up. Our first act of 
restoration for the planetary environment will remove 
inner psychological blockages, and help us work towards 
further restoration. The same mutuality exists between 
the individual and the community. Each person is 
conscious in his personal inadequacy, the weakness of his 
left hand, of needing to rely on the community which his 
right hand is planting and watering. 

Church history thinks to set us the dilemma of choos- 
ing between the separated sect set over against the faults of 
society, and the universal Church identified with them. 
But what we see springing up in the actual present is a 
Church scattered through all countries; universal and rad- 
ical; Catholic and therefore set over against each society it 
finds itself in. Our membership in that Church — our ad- 
herence to the revolution — revives the Stoic dream, first 
seen under Alexander's universal empire, of becoming cit- 
izens of the planet at large. By that membership, distrust is 
actually beginning to break down. Over against the ma- 
nipulated United Nations Organization, there is growing 
up a counter-community, an United People's Organiza- 

We must insist on a community universal in space and 
time — a rising bread in all lands leading back to the past 
of each society's original self-awareness. And in fact the 
golden sunflower of our inner awareness begins to turn its 
face upwards. The great religions interlock. From Bud- 
dhist India came the nard with which the Messiah was 
anointed, the jewels in the better world of Isaiah and Plato 
and John. The cult of the hibernating and resurrected 
bear, our brother who tastes the honeycomb, was brought 
by the Pennsylvania Germans (and attached to the wood- 


chuck) in an America where bear-totems had crossed the 
Bering Straits. 

Somewhere within the movements of our time, re- 
veille is being sounded for a new level of humanity — new, 
but also the realization on global scale of an old level. 
Over against the Communist Manifesto, which sets 
mankind at war with itself, another trumpet calls out that 
the enemy is within all and external to all: "Peoples of the 
world, unite." It can't be done in the frame^\'ork of busi- 
ness as usual, golf as usual, church as usual, draft as usual, 
school as usual. Lifelong commitment, resistance, persecu- 
tion, comradeship are in the cards — as we were told from 
the beginning. 

^ ' 

chapter THREE 

Inner Revolution: 
Renewal of 

Even after we trace out each root of a man or 
woman in the soil of biology, each tendril in 
the woodland of society, we haven't touched the person's 
center. How shall we think about the power by which we 
become aware of our niche in space and time, and to that 
extent escape it; aware of our faults, and are so far lib- 
erated from them? 

Our Freedom as Linkage Between 
Nature and History 

Man perfects the tendency of the universe to turn 
things inside out. To grasp his inner space we must start 
from an overview of the outer space he organizes — for ex- 
ample, sitting here on the yellowing spring grass of the 
Berkeley hills on a windy afternoon, looking down over 
the University, and west across the Bay to the Golden Gate 
Bridge. Hidden behind Mount Tamalpais is the valley of 
fog that waters the Muir redwood forest. I could about sail 


a paper airplane onto the roof of Cal library, with its ex- 
cellent classical and Semitic collections. Behind me, on the 
other side of a fence which forbids loitering in the name 
of the Regents, is the cyclotron; they are discovering 
things about the elementary particles we should be let in 
on. South across the Bay the smoky trail of a jet is taking 
off over the white buildings of the city to Hawaii, Tokyo, 

Every square foot has human fingerprints on it — a 
double set. On one hand, adaptation of the environment 
for knowledge and use, as in the elegant catenary of the 
bridge, imposing significance on its cliffs like a Greek tem- 
ple. On the other hand, deterioration. Old accounts 
describe a crown of redwoods around this bowl of earth 
and water, now replaced with weedy Australian eucalyp- 
tus. The garbage dump in the Bay has grown, balancing 
the unsightly rectangle of Treasure Island naval base. A 
big tin can sitting on the Richmond hills undoes the ^\ ork 
of the bridge. Choking white feathers sprout from the fac- 
tory chimneys of Oakland and West Berkeley; around 
them huddle the two-bedroom stucco manors of the 
ghetto, cramped in by the polluted bayshore and the ele- 
vated transit tracks. Smoke trails up from a thousand 
cookout campfires of the white occupying force in the 
hills. Two freighters are putting out to sea from Port Chi- 
cago and Alameda, I suppose carrying materiel to Cam 
Ranh Bay. 

This network of information and control and destruc- 
tion, the product of only a hundred years, is the outer 
shell of the elastic elusive thing we're trying to grasp — the 
collective and individual freedom at the nodes of the net- 
work, sprawling over space and time, turning inwards in 
knowledge and blindness. Just out of sight are Sproul Hall 


steps, where a revolutionary government one day may set 
a plaque marking Mario Savio's place in the Free Speech 
Movement of 1965. Somewhere in the preternatural smog 
overlaying Oakland, the all-American city, is the Induc- 
tion Center where so many of my friends were busted in 
fall of 1967 — to exchange Johnson for Nixon. It would 
seem as if the use and abuse of freedom were inseparable, 
two faces of Janus, two sides of a coin. But something in us 
cries out that the coin is only sandwich-silver, there must 
be a way to split its halves. 

A week after I made those notes. Sheriff Frank Madi- 
gan's blue-coveralled deputies w^ere running amok 
through the streets shooting hippies. Brigadier General 
Bernard Nurre called down a helicopter strike on students 
and bystanders with lingering CS — riot-control canisters 
diverted from Saigon. And in this early spring of 1970 ev- 
erything is closer together; the cushions between motive 
and act, act and result have been taken away. We say to 
our brother "thou fool" and we become in fact his mur- 
derer. Technology instantly translates our disrespect for 
nature into w^asteland. There aren't any wilderness areas 
or passive societies w^hich can simply absorb our hatred. 
By the same token, a blow aimed at our brother strikes us. 
The mass media impartially record both the violence done 
to exploited populations, biological or social, and the ex- 
cuses by W'hich we explain it away. 

We're faced with the primordial riddle that good and 
evil are brothers. A riddle is a description of something fa- 
miliar, so accurate that it becomes strange again: 

As round as an apple 

As deep as a cup 

And all the king's horses 

Cannot pull it up. 


But even when we realize the answer, it doesn't explain 
how a well gets water at the bottom. And what is the water 
at the bottom of ourselves? Man is a walking riddle, a 
flesh-and-blood contradiction. But we can only see this be- 
cause we already had the idea of a radical consistency. 

We didn't invent our standards of excellence, or the 
severity of the judgments that get passed; we inherited 
them from Greek tragedy, Hebrew prophecy. The Bud- 
dhist world will find them in its own past. Those first 
seers didn't invent them either; by fresh insight they saw 
historical laws operating, in their present or the future. 
Until recently, retribution was delayed long enough so 
that men could think of the standards as merely ideal, the 
judgments as only symbolic. Today both the visionary and 
everyman have adequate ground to fear the judgment of 
God as the billy clubs fall on the skulls, as the fish die in 
the polluted Bay. But if everything that can happen will 
happen, then we must also reckon on the sanctifying grace 
of God as a daily possibility. Of course, when we see the 
wagon-track dipping down into the flooded streambed, we 
look around for every other possible route first. Salvation 
is the last resort. 

Of all the failures the University can be charged with, 
the chief is seldom made, especially by revolutionaries. It 
gives very few of its students a foothold in their own past 
— the classical and Hebrew world. Better translations from 
Greek are available than ever before, but students don't 
treat them as seriously as translations from Sanskrit or 
Chinese — languages we knoiv we won't learn. Young peo- 
ple who do feel the imique value of these texts are 
shunted into minute pedantic studies. Where is the man 
to whom Achilles or Jeremiah is the model for his own 


Our incautious extensions drag us down. The down- 
payment on a house, job-offers, the threat of conscription, 
the fear of failure, our first success, channel us in im- 
proper directions. Through passive assent to the manage- 
ment of society by the mass media, creativity withers. Ho- 
mogenization denatures protest into stylish marketable 
consumer-products; hippy ateliers mass-produce peace 
symbols for New York tourists. "Revolutionary work" 
means running the mimeograph in a scrubby office — a 
faithful caricature of the business world. If idealism at- 
tracts us into the life of service, we see that the only slots 
available — as social workers, clergy, teachers — are con- 
stantly liable to takeover by malfunctioning institutions 
for their preservation. 

The American businessman puts eighteen hours a day 
into making himself invulnerable: work and play, office 
and home, ruthlessness and charity, all fits together. On 
the other side we're reproached by the voluntary hardships 
of a Che Guevara to make himself a true revolutionary, 
"the highest type of human being." What can we put be- 
side all this single-mindedness? We all know that each step 
in our past could have been firmer, without our typical in- 
attention, conflict of motives, shortcuts, laziness, tendency 
to self-defeat. But how do we know this? Above all from 
the examples of those who've done better: saints. 

The Restoration of Humanity: 
A New Commitment 

It's hard to see how past excellences could be im- 
proved on — sculpture, architecture, painting, polyphonic 
music, tragedy. That is, they can't even be equalled, since 


doing the same thing over again is no equality. The radi- 
cal potentiality of the future is actual novelties of human 
character, with growing real influence on the world. A 
manipulative society wants us to believe that any reputa- 
tion for consistency must be the result of a public relations 
campaign. But the saint, even more than the philosopher 
or scientist, has a genealogy; he's reproducing, with appro- 
priate variations, a type of character long ago invented. 
Some like Pope John have acquired wholeness by a child- 
like freedom from certain knowledge and doubts; others 
by feeding on them. The very existence of a post called 
Secretary General of the United Nations created a new 
character: judge among the Great Powers, servant of the 
human race. We come to see people as belonging to "our" 
society just so far as we actually stand beside them; the cit- 
izenship rolls of community cut across all boundaries, lan- 
guages, centuries. 

It would seem as if in so bureaucratic a society, where 
information is thought the uniquely scarce item, change 
must be a committee product. But a committee can't come 
up with the life-style, or the use of words, which move 
men to new action. What Herbert Marcuse calls the "re- 
pressive tolerance" of the system is a careful screening out 
of all the signals from the past, from nature, from over- 
seas, from the inner world, which would question the 
glossy finish. The moon-landing and war-reportage were 
packaged for unreality, complete with ads, to resemble 
Saturday morning comics. But in unpredictable moments 
of sanity the truth breaks through. The isolated prophet, 
filtering out of the information-Niagara precisely the criti- 
cal items, once again puts together the figure of an actual 
human being. 


The message going out across the oceans is that the 
need for integrity has given birth to integrity. A new sanc- 
tity has been bom. A center of consistency in the sloshing 
tides; actual working energies directed to the rebuilding 
of nature and community, starting with ourselves. 

The dogma that character must always be ambiguous 
came from the effort to maintain a fictitious private moral- 
ity inside a manipulative mass society. But when the easy 
career ladder has been cut off, not by our choice but socie- 
ty's, the traps are no longer hidden. We may still exploit 
the revolution as a field of academic study, or as an excuse 
to lapse into old violence for a new cause. We may get too 
far ahead, lose the way, and retreat into conformity or fall 
casualty. But there's a position of dynamic equilibrium 
where the pulls from all those directions cancel each other 
out. We'd always been told that sanctity was forced on us, 
not chosen. Now we see that the whole breaking wave of 
history demands that balance from us — and makes it possi- 

Men assume that moral action involves a choice be- 
tween existing alternatives — that is, between two evils. 
But each dilemma should bring out the courage and 
creativity to invent an original alternative, to put the dis- 
cussion on a new plane. We can't look for this to func- 
tionaries who haven't yet seen the situation on this de- 
nuded, colonialized, disoriented planet — much less the 
possibility of making their own creative response, again 
and again. The field is wide open. Nobody has thought to 
train for the marathon, and we incompetents who hap- 
pened by are told by the judge to put on track shoes and 
wait for the pistol. 

If this book differs from manuals of ethics, it's be- 


cause no provisions for a double standard are laid down. 
Actually "ethics" or its translation "morality" is the wrong 
thing to be talking about, because both mean "habit." 
And we must break through both old habits and the habit 
of habit, to look at things always freshly. The excellence of 
the saint looks like habit to the outsider; but as the man 
or woman sees it, every time you wake up the same strug- 
gle must be gone through. 

Traditional ethics assumed we already had a frame of 
reference — a profession, a bank account, a social status — 
and asked us to balance threats to that status against the 
demands of morality. But this meant that, long before it 
caught its moral man, he'd already made his basic choice 
— perhaps not quite beyond reach of revision. We have to 
start farther back and take up the burden of choosing, not 
our actions, but ourselves. We're not to work by a set of 
rules, but by a vision of the character which is the true 
center of renewal. And we're not faced with a variety of 
situations which may, or may not, alter rules; the situation 
is a global fact. The correct thing doesn't run at right 
angles to our interests, so that compromise or renuncia- 
tion is called for; we're asked to step through a false con- 
sciousness to recognition of our real long'-term interests — 
and those of the planet, and of our great-grandchildren 
crying out to remember them. We're not up against a 
conflict of interests but a question of fact: which things 
build true order and which don't? 

When one man blows the trumpet, that's ego-grati- 
fication; however ingenious his publicity, what he be- 
gins will eventually die. We recognize the right time to 
follow when the signal is given not by man but by God — 
that is, by a turn of events which no individual began. 
Our wounds are the clearest sign. We can be sure that oth- 


ers will have felt what has scarred us so deeply, our train- 
ing and talents weren't all that special. Of course some of 
them are trying to choke down that awareness. Since we 
don't want to despair of them, we have to say that a de- 
monic smog has distorted their vision; dispelling it is our 

The cry to demythologize old symbolism was un- 
timely. "Whenever," a theologian asked, "do we read in 
the daily papers that angels or demons are the immediate 
cause of historical events?" Daily. We can't simply con- 
demn as unredeemable our brothers who've been re- 
cruited into violent institutions; nor give saints of our age 
the personal credit we know they'll refuse. To pass beyond 
condemnation and hero-worship is to see history as the 
battlefield of more-than-human insurgencies of good and 

Older classics of spirituality show a thoroughly indi- 
vidual trip into inner space: Pascal's Pensees, the Imita- 
tion of Christ. Inner life in our time is blossoming in the 
common tasks of world renewal, as with a Bonhoeffer, a 
Hammarskjold. The earthscape against which our work 
must be done looms clearer — above all through the vision 
of the Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. The most ur- 
gent call to our following is sent out by another student of 
Ignatius Loyola, my friend and brother Daniel Berrigan, 
designing a brand-new spirituality through his loving bat- 
tle against his State and Order. 

The years which turn institutions once fresh into 
brittle caricatures of themselves are also the golden bowl 
to be filled with the water of life. Ignoring the 
pseudo-events by which the media distract us from reali- 
ties, we make current needs so vivid that even our sloth 
can't ignore them. Refusing all Novocaine to deaden the 


days of our felon's sentence, we methodically build time. 
Under the spring sunshine of our careful attention, dor- 
mant branches bear sap. As we become aware of our soli- 
darity with men and women in other times and situations, 
we slough off crippling limits; the skeleton, musculature, 
nervous system of an eternal community of love take 
shape. It spontaneously moves over to make room for us; 
Homer is modified by Shakespeare, and our gentleness 
makes up (we're told) what was defective in the sufferings 
of the founder. In the dark valley of our conformism and 
folly, as our eyes get used to looking, on every slope we see 
the fireflies of original lives lighting up. The galaxies of a 
new universe are being born. 

The Stages of Our Liberation 

By reversing the corruption of the elements of our 
life we turn back the chain of radioactive decay, and trans- 
mute our lead into light-giving uranium again. As the 
place where nature and history intersect, we are not so 
much to begin as to become the reconstruction of biologi- 
cal and social order. In the first place this involves a recon- 
struction of the Church. In her unique sacramental 
relation to the biological order, she can initiate a global 
reversal of violence; also she is the most effective lever to 
budge the other institutions of our society. 

Any scheme of parcelling out our life will do which 
lets us get quickly down to work on its actual texture — the 
cloth where actual reweaving is done. The planetary de- 
mand for life will analyze itself in accordance with what- 
ever divisions we adopt. Here I modify the Catholic 
scheme of seven sacraments, which form the necessary link 


between nature (in their concrete biological symbolism) 
and society (in their liturgical format and historic origins). 
Shakespeare's seven ages include items that the Church 
misses — vocation and the realm of the State, the pot- 
bellied justice and bearded soldier. I'm also influenced by 
Erik Erikson's scheme of eight stages of development; if 
each faculty isn't developed at its own right time, the per- 
son is permanently stunted. But I begin where he starts to 
end — at late puberty, when the individual for better or 
worse makes his own decisions, on the basis of equipment 
built into him through the family. 

On the fixed biological groundbass of birth, sexual- 
ity, and death, a force going beyond nature and history is 
building each turning-point of our lives into a revolution- 
ary sanctity. Our beginning is to formulate clearly the de- 
mands made by each period of life in the permanent new 

The demand for fidelity: a fresh start. As each indi- 
vidual in his birth repeats the birth of the species, by a 
symbolic rebirth he must take on the fidelity called for by 
history — from now on, a commitment to nonviolence. 

The demand for love: sexuality. As sexuality con- 
tinues the species, each person, through marriage or other- 
wise, takes on the job of building a few others into the 
most permanent possible example of stable community. 

The demand for usefulness: vocation. As each person 
channels sexuality into creativity, we must redesign old vo- 
cations and invent new ones to push through the necessary 
tasks of the revolution. 


The demand for justice: the problem of power. Ag- 
gression organizes people in a society of coercion, the State. 
Over against that imperfect justice, the individual must 
give a higher commitment to the principle of community 
through voluntary assent. 

The demand to help: service. The most expensive 
form of community is availability to the needs of others. 
This universal ordination to human service, a waiting on 
table, is the most basic novelty of the New Testament. 

The demand for hope: falling casualty. At another 
stage the tables are turned, and the waiter must be waited 
on. Our conduct when in casualty status measures the gen- 
uineness of that community which we claim is constituted 
by failure. 

The demand for joy: the feast. Both the individual 
body and the body of the community are maintained and 
built up by the act of assimilation. In the context of the 
festival, all our phases and roles are celebrated in their 
final definition. 

The Source of Renewal 

Our individuality is marked off by our intersection 
with every other individual we've met or read about in 
books; we're a child of the actual community of the 
human race. So the renewal of the Chinch goes recipro- 
cally with individual renewal; both the creativity and the 
flaw of man's freedom go deeper than any individual. 


Where does the cry for justice come from, the scattered 
groping actions for new life? How can it be explained that 
where violence cut deepest, the indestructible urge to de- 
cency reappears? that the revolution breeds critics of revo- 
lutionary counter-violence? Somehow we must say that 
men are constantly touched, if they're willing, by a stand- 
ard of truth which goes beyond both the exploitation they 
resist, and the failings of the resistance; it's not bound up 
with any one class, cause, society. Since time along with 
space is one of the things that emerged in cosmic evolu- 
tion, the permanent possibility of new life is deeper rooted 
than the time and place where we first meet it. Our more 
than globular universe can only be moved by a lever rest- 
ing on some pivot outside it. And we don't reach the bot- 
tom of any historical movement until we see it in cosmic 
terms. Myth-making man, not knowing so much of either 
history or science as we do, has the advantage that he can 
seize both together in one hand. Our liberal education 
consists in following the clue of his language to express 
that fact beyond facts. In the end, to label the revolution- 
ary who again and again subverts history into love, we 
haven't got any choice but to apply the old names of God 
to that Archimedes, who, from his fulcrum underneath the 
cosmic manifold, with infinite gentleness guides it into new 

Since most people at most times can't push analysis of 
history to the end, we must leave a lot of room for coali- 
tion with all those who, for excellent reasons, can't claim 
they're working in the name of God. But, although that 
claim is of course constantly being perverted, failure to 
make it in some language will in the long run lead people 
to find a different God. We have to agree that God is a 


jealous God, if you don't end up with him you end up 
somewhere else. 

When a new idea has been thought of, it's repeated a 
hundred times over. One civil rights demonstration, one 
national liberation front, one peace march, one ghetto re- 
bellion, one student take-over, one demand for reparations 
produces an indefinite number of others. All the more 
then we should be looking, both in the daily papers and in 
our hearts, to see where and how somebody first makes the 
decisive breakthrough out of the delusional systems which 
have imprisoned us for so long. A new infusion of life 
across continents was implicit in the moment in the chapel 
when John Wesley felt his heart strangely warmed. 

It's easy to be diverted into doing something less than 
is indicated. The highest threshold to be gotten over lies 
in front of the door of life. It takes a man or woman of ex- 
ceptional simplicity to go right up to it without being dis- 
tracted. That consistency doesn't happen all of a sudden, 
it lies at the end of a long road of self-purification. And 
when we get there, we see that this end is only a begin- 
ning. The revolutionary fresh start required of us is the 
common sense to begin at the beginning. 

part 1 1 : The Demands of 
Our New Life 

chapter FOUR 

The Demand for Fidelity: 
Going Through 
the Waters 

Most people never quite finish being born, we're 
tied by an umbilical cord to stepmotherly in- 
stitutions. When this girl on our street first went off to 
school, she knew a string was tied between her and the 
back doorknob, which got looped around blocks if she 
didn't come back the way she went. We can all learn from 
the tadpole, who after the bother of learning to swim opts 
for a new environment. 

The normal case of a fresh start is with the young per- 
son just waked up from the impression that the policeman 
and postman are towers of morality. During the sixties, in 
that overlap period when residual childhood freshness 
sensitizes the dawning moral judgment, the prevalence of 
poisoning, murder, and intimidation stamped itself forci- 
bly on him. Late maturing is always possible. Still, if 
middle-aged people during the Johnson years could read 
the morning body-count and not get sick over their fried 
eggs, what will they gag on? 


Diagnosis of Complicity by the Young 

The young protest first what hits them directly, com- 
puterization: being put on a punch card, segregated into 
dorms, destined for social security, pre-enrolled for Fresh- 
man Comp, conscripted by aging realtors. Concerned par- 
ents ask: How do I get my child off drugs, off the street, 
into a proper marriage, into a real vocation? The pre- 
liminary answer is always: Stop the war and the draft. 
That would only be a first step: it's necessary also to 
change the habits and institutions which made the war 
and the draft. But for the kids, the draft is conclusive 
proof what old people are about. If they join the National 
Guard to avoid shooting local patriots overseas, they're 
dispatched to shoot high-school buddies or put a bayonet 
into the blouses of their old dates. 

A parent who still sends out remittances won't be- 
lieve that the young are an oppressed class. But they've 
burned their bridges, and the long hair unacceptable in 
Peoria or Houston is only a sign of that break. Frank Mad- 
igan, the sheriff of Alameda County, explained that 
many of his deputies were newly discharged veterans, and 
so of course treated demonstrators as Viet Cong. Integra- 
tion has finally worked. Since the children of the ghetto 
couldn't be brought up to suburban level, the children of 
the suburb went spontaneously down to theirs — instant 

A gypsy generation rediscovering play can't take on 
joyless adult make-believe. The substitute society they've 
patched up seems in its least common denominator 


impoverished enough: sleeping around, living off the 
street, smoking grass, wearing long hair and freaky clothes, 
improvising Oriental mysticism, listening to rock bands. If 
they still insist on preferring it, their judgment on grown- 
up culture is all the more persuasive. 

The white dropout ghetto, though its criticisms are 
just, is no Messianic community; it's still a Coney Island 
mirror of middle-class society. It's moved beyond the 
mind-expanding drugs, which short-circuit the neural 
tracks (probably with premature aging) back to the old 
pills that Mom drops up in the tiled bathroom on Magno- 
lia Drive: uppers (amphetamines) for acceleration to 
public speed, downers (barbiturates) for slowdown to pri- 
vate sleep. Its promiscuity reflects the serial polygamy back 
on the hill, which in turn is the other face of Puritanism. 
Its dirt on the outside of hopefully beautiful personalities 
is intended as a turning inside out of suburban hypocrisy. 
Its lack of planning reflects the improvisation of bourgeois 
culture, the pyramiding of credit. The suburb refuses to 
see future collapse. The dropout world refuses to see any 
future at all — it's reverted to the expectations of the 
world's end in primitive Christianity. "They were saying 
on the street in L.A. there's going to be this big earth- 
quake when the pigs come on heavy next month, and my 
mind was blown because I'm Aquarian, so man I split." 

While little kids are being given Social Security num- 
bers, and pedestrians licensed by the Motor Vehicle 
Bureau, in reaction a voluntary proletariat is being born. 
All ragamuffin seventh graders look like hippies; but when 
we see their folks driving an old Ford truck to the PTA 
from an out-of-town commune in their beads and bare feet 
— or delivering our mail — we realize the computer may 


not win after all. The other day this dropout I know deliv- 
ered his girl friend's little boy baby (uncertain whether it 
was his own) and cut the cord; no father, no birth certifi- 
cate, no census report, no draft card; just a baby. 

Washing Off Our Brother's Blood 

If in our own way we try to grasp the interior of com- 
plicity, we move back through our nerves into our spinal 
cord, out into tendons, muscles, bones. The circuitry of 
our brain is jammed on Nixon's the one and rather 
fighting than switching. The base of our spine aches from 
the waiting benches at Welfare. We feel the itch of a fun- 
gus infection in our crotch from the garbage-teeming 
shores; leukemia spreads in our radioactive marrow; our 
toes tread the pools of resin from the felled redwood. In 
our nostrils is the smell of burned flesh. Our lack of pig- 
mentation shrinks us back into the shade like a pulled 

And there is dirt on our hands, I look at my own 
alleged priest's hands: the feel under our fingers of the na- 
palm burns, scars from fragmentation pellets and buck- 
shot, Che's blood in Bolivia, blood from the streets of 
Selma and Newark and Chicago and Berkeley. The word 
we ask to be told is. Wash off your brother's blood. We 
keep bugging our kids to wash their little hands. We 
dream of the tsunami wave sweeping away the mess we've 
made of our families and jobs. We take long showers. In 
the interior seascape of our guilty heart, the beach girl in 
her scraps of cloth slouches beside the prophet in his 
camel's-hair, both pointing back to childhood waters. 


In our lack of a collective myth, we Americans can 
only turn back to the private myth of our childhood. 
Nothing since then has gone so well as the summer vaca- 
tions in the cottage with faded shingles by the shore. 
Going off to college, getting married, changing jobs, 
sending kids to high school all seem temporary detours, 
after which we'll go back to the beach and everything will 
be as it was. Each of us is Huck Finn, sneaking out in the 
twilight to a rowboat tied up under giant willows. Our 
childhood memory-bank is all plugged in to our appropri- 
ation, or rape, of the virgin country. 

We must find a way to cut moral losses, not throw 
good time after bad. A fresh start would not only renew 
the soil that the blossom of the future grows from; it alters 
the judgments we apply to the past. Every action carries 
two possibilities: being whittled away to nothing, and 
being built on. In prophetic justice we look to our chil- 
dren for wisdom; the times they are rapidly changing. The 
stable end-product of nostalgia can be repentance. 

Our century, ^vhich has gone right and wrong in so 
many new ways, has made a great thing of fooling around 
on beaches. Before us I can only think of Xenophon's ma- 
rines swimming bare-ass off their sea bivouac. The knotted 
bikini, named fantastically after our greatest guilt, is fetish 
for our compulsion to go back to the fig leaves of Eden 
and the great waters. Our associations with water are a pri- 
mordial complex: return to play, return to the womb, evo- 
lution, getting clean, nakedness and procreation, submis- 
sion to death, washing off the death of guilt, drowning, 
return to the surface in the seafoam of resurrection. John 
Wheelwright summarizes in his elegy ('Tish Food") for 
Hart Crane, suicide by drowning: 


The sea's teats have suckled you, and you are sunk far 
in bubble-dreams, under swaying translucent vines 
of thundering interior wonder , . . 

No images will undercut these. We can only go back be- 
hind Cain and Abel by washing off our brother's blood. 

Making a fresh start isn't rejecting sin and guilt (not 
in our power) but accepting the burden of guilt. When 
faced by the United Fruit Company, Dow Chemical, the 
chainsaw in the redwood forest, Forest Lawn, the Central 
Intelligence Agency, the RAND Corporation, the Oak- 
land Housing Authority, Richard Daley's bullies, the 
John Birch Society, our cue is to say, "There by the grace 
of God go I." Our only strength is the forgiveness in 
which we embrace a President or Presidium as brothers, 
recognizing no hatred or violence of theirs as alien to us — 
and at the same time resisting to the death the dark pow- 
ers which have colonized them. 

The Condition of Our Fresh Start: 
Refusal of Conscription 

The planetary strike invades our split-level bedrooms 
in the dropping out of their children, which, even at its 
least responsible, reflects a non-negotiahle demand for 
fidelity. Since fidelity only settles into a consistent state 
over years, our beginning is just the initial condition of 
new life. Even though children of Quaker or revolution- 
ary families may never undergo a crisis of redirection, and 
even though older people may also take the new route, the 
situation of the young determines the moral condition of 
our fresh start. Young men from eighteen to twenty-six. 


the type of heroic humanity in Greek art, have become 
once again our moral leaders. 

The modern State can't allow the precedent of letting 
citizens drop out unpunished; it has to keep up pressure 
for conformity in some area. Precisely that area must be 
the scene of our fresh start. A modern reader of George 
Fox's Journals is puzzled that his confrontation with Es- 
tablishment came on the issues of wearing his hat in court 
and not taking an oath. But Caesar's illegitimate claims 
were only symbolic in those simple days. The pressure for 
religious conformity wasn't burdensome; even Fox 
couldn't perceive the error of slavery; he needed to offer 
his cheeks and back only to the violence of individuals. 
The American State applies greatest pressure, by prison 
and loss of civil rights, in the area of conscription, forced 
by its own imperial logic to provide the peace movement 
with a permanent organizing issue. Repeal would destroy 
U.S. foreign policy by opening the door to a massive anti- 
recruitment campaign. Nixon's campaign promise to end 
the draft will turn out to be a facade for continuing it — 
perhaps within a more widespread regimentation into 
Youth Service. Here young men, led by Fox's Friends, in- 
evitably made their stand. In any foreseeable future here, 
the regular moral demand of a fresh start is refusal of con- 

It might seem as if nonviolence were a functional spe- 
cialization; we need some people to fight wars, others to 
protest them. It's true that a society needs garbage- 
collectors — but only a certain number. But there's no ra- 
tional way of determining how many soldiers we need; the 
threat felt from a foreign power varies in proportion to 
the effort deployed to meet it. The maintenance of armies 


by males presumes women and old people incapable of 
forming rational judgments about their own interests. 

In a society where not all are fearful and not all cou- 
rageous, the initial task is not to abolish the military, but 
to reduce its level by subtracting oneself and others from 
it. If nobody volunteered, the country already would be 
invulnerable. And the refuser committed to the lifetime 
risk of peace-making isn't taking any easy way out. All 
countries are now so interlocking, that a general fear-level 
exists; my decision to spend time reconciling rather than 
fighting reduces it, so that afterwards all parties are more 
secure than before. The strength of our pullout lies in the 
Establishment's guilty awareness of its own contradictions; 
it hires moralists to reduce the violence-level at home, and 
imprisons them for reducing it abroad. The young men's 
unanswerable ultimatum is: we resist the draft in the 
name of nonviolence, or in the name of violence we join 
the revolution. 

Does this necessary form of our fresh start have any 
relevance for oppressed communities — Latin Americans, 
blacks, Asians? Their obvious loyalty is identification with 
their own revolution; how could they go beyond it? After 
the death of Kins;, the black nonviolent movement here is 
in full disarray. The best Latin Americans seem united be- 
hind revolution, as violent as needs be. Nonviolent resis- 
tance is having its biggest success in Czechoslovakia; but 
their special situation and national character seem irrele- 
vant elsewhere. 

This analysis, apparently discouraging, can be put in 
a sensational way: America is the vanguard. Just as our 
leaders claim, but in a slightly different way, our combina- 
tion of residual freedoms with global power opens the 


chance for us to become leaders of humanity. Our young 
people have a unique universal vocation: separating them- 
selves so clearly from exploitation that other youth around 
the world will have to follow their lead. They're a poten- 
tial elite. It needs a crystal-clear ideology, a flexible but re- 
liable organization, and an absolute commitment to the 
inner revolution of integrity. 

As isolated examples of what could be done by mil- 
lions, I think of Maximilianus, the African resister of a.d. 
295, "I am not permitted to fight"; of Franz Jagerstatter, 
the Austrian Catholic peasant, lacking a single sympa- 
thetic soul beside him, who refused induction into Hitler's 
armies. I see a boy with long hair as one who won't have a 
regimented haircut. With gratitude I think of those now 
in prison whom I can't judge by any standard of morality, 
because in their quiet constancy they've become the stand- 
ard I judge myself by. 

The Resistance program succeeded beyond its 
dreams. As the actual organization melted into the land- 
scape, largely through jail, thousands of young men (no 
doubt many with mixed motives) are simply not showing 
for induction or are refusing. The courts only prosecute a 
small percentage of cases at random, and even so are hope- 
lessly behind. It's scary to see a breakdown of authority, 
because you don't know where it will end. Authority with 
all its task forces should have thought of that first. For all 
parties, amnesty alone — which we may well not get — 
could patch things up even for the time being. 

Since our nation was populated in part by refugees 
from European conscription, we can hardly criticize men 
who take refuge in Canada or Sweden, or parents with 
young children who emigrate — even though we may regret 
their abandoning the most effective scene of action. Much 


less could any white man ask black youth to risk a Federal 
jail, lacking the verbal skills and social influence to have 
any hope of conscientious-objector status. As they melt 
back into the ghetto they join the global strike. 

From one point of view, the authenticity of any act is 
only decided at the end of our life: how effectively did it 
mo\'e us to\vards a new way? From another point of view, 
the critical duty in the present has been to arrest our State 
in its criminally insane course of murdering a lovely peo- 
ple dedicated to its oAvn culture. But — as that people also 
understands in its objectivity — compromise or untruthful- 
ness now in the anti-war movement means a succession of 
new^ victims in the decades ahead. 

The Original Discovery of the Fresh Start 

Since we're faced with a planetary destruction of 
order, our individual fresh start is only made fully effec- 
tive when built into a renewed planetary community. A 
community withers without roots in the past. To find com- 
mon ground with our cultural cousins around the globe, 
we must dig back to the point where our roots interlace 
with theirs. You'd think Buddhists might look to the 
illumination of Gautama under the bo-tree; actually the 
Buddhists I know who take justice and ecology most seri- 
ously have moved three-quarters of the way over, they've 
gone Marxist. The Western book which underlies Marx- 
ism and all other social change presupposes a fresh start: 
metanoia, "conversion," a complete turnabout of our will 
and emotions which focusses them onto the single right 

Shovelling off the alluvial deposits of magic, misun- 


derstanding, compromise in century after century of eccle- 
siastical history, we dig underneath the dried riverbed to 
the perpetual undergound stream of mountain water. The 
original living cell of community, the little group of Jesus 
and his associates, crystallized around the fanatic preacher 
standing beside the waters. Jesus alone saw the meaning of 
what the baptizer was doing, and "was made sin for us," 
declaring his solidarity with Herod and Hitler. The rec- 
ords normally see the action as a mode of dying: "I have a 
baptism to be baptized with"; "as we are buried with him 
by baptism into death." 

The Hebrews, like Thales the pre-Socratic, started 
from the swamp-cosmology of Sumeria. They saw it as re- 
enacted at every crisis, mythical or historical: creation, 
flood, crossing the Red Sea, crossing Jordan, return from 
exile. Each time there rises up wet and sleek from those 
waters a living community. Jesus' words and life define 
that emergence as a naturalization into the one fully legiti- 
mate commonwealth, a new community where the only 
sanction is love. His nonviolence in our world of technol- 
ogy run wild has become both necessary and possible for 
survival. As criticism discovers the uncertain areas of his 
biography, we move into the area where the documents 
allow no room for doubt — a new level of truth which their 
novel technique was specifically designed to record. 

Jesus is unmarried; and dissociates himself from the 
self-punishment of John. He is a man of learning; and re- 
fuses the teacher's privileges. He is a popular leader; and 
rejects the compromises of realistic politics. He has deep 
psychological powers; and puts away from himself the role 
of wonderworker. He has unmeasured influence over his 
friends; and weans them away from him, refusing the la- 


bels by which they try to fix him. He believes in a power 
for which all things are possible; and regrets the sparrow's 
fall. He foretells war in which society and nature will per- 
ish; and rejects participation in the most just self-defense. 
He will not exploit the animal or vegetable realm; or do 
stones the violence of making them bread against their na- 
ture. He sets himself against imperial oppression of the 
poor; and also against counter-violence in their just strug- 
gle. By his example he puts maximum pressure on the 
others to follow; and refrains from all other pressure. 

Every wave of exploitation beats against him and is 
dissipated into foam, because there's no part of him it can 
claim. He has passed through to the other side of death. 
Our only possible fresh start is identification with the prin- 
ciple he represents. That means entering the stream of his- 
tory which flows from him. Baptism is the permanently 
valid symbolic act by which we receive solidarity with 
Jesus' way of nonviolence. Its intrinsic meaning, his well- 
attested character, ensure that always in the end it will 
lose any corrupt associations. It doesn't mark an exclusion 
but an inclusion; for it defines the only way the human 
race can live together. 

Anointing with the Spirit 

That immersion is obviously also a washing; when we 
understand the ancient bath, we see the connection with 
new life. There was hardly any water for bathing in an- 
cient cities until the aqueducts of imperial Rome. After 
daily nude exercises, the Greek or Roman man smeared 
on low-grade olive oil, then clean sand, and scraped off the 


mass. A painted vase of olive oil was the prize for victors 
in the games. In the sun-baked Mediterranean this oiling, 
still followed by local athletes, is preferable to our con- 
stant baths; it keeps the skin supple, protects against burn- 
ing and skin-cancer. In the ancient world, deficiencies in 
cleaning (and in extraction of the oil) were made up for 
by blending in scents — distillation of alcohol to carry 
perfumes was unknown. 

At the rare ceremony of an actual bath in water, all 
the more important to restore skin-oils. Lower-class Arab 
girls in Beirut today, though very neat, seldom bathe from 
week to week; but on their wedding day undergo an elabo- 
rate bath with perfuming. Whenever Homeric heroes ar- 
rive at somebody's palace, they're bathed by the maids — 
perhaps country boys wouldn't know how to go about it. 
Then they're anointed with olive oil and dressed in a 
clean linen tunic. 

The processions of the Parthenon frieze and 
Augustus' Altar of Peace show a free citizenry wearing 
their dress of office — white tunics or togas. Ideally they 
took a bath beforehand. (At the date of the reliefs, both 
Athens and Rome had become imperialist states, making 
propaganda out of democratic symbols; but the symbols 
are authentic.) The Greek names of the tunic (chiton) 
and of the best linen (byssos) are the Sumerian and Egyp- 
tian words for flax, brought in by Phoenician trade. Along 
with the fabric, the classical world also inherited from the 
Near East the civic context it was worn in. 

Hebrew priests and kings (unlike earlier Near East- 
ern ones) held delegated authority, for they were answera- 
ble to the prophet, who enjoyed an inviolable status like 
the Roman tribune of the people. When they were conse- 


crated for office, they probably took a bath, and were 
anointed (as still in Britain) and clothed in vestments 
which defined their office. Prophets shared the anointing. 

When Jesus was seen as summing up the roles of king, 
priest, and prophet in an unexpected way, he was given all 
three offices under the title of "Anointed," Aramaic Mes- 
siah, Greek Christ. (He is also seen in Greek manner as a 
victorious athlete.) The elements of consecration are 
spread out through his life: the ritual bath, an anointing, 
investiture in the murex-purple cloak of royalty. All point 
to that death which confirms his Messianic status: "This 
Jesus whom you crucified, God has made both Lord and 

The acts of passage through the waters and anointing 
are seen together as conveying the "gifts of the Spirit." 
There is a uniform Mediterranean physiology in which 
the word for "wind" (Hebrew ruah, Greek pneuma, Latin 
spiritus) also means "breath" and "principle of life." The 
ruah of God which moves on the face of the water is a pre- 
cosmic wind, thought of as his breath, which impregnates 
the deep into life. Later he breathes it onto the clay which 
he has shaped. So the ritual bath, which marks our birth 
into a new state of life, is taken as the point where we start 
breathing its atmosphere. 

A community is seen as a bigger man animated by its 
proper breath or "spirit." Its "members" are limbs of his 
body, and are ascribed common descent, real or adoptive. 
Hellenes are descendants of Hellen son of Deucalion, sur- 
vivor of the Flood; Israelites of Israel-Joseph. We're all 
sons of Adam. One trouble in America is that we can't re- 
vive the myth of Noah to give white and black a common 


Jesus' original ideological program, the Sermon on 
the Mount, represents his understanding of the fresh start 
which both he and his hearers have just made. Their bap- 
tism by John generated a new community inside Israel, 
where Jesus through his gifts emerged as leader. In its es- 
prit de corps we come to live "in Christ" the principle of 
reconciliation, as previously we had died in Adam the 
principle of estrangement. 

Murder is committed by the first sons of Adam; its re- 
sult is Babel, many peoples with mutually incomprehensi- 
ble languages. The community of Jesus is held together by 
a common spirit which puts the mutually understood 
tongues of brotherhood in every mouth. Communication 
through the shared language of dialogue is also the form 
of the new community invented by Plato. 

Baptism and Confirniation in the Church 

When under Constantine the Church was taken up 
into the power-structure, the phases of the ritual bath 
were separated. Baptism became a token of membership in 
the only society anybody could see, of which Church and 
State were two elements. Hence it was put as early in life 
as possible. (Constantine himself, the link between two 
ages, postponed baptism until he'd finished his necessary 
crimes.) The gift of the spirit became optional and was 
put around puberty. 

The Reformation State Churches were in a dilemma; 
they were the religious phase of a total society, but they 
wanted to return to the principle that a person chose the 
new way of Jesus freely. But then there had to be a possi- 


bility of his rejecting it— or choosing it in a way unaccept- 
able to the established Church. They patched up the 
dilemma by continuing infant baptism, and making 
confirmation theoretically an acceptance in one's own per- 
son of what had been promised before by others. Soon that 
reaffirmation became mostly formal. The total society was 
broken instead by the appearance of dissenting churches 
and then of skepticism, always against opposition. In the 
end it was secular law, not canon law, that evolved the no- 
tion of tolerance — which for the first time since Constan- 
tine restored to the Church in principle its autonomy over 
against the State. 

But within any of the existing denominations today, as 
in America, baptism is an infancy rite, introducing the 
baby to the community. Confirmation or confession of 
faith is a puberty rite of graduation from church school — 
really of graduation from church. For we've evolved a chil- 
dren's religion, suitable also for those in second childhood, 
patronized by adults principally to ensure attendance of 
their kids in church school. Entrance into that religion is 
no longer an act of separation from the world, but of iden- 
tification with it. 

The radical Reformation sects restored adult decision 
to split from the world, preserved in theory by Baptists. 
Their liberal clergy, hampered by tradition from making 
immersion less than total, can dispense with it today alto- 
gether. But we face evils for which immersion is not too 
great, but too little, symbolic expression. In their guerrilla 
attacks on draft boards, the Baltimore and Milwaukee 
Catholics used real self-drawn blood, real homemade na- 
palm. If ever somebody in the Peace Movement is bap- 
tized, he'll actually get wet in some body of water — maybe 


a Baptist tank. Tlie bell bottomed trousers and army jack- 
ets of our dropouts, with their cry for authentic drama, 
point back to the old symbols — the white garment, can- 
dles, procession. No need to refute their mythology that 
the myrrh of Moses' anointing oil was psychedelic. 

The early Church communicated a secret summary of 
ideology to the candidates, and we should be working on 
such a chain of slogans. The imposition of hands, begun 
by the minister (a link with the global community in 
space and time), should spread to the whole group with 
the kiss of peace — what all humanity except Anglo-Saxons 
do when they meet. Mutual acceptance, reciprocal subor- 
dination. We verbal types needn't be surprised if action 
people, normally tongue-tied, respond in the languages of 

Adult Baptism as Normative 

So far as the Church claims to be the nucleus of the re- 
newed community, it must make commitment to itself an 
adult affair. In the rapid social change we'll be seeing to 
the end of time, each generation must decide for itself to 
take on integrity. That was also how the Church began. 
Of course people are grooving up younger than they used 
to, in the accelerated political consciousness of our high 

In a stable society before scientific medicine, being 
born was the biggest trauma Avhen acceptance Avas most 
needed. The later crises of puberty, marriage, vocation 
were slid over or prearranged. Today with medicine and 
natural childbirth, coming into the world isn't necessarily 


to be propitiated by parents or child. But the infant bap- 
tism fastened onto us by medieval fear of death has robbed 
the Church of the proper way to manifest its own begin- 

The American Resistance has developed a symbolism 
of original power for young men to take the right road: 
the turn-in of draft cards. But it's an action vulnerable to 
the whim of the State to modify or repeal, like the incense 
on Caesar's altar. Then and now, resistance to Leviathan 
is the natural moral condition of baptism — but not a sub- 
stitute. It's not available in the same Avay to women or 
older men, and doesn't operate on the same psychological 

In our transitional period, most converts to a renewed 
Way have been baptized as babies by conformist parents 
in a conformist Church. Of course the new church is the 
daughter of the old; when it goes back to mother saying 
"War is murder" it doesn't want to shock, but to show 
how well it's learned its catechism. Still, as the Roman 
church suspects the form or intent of Protestant baptism, 
much more may we suspect the form or intent by which 
babies without conscience are accepted into racist exploi- 
tative societies. Out of the peace revolution is born an 
evangelism of actual sin and actual redemption — 
awareness of complicity and of liberation. Persons aware 
of coming into the community of new life for the first time 
should have the privilege of entering it — and by the 
means indicated in old books, in their subconscious de- 
sires. Instead of asking theoretical questions about valid- 
ity, why not rather ask the person what (if anything) has 
happened? For persons baptized as infayits in established 
churches, the normal mode of taking on renewal will be 


conditional rebaptism. Its vows should clearly define the 
meaning of recruitment into the nonviolent revolution of 
Jesus — what the Book of Common Prayer should intend 
by "Christ's faithful soldier and servant." 

If America moves towards stable revolutionary 
Quaker-style families, the cry for "birthright" infant bap- 
tism would return soon enough. The danger will be that 
once again a way of life (however objectively correct) will 
be imposed on children without their wishes having been 
consulted. Of course people hope their kids will follow 
them in the peace revolution; but it can't be done in 
Maoist style by youth battalions, but only by availability 
of the option and persuasion. 

Getting the Message Through Obstacles 

How can the unionized blue-collar workers, ill- 
educated and TV-watching, be brought to see the unsatis- 
factory substitute for living that's been fobbed off on 
them? As the Resistance has struggled to push its 
convictions over apathy and bureaucracy, it's been driven 
out of Puritan shyness into ritual drama — the stylized vul- 
garity in the morality-plays of the San Francisco Mime 
Troupe, the Bread and Puppet Theatre. Few have bugged 
the churches so successfully as the guerrilla street liturgies 
of our own Dick York, of Viv Broughton's radical church 
in London. The Cranmers of our new age shall be Jerry 
Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, burning five-dollar bills at 
the Stock Exchange, milling in for peace, wearing revolu- 
tionary costumes to un-American committees, inaugurat- 
ing pigs. 


The Fresh Start as Rebuilding Community 

As we dissociate ourselves from exploitation in the 
world, much more so in the Church, which we claim as 
seed of a new world. Since denominationalism marks the 
Church's powerlessness to throw off complicity, our 
baptism is a rejection of denominations. The precondition 
of reunion is our personal fresh start. As obedience to God 
implies disobedience to the State, so far as it's trespassing 
on his property, it also implies an act of ecclesiastical dis- 
obedience, so far as the Church has gone along with the 
State. The membership rolls of sixteenth-century Christi- 
anity don't make sense any longer. The only Church we 
can be baptized into is underground or underwater — the 
yellow submarine we all live in. 

Nascent congregations are springing up from the 
community already there in the peace movement. History 
is gathering together children of the denominations who 
heard the message their clergy transmitted and rejected. 
The liberated Church will become visible when seminar- 
ians ask to be ordained in it, when people come to be bap- 
tized into the thing which is blossoming — precisely as a re- 
sult of their adherence. 

To swing the compass-needle of our psyche into line 
with the electromagnetic field of the cosmos may begin 
as an act of deprivation: the schizoid withdrawal which 
points to a new center outside claiming us; the auto acci- 
dent which snaps old threads and makes us put the new to- 
gether. But when we emerge finally from the waters and a 
dove brings the olive to our brow, if ever in our lives we 


should know what it means to be a man or woman. The 
first test of our fresh start is our freedom simultaneously to 
concentrate psychic energy into sexuality and to sublimate 
it into creativity. The next crisis is our non-negotiable de- 
mand for love. 

chapter FIVE 

The Demand for Love: 
The Source 
of Creativity 

The chemist sees water as the fundamental 
liquid, and normal saline or wine as complex 
md derivative. So the Department of Philosophy line is 
that clear colorless consciousness is the normal state of 
ourselves. But the actual condition of our psyche is a 
spectrum of colored emotional states, where sexuality is- 
suing into creation is predominate. In Hebrew the primary 
meaning of the verb "to know" is sexual, "And Abram 
knew Sarah his wife"; the intellectual meaning is gotten 
from this by abstraction. 

Our relationship to other living creatures is floated on 
a sea of sexuality. We play a feminine-passive role over 
against the animals; like the female of their species, we ad- 
mire the lion's mane, the peacock's tail, the stag's antlers, 
the cock's comb. Art today, as in early matrilineal sorieties, 
stresses female sexual characteristics; but our classic art is 
marked by statues of the naked standing male. We've de- 


rived from the animals the will to domination over fel- 
low-males, which is extended to control over nature and 
magnified into mindless social institutions; but sexual dom- 
ination needn't be so destructive. 

The Derailment of Sexuality 

The energy of sexuality tends to get invested in sym- 
bols, bank deposits of its gold. A handkerchief, a ring, a 
photo, places, odors. The nostalgia for childhood land- 
scape or the reliable tune of the summer merry-go-round 
is projection of preadolescent sexuality. The psychic stir- 
ring which at a different place or time leads to overt sex- 
uality can illuminate a scientific problem, push us into 
craftsmanship, remind us of a friend in trouble. The act of 
sex consummated is a psychic sanctuary to march out from 
and return to safely. Sublimation and fulfilment: poles of 
one magnet. 

The interdependence of society reflects on the cul- 
tural level the biological necessity of intermarriage. The 
incest-taboo, the body's own awareness of harmful reces- 
sive mutations, spreads out positively into elaborate 
kinship systems. In early and primitive societies, the ex- 
change of women, like commerce, is a bond tying neigh- 
boring communities together — the original civilizing in- 

The different wave-lengths of sexuality in men and 
women, which they can never tell each other about, are 
the psychic components of procreation. As the newly ferti- 
lized ovum imitates the first life in the primordial sea, our 


desire reflects a planetary tension in the eons of pre-life. 
The superabundance of our sexuality provides for the con- 
tinuance of the species. And also the head of steam for all 
other creativity too; our best ideas come in the free play of 
dreaming. But if we let that engine run idle for too long it 
shakes itself to pieces. 

When a society has become an end in itself and lost 
the assent of its supposed citizens, it begins advertising it- 
self and manipulating them through technique grown au- 
tonomous. The Roman Empire advertised itself through 
its own power — coinage, inscriptions, the emperor, the 
army. The Middle Ages advertised themselves through 
their own civic and divine cult. Our society has to give 
people apparent freedom of choice; religious symbols have 
died, power must be pretended improper. So everything 
we want to sell has to be advertised through a woman's 
belly. It's remarkable that so many Americans can break 
through mystification and find the road to wealth and 

A distorted culture cheats desire with unrewarding 
objects: a cat, a homosexual attachment, pornography, 
compulsivity. The derailment of sexuality, in its twisting 
of inner space, mirrors manipulation of the outer environ- 
ment — and of the nature-peoples who inhabited it before 
we came along. Especially in America, destructive sexual 
tension is built up by the interracial affinities which are 
supposed not to exist. Eldridge Cleaver, during his years 
of celibacy on ice, analyzes the whole of our society as the 
forbidden liaison between the Supermasculine Menial and 
the Ultrafeminine, with the Omnipotent Administrator 
and the Amazon standing frustrated in the wings. 


Marriage as Permanent Gene-Cell 
of Revolution 

The direct biological fruit of sexuality is childbirth, 
which tames it and transfers it to new objects. Its indirect 
cultural fruit has been called sublimation: a direct change 
from solid to gas without ever passing through the liquid 
state. Sublimation normally appears as the creativity of a 
profession, learned by apprenticeship, and continuing so- 
ciety by cultural rather than genetic inheritance. It's im- 
portant to keep the two channels distinct: not to try and 
teach your wife everything you know, not to make love to 
your students. 

Each phase of the revolution will only blossom out of 
a stable cadre, convinced about what must be done, and 
ready to wait five, ten, twenty years until the right mo- 
ment for action. The family is the primary cadre. If we 
can't build permanent peace-loving families, with sex and 
close personal relations going for us, how can we ever 
build peace-loving nations? The family is the revohition- 
ary building unit, the cell or chromosome, naturally indi- 
cated by our biological roots. 

Both for individual fulfilment and for a new society, 
people need to hold stably together, with flying buttresses 
in the past to brace them against the winds of faddism and 
violence. When anger invades a marriage with its billy 
club and Mace, people must decide whether there was a 
permanent relation. But even if we decide we must trans- 
plant once again, we should be clear we've postponed the 
long-term schedule of setting down roots. 


It was a natural mistake for the young people to as- 
sume that the locked box of scorpions, the hypocrisy of 
adult society, discredited the hope of permanence in 
human relations. But discovering how badly the suburb 
has failed should just produce the determination to do 
better. The one best way for the revolution to show its se- 
riousness is in giving its elders an example of fidelity to a 
sick lover, a buddy in jail, a neurotic husband. 

The Revelation of Sexuality in History 

Human freedom was invented through the discovery 
of the human body under the Mediterranean sun after 
millennia of sculpture which showed kings, priests, gods 
in their rigid hieratic dress. Xenophon says again you 
could tell his men from the barbarians by the fact that 
Hellenes were brown and Persians white. Athletics at 
Olympia or Sparta was a segregated Garden of Eden. The 
sculpture is echoed by Pindar's praise of the victor in the 
games, celebrating a struggle against dark powers, but 
without inherent tragedy. Sexuality is projected onto a 
new understanding of the gods in the Song of Solomon, 
and when Hesiod chronicles the descent of Titanic beings 
from the amour of Earth with Sky. 

Sexuality was no sooner liberated than corrupted, and 
innocence became a child's monopoly — even so with an 
undertow of desire and aggression. The bronze maidens 
on the blinding sands of Mykonos can't achieve full lack 
of shame, entire nakedness. Plato, who gave sexuality its 
place in Being, distresses us by making it not merely subli- 
mated but homosexual, following the fashion of his times. 


So the love of Achilles and Patroclus, once no different 
from that of David and Jonathan, "surpassing the love of 
women," later was given overt coloration. 

The fresh start discovered by Jesus liberates all psy- 
chic powers, beginning with sexuality. Besides the politi- 
cal revolutionaries whose movement he co-opted for non- 
violence, his earliest companions were women of the 
street, whom he saw as closest to naturalization in the new 
City. Once they had been the ministrants of temple- 
hospitality. Before the appointment of a resident consul 
from his city, the travelling merchant had no protection 
under law except the guest-friendship of a god in his priv- 
ileged sanctuary. So the temple was the first hotel, and 
hence the scene of what is misleadingly called "sacred 
prostitution." It was good business, and a religious duty, 
for the girls of the city like an Eskimo's daughter to 
provide the stranger with home comforts. By the time of 
Jesus, their clients were overseas mercenaries, and the old 
civic hospitality was no more. Somehow he restored their 
trust in humankind and rechanneled sexuality. Susan Son- 
tag records that the Vietnamese rehabilitated the prosti- 
tutes of Hanoi by pampering them in country-houses and 
reading them fairy-tales. 

The natural acceptance of sexuality by Jesus becomes 
strained and ambiguous in Paul, who can hold only ele- 
ments in isolation: the praise of Christian love (agape); 
the naked athlete of the Isthmian games, "I have fought 
the good fight, I have finished my course." Literature dena- 
tures the violence of history by naive sexual motives, de- 
riving great events from the curiosity of an Eve, the am- 
bition of a mythical Dido or actual Cleopatra. Pasternak 
organizes our experience of revolutionary change by sue- 


cessive liaisons: a wife from the old regime, a mistress 
from the new, a pickup from disintegration. 

Western history is worked out in the fluctuations of 
sexuality: the invention of romantic love in Provence; its 
polarization into Puritan repression and Latin machismo; 
its projection onto the Romantic landscape. When Deism 
drove the old Calvinism out of Boston, it was pushed back 
into New Hampshire and Vermont, where it festered into 
our spectacular sexual deviations: polygamous Joseph 
Smith, Mary Baker Eddy's metaphysical prudery, chaste 
Transcendentalism, the segregated Shakers, the peculiar 
Oneida community. Long before the Wright brothers, 
Goethe made Faust dream of flying towards the sunset in 
an eternal evening over the world's seashores. The peoples 
of the earth play and swim at the edge of the waters they 
had once come out from, divested of the skins and fabrics 
they had picked up on dry land: 

And see the children sport upon the shore 
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore. 

Population Planning and Individual Fulfilment 

It's wrong to make a woman bear six children unless 
she's physically very fit and her husband well-to-do: 

Oh your daddy's rich 

And your ma is good-looking. 

In any case it's too many for the planet. And high birth- 
rate plus high infant mortality, as in India and Latin 
America, destroys human dignity. The poor man is forced 
into this ill-judged claim to esteem above all through colo- 


nialism, now inherited by America, which increased his 
hopes and decreased his opportunities. The high birthrate 
in refugee camps shows what people do when they haven't 
got anything to do; the whole world is becoming a refugee 
camp from vanished community. 

A crash program of population control is a temporary 

There was an old woman w ho lived in a shoe. 
She had so many children! 
(She didn't know what to do.) 

But in the end nothing will do but an economic system 
where people can see more than a marginal standard of 
living when they limit their families. If American invest- 
ment is too paternalistic to allow this, local nationalisms 
must arise, presumably socialist, perhaps not too closely 
tied to Russia or China. 

The human being can live in the arctics or tropics, 
devise means of survival in the depths of the sea or outer 
space. But the efflorescence of culture — with all its 
ambiguities — came from temperate climates. We'll do well 
not to push our plasticity too far. Especially the facts of 
being female put limits on the adaptability of the species. 
An element of woman's liberation is her recognition that 
she's one check to complete male destruction of the globe. 

The interruption of a physical cycle produces general 
frustration. Jet flight over several time zones distorts the 
organism for a day or so, and diplomats or businessmen 
aren't supposed to negotiate immediately upon arrival. 
Childbirth is an integral part of the woman's sexual cycle. 
Her excitation rises and falls more slowly than the man's, 
and is less localized. She's not quite released from tension 
uiuil nursing brings on the uterine contractions which 


snap the rubber band back to nearly where it was before. 
How to reconcile family planning with release from ten- 
sion? America has settled on the contraceptive pill as the 
basic means of planning, and others than doctors need to 
discuss the problems it creates. 

Spokesmen for the sexual revolution point to the 
"separation of sexuality from conception" as a biological 
fact. How far is it a psychological fact? The pill, although 
it accentuates the lunar cycle, in other respects gives the 
impression of being pregnant. When girls first start it, a 
number report dizziness and trouble in focussing — effects 
much more widespread than scattered reports of blood- 
clotting. Some get prematurely broad in the hips — per- 
haps not just with the better eating which comes from 
cooking for a man, but also with cumulative pseudo-preg- 
nancy. Others feel the pill is trippy, they're walking 
drugstores, turning themselves on and off, up and down. 

Cautious women have a lively suspicion of the un- 
tested chemicals of the drug business, remembering thalid- 
omide. For better or worse, in or out of marriage, some 
have gone on with mechanical or chemical contraception, 
accepting as a lesser evil the psychic barrier from its be- 
ing awkward, messy, not fully reliable. In general we 
shouldn't expect to find a way of cutting ourselves off com- 
pletely from the biological conditions of our existence. 

For a different reason — the daily schedule required — 
the pill doesn't work in illiterate village societies. Under- 
developed countries doing population control are better 
off with the Loop, which doesn't require maintenance and 
is less likely to have unknown long-term effects. While in- 
dividually not foolproof, it works well statistically; that's 
fine so long as the villagers are willing to be treated as sta- 


We must firmly squash down the part of us that still 
hankers back to frontier America, when big families were 
an economic asset on farms of indefinite acreage. One 
branch of medicine we can certainly cut back on is help- 
ing childless couples to have babies — especially when the 
remedy may bring multiple births. Rather we should treat 
their sterility as a precious natural resource, and help 
them turn it to good use. Here may be the means to take 
the pressure of guilt off the homosexual. 

The urgency of having fewer people points to abor- 
tion in more cases than now legal, above all when a de- 
formed child is likely. We must just live with the damage 
it does to the woman's body and psyche. Of course, repres- 
sive laws (as with abortion and marijuana) are one of the 
roadblocks by which the American system in its folly de- 
tours reform into revolution. We might meditate on the 
fact that Greeks and Romans, the inventors of human dig- 
nity, exposed a deformed child at birth, before the father 
had acknowledged it as a person with legal rights. This 
unsentimental realism about the requirements of a hard 
world sprang from reluctance to clutter up the earth with 
nonviable beings. Still we've decided that this is an im- 
proper decision for any person to make; all the more then 
we should take extra pains not to overstep our preroga- 
tives elsewhere. 

A Family Schedule 

Moralists have little business to sit around and criti- 
cize the courting practices of a society; much business to 
criticize a society which forces courting practices on young 


people many years before the desirable time to have chil- 
dren. Where moderate delay of awakening does no dam- 
age, our current premature sexualization deprives people 
of the privilege of having been children, and gets them 
married too young. The Vietnamese, admired by Ameri- 
can revolutionaries, although their strength lies in past 
fertility, prescribe three delays to their young women: if 
they fall in love, to delay engagement; if they get engaged, 
to delay marriage; if they get married, to delay having chil- 
dren. Sexual liberation is seen as a barrier to vocational 
liberation. If we find these antiseptic heroines unattrac- 
tive, we have the burden of working out something better. 

It's damaging for a couple to use any means of contra- 
ception for an extended period of years at the beginning 
of their relationship. Having no children or even one 
child doesn't give enough reason to be living together — 
which always creates more problems than it solves. And an 
unmarried couple needs a double commitment to hold to- 

A lot of the girls show another symptom of pseudo- 
pregnancy: irrational short temper. A girl living childless 
with a man, whether married or unmarried, wavers be- 
tween fears of losing him if she gets sick or fired, and 
threats of leaving him. Behind fear and threat lies the 
growing boredom of continued sexuality with the same 
person which never leads to the creation of anything — ex- 
cept endless work on a Ph.D. thesis, or savings for a second 
car for her to get a better job to earn money to save for a 
better second car . . . And in any case the lingering fear 
(or hope) of unplanned pregnancy. The pseudo-preg- 
nancy of the pill bears more of the disadvantages of the 
real thing than we realize — and none of the advantages. 


The other side of the fertility dilemma appears when 
couples marry early, get the right-size family by the middle 
twenties, and then have to face twenty years of contracep- 
tion at the other end. Not all children want to be pals 
with parents no older than great big brothers and sisters. 
We need once again a normal schedule of marriage (if 
only as a pattern to deviate from) which will minimize 
frustrations. So much is now known in scholarship, the sci- 
ences, the professions, that professional training for both 
men and women should extend into the late twenties. A 
married person with children usually makes it through 
graduate school with competent work, but without the 
imagination and depth ideally required. 

If people get married in the late twenties, they can 
further utilize the natural cycle of the woman's recupera- 
tion, which makes it easier to have children about three 
years apart. Children closer together tire out the mother 
and compete for attention on the same level. In this way 
childbearing can end in the late thirties, when it's less de- 
sirable for both mother and baby. Then there isn't a long 
period of contraception ahead. Also the demands of the 
children and one or two professional careers channel en- 
ergy away from sexuality. 

A new spontaneous sentiment for planning is the 
trend for couples to have one or two children of their own 
and then adopt multiracial orphans from at home or 
abroad. It maximizes benefits from genetic intermixture, 
liberal training, the cheerful solidarity of big families. 
The extra care required for adopted babies also helps take 
pressure off sexuality. (But of course a properly function- 
ing world wouldn't produce all those babies to be put out 
for adoption.) 


For the mother, childbirth and lactation are the end 
of a cycle; for the child, a beginning. It's preferable for 
him to go ahead from it with a permanent father and 
mother — in accordance with the facts of his conception, 
which he somehow understands even before it's explained 
in the learning context of the playground. Children 
brought up otherwise have something left out of their 
makeup, which can be compensated but not replaced by a 
different kind of intensity. 

To acquiesce in the constant breakup of radical fami- 
lies and liaisons as a revolutionary necessity, even when 
spending time in separate jails, is a counsel of despair. 
The anarchist theory of loosing indiscriminate sexuality 
onto society disrupts the movement for change as much as 
it does the System. Not merely pressure of vocational 
training, but also the risky work which only the young can 
do, point strongly to postponement of marriage. Student 
revolutionaries approaching the magic age of thirty are 
now moving into stable marriages. They don't need to 
breed big families themselves, since they're converting a 
new generation of middle-class rebels — themselves often 
products of a liberal happy suburban fortress. 

Within a repressive society in rapid change, the per- 
sonnel of the revolution can always be recruited from the 
decaying order of things. Hence a myth of the world's end, 
where having children is secondary. The full force of per- 
sonality, so seldom realized, can be channelled into organ- 
izing. Paul sees so big a burden of interpretation on per- 
sons like himself as to rule out marriage — which in the 
Roman world had broken down much more completely 
than in ours, and had to be rebuilt precisely on the basis 
of the new community. John Wesley in the face of un- 


evangelized Europe and America saw it imperative for 
the herald to spend a number of years unmarried. 

The archaic discipline of the Catholic Church plays 
an ambiguous role. On one hand, its intransigence on 
birth control and clerical marriage, its complicated pre- 
tenses about divorce and childrearing, make people un- 
able to see it as an actual guide for faith or morals. On 
the other hand, its members who voluntarily took on celi- 
bacy exhibit a spirituality of population control, and form 
a revolutionary vanguard, imfettered to vote for the fu- 
ture in a time of cosmic troubles. These inner contradic- 
tions will only be resolved through an infusion of Protes- 
tant liberty in new-style reunion. 

The mistakes venial for individuals are mortal for 
societies. Paul's harsh words about sexual deviation in the 
early chapters of Romans are sociological analysis; family 
breakdown is an index of social collapse. The very fact 
that it's easy and forgivable for individuals to go wrong 
implies something unforgivable about society. Our moral- 
ists can't find words harsh enough for our Madison Ave- 
nue temples of prostitution. 

The Family as Unit of Rebuilding 

The New Testament sees the solidarity in the local 
community as its marriage to Christ. Today the solidarity 
of the Church is fractured into denominations. If people 
are well-informed enough to know they want something 
claimed by one of the denominations — ^a liturgy, a system 
of discipline — they also know it doesn't say what they 


must hear. A spirituality of marriage adequate to the sit- 
uation cuts across existing divisions. 

In the marriage vows, the fresh start of baptism into 
nonviolence must be channelled into an undertaking not 
to overburden the planet, the oppressed, the partner. Like- 
wise through the mysterious process of education people 
must help their children to make the same choice as they 
did, but no less freely. Actual sensitivity about personal 
relations is almost as hard to achieve in a house as on a 
planet. If we can reach across the earthquake-fault here, 
we can hope to reach across it anywhere. And it has been 
bridged here from time to time. If a peacemaker isn't de- 
termined on actual integrity with wife or husband, we 
don't have to take that peacefulness very seriously any- 
where else. 

Revolutionary movements at one stage must be Puri- 
tanical. How can a vacation, a place by the sea, guestrooms 
and a garden, violin lessons be squared with the austerity 
and urgency of the present? But these are the things we're 
fighting for, and they must be built somehow into the rev- 
olution, or they won't be there when it succeeds. One of 
the places where the old violence is first overcome is in a 
family of Bachs, Huxleys, Wesleys. Even a whole commu- 
nity of Quakers can build a new constructive life on the 
rubble of the old society. 

Both suburban and revolutionary families shipwreck 
on the transformation of sexuality. In a certain year, there 
seems to be nothing holding husband and wife together 
but a bunch of fractious children. Still, the widening gap 
needn't be anybody's fault or even something wrong. The 
original job is starting to be wound up; the children are 


taking their life into their own hands, more independent 
than anybody gave them credit for. "Daddy, us third- 
graders had a sitdoun today. We sat down outside the 
classroom for half an hour. We demanded no more 

At this point the parents' cue is to keep on switching 
creativity to the task which both they and the children can 
recognize as above all legitimate. No more substitutes. 
Perhaps a deepening involvement of the woman in what 
the man is doing. But the very notion of a profession in 
which the wife can take legitimate interest and pride 
shows how far we've got to move from the current job 
scene. Much more, for husband and wife to work out an 
actual joint project. Whatever woman's liberation means 
for them, both must radically rethink the channelling of 
creativity. How can it find a profession which will support 
the family and still express their rock-bottom convictions 
as it blossoms into usefulness? 

chapter SIX 

The Demand for 
Actual Vocation 

The need for food, and aggression with its com- 
plex roots, push man into his daily work. But 
our "economic" system isn't any longer what its name 
implies, a rational "household management" of the planet. 
Its jobs fit neither into intelligible long-range goals nor 
individual fulfilment. There they sit, rootless parasites in 
the jungle of competition (itself rooted in no proper soil 
but its own decay), bearing ostentatious purple flowers un- 
touched by sun, wind, and rain. 

The Crisis of Counter-Productive Jobs 

Jacques Ellul has analyzed with pitiless logic how the 
growth of knowledge has forced all jobs, and the society 
which they allegedly serve, into a cycle of self-expanding 
technique, recognizing no principles but itself, doing 
whatever can be done because it can be. If the supply of 
raw materials were infinite, what ever could break the 


cycle? Our finitude is our salvation. The limitations of 
planetary ecology, of the poor's patience, of our inner 
balance, ensure that at some point technique will destroy 
the conditions for its own existence. We could still hope to 
smash its handcuffs a little before the whole environment 
spontaneously breaks down. The most important sciences 
are the ones which laid out the groundplan of natural or- 
ders before they were stifled by the finigus growth of tech- 
nique: ecology, Marxist historical analysis, the classical lit- 
eratures which define individual freedom. 

John Calvin, who wound up the clock of our ec- 
onomic system by inventing the delayed gratification of 
saving, left tiie goals and means of the professions inade- 
quately examined. To the industrial and imperial West he 
gave the dogma that any job which actually exists has a 
prescriptive right to be called the service of God. The mys- 
tique of secularism ends up in the same bind; any move- 
ment which involves large numbers of people must be a 
proper part of the human enterprise. But we must rather 
ask of every job and profession whether it serves a legiti- 
mate need; and in a legitimate way, without breaking of 
orders. We do this by holding the System more seriously 
than it does itself to its self-professed principles. 

What is called a "student" movement leads the push 
into the future, wavering between withdrawal and vio- 
lence. But in either case studying is abandoned: the young 
people are too itchy to embark on any seven-year course of 
study, medicine or physics. The bridge which normally 
leads from curiosity to vocation loses its abutments on 
both ends and falls into the river. 

Simultaneously the attractive power of the profes- 
sions is corrupted. The scientist lets his research be chan- 


nelled by grants from foundations dipping into a Defense 
Department well. Businessmen acquiesce in buying per- 
sonal affluence at the cost of personal stifling, and the clos- 
ing of doors for billions around the world. A parasitic sys- 
tem of middlemen muscles in on writing and artistic 
production, making and breaking fads by marketing rules, 
as Time invented the Death of God in 1966. 

Unionized labor is there serving its two collusive mas- 
ters; what their hands have made is taken from them, 
nothing to show their families except calluses and the pay- 
check to live in the suburbs and watch the TV and stand 
in line at popular restaurants. None has a second string to 
his bow; even this unsatisfactory life is lived only by kind 
permission of the System. 

And then the young people see their professors cut- 
ting classes to get consulting fees for tightening the Sys- 
tem's bolts. There isn't any sense of working together at a 
joint task. A depression might turn people back to necessi- 
ties, but is unlikely so long as the State goes on subsidizing 
a military machine, and patching up inflation through 
old-age benefits. 

In a poor society, alienation is controlled by a class 
of exploiting rich, hidden behind bureaucracy. In an 
affluent society, alienation is built into the institutional 
complex of the system, which generates warped parallels 
to the institutions of a normally functioning society. 
Under this constant pressure the whole body of the State 
degenerates into a cancer feeding on itself. The media are 
its pseudo-language, spreading the lie that the interests of 
the technological complex are supreme. Its jobs are a ma- 
nipulation of paper and men. Through it, the industrial 
complex (more and more automated) turns out self- 


producing instruments of destruction, self-destructing 
consumer products, regardless of need. Obliteration and 
obsolescence — a system whose humanitarian triumph is 
military items obsolete before used, or scrubbed on the 
assembly line after billions have been spent. Its foreign 
policy is the degradation or development of poor peoples 
through its diplomatic, military, industrial, academic 
arms. Its churches are the churches. 

What makes the System seem so unapproachable is 
that so many people are spending their full working time 
(with however bad a conscience) at jobs which support it. 
The new things which critically need to be done involve a 
radical break with existing job-slots. Of course those slots 
are a big break with what they were a quarter-century ago, 
as the System progressively deforms the jobs inside itself. 
The aggressive retool themselves for new niches, others 
fall by the way. 

At first, the people moving out or moving over will 
only seem like scattered individuals. But somewhere some- 
time there will be a breakthrough — beginning in the 
Black Caucus of many professions now. The University re- 
bellion is serving notice that young people will not put 
their bodies behind the existing desks next to the potted 
philodendron and the glassbrick walls. With much in- 
efficiency and waste, because of their inadequate train- 
ing, they're groping for new slots to move into. But also 
the vanguard of the professionals — those with exceptional 
political consciousness or professional competence — are 
beginning to make the break. Physicists and physicians are 
taking the Hippocratic oath of revolutionary humanism 
not to lend themselves to the System's purposes of war and 


The Revolution of Inner Discipline 

The new consciousness of vocation began when pro- 
fessionals discovered that, while the unions slept behind 
them, they were in the vanguard by virtue of condemning 
the settled foreign policy of their Government on their 
own principles. When doctors denounced it for maiming 
civilians; anthropologists as genocidal; biologists as de- 
stroying a unique environment; statesmen as imprudent; 
lawyers as illegal; ambassadors as bad public relations; 
clergy as immoral — the Government could only set up its 
last smoke screens to persuade its captive generals not to 
condemn it as bad tactics, or its economists as bad invest- 

We can tell that the System is set on pulling itself 
down when its own logic again and again reminds us of its 
final refutation — our ineradicable dissatisfaction. I just 
got a questionnaire for my twenty-fifth reunion yearbook. 
Was I on schedule? Were any of my children hippies? 
W^ere they attending the old school? How did I estimate 
my net worth? Was my portfolio for income or growth? 
What was my house valued at? Over against seniority, ten- 
ure, and investments, the principal hope for the future is 
our dynamic security of getting fired to do the next thing 
on the agenda of the cosmos. You may thumb your nose at 
your boss: "Something is happening here, and you don't 
know what it is, do you, Mr Jones?" It's the finger of God 
writing out new job-descriptions. 

Past needs have produced specialized forms of per- 
sonal discipline — the monk, the missionary, the inventor. 


the entrepreneur. We ask for an American da Vinci to di- 
agram the proportions of a man. People do all that drink- 
ing, watching ball games on TV, golf, driving around on 
the freeways, because they can't face spending time on 
themselves. From the lack of any gravitational mass in 
those empty lives, by an exact law the high-velocity 
children spin off centrifugally into new eccentric orbits. 

A man becomes himself by what he does: "In the be- 
ginning was the deed." The self-affirmation of a fresh start, 
the creativity which temporarily flowed into the pool of 
sexuality, are supposed in the end to fill up the ocean of a 
"vocation," something you're called to by the nature of 
things. Our co-workers there are built up with us into a 
professional team. How can it pass from being the arena of 
competition, where men are ground down into identical 
grains of sand, to a nuclear cell of actual community? 

Craftsmanship as Affirmation of Natural Orders 

Our demand for usefulness is another form of the cry 
for meaning. Our community began to cohere for the first 
time while we wrapped hundreds of pounds of donated 
pennies to bail out our brothers and sisters in jail. In our 
need for perfection, our own spoiled craftsmanship throws 
us back on the primordial creativity. We find our meaning 
in work — and not just anything which calls itself work, 
but the work of the revolutions of peace, done in solidar- 
ity with that archaic revolution which once lifted the cos- 
mos up bright and dripping out of the seismic waves of 

After the initial procreative act of creation, our tradi- 


tion sees its nuts-and-bolts detail as the work of a master 
tinker who hammers the earth out flat, and the sky as an 
Achilles' shield. "The sky announces the splendor of God, 
and the firmament shows the work of his hands" (Ps. 
19:2). Before that burst of creativity all is waste and void 
— there's no proper light, no birds in the air, all subject to 
earthquake. Then the architect sets up the seven pillars 
supporting the circular temple of the universe, and so sta- 
bilizes all. 

As we walk through the forest, by an act of concentra- 
tion we can focus on the billions of atoms in a leaf, and 
then think out to the waves of the sea, trying to grasp the 
extent of the matter in all the planets and galaxies. It's 
full of mysteries. Where are all the negative protons which 
should have been formed to balance off the positive ones 
in our part of the universe? Do the galaxies alternate mat- 
ter and anti-matter? Anyway, wherever we look, every- 
thing is full of organization; somebody has been hard at 

Our task is patiently to extricate the horse impris- 
oned in the jade, the cherries latent under the bark, the 
potential man overlaid by the frightened bully. In our 
part of the creation the most important things are human 
beings and the forms they define themselves in — words. 
The literary scholar instructed in the area of liberation 
brings out of his safe-deposit box new things and old 
things. Since we can't add an inch to our height, our work 
doesn't consist in making new things but in remaking ex- 
isting ones, polishing tarnished silver. The master we're 
all apprenticed to did his apprenticeship in the living 
grain of wood or stone, and then graduated as commu- 
nity-organizer and poet. 


Excellence: Beating the System 
at Its Own Game 

If the military is our profession we need to switch. 
But if we have a potentially rational vocation, our cue is 
neither to drop out, nor to lose hope, nor to go on 
climbing the ladder in hopes of gradual change; but to 
beat the System at its own game. If we take seriously the 
professed principles of business, the Church, law, engi- 
neering, foreign policy, medicine, we'll find that they sit 
in judgment on the System and condemn large areas of 
current practice. If we try to drop out, someday we'll have 
to drop back in again into compromise with the System — 
an unfruitful one, because we haven't got the competence 
to attack it head-on. After initial rebellion, a student 
should learn his profession exceptionally well, get his cre- 
dentials, and then turn his back on its promise of security. 
Swamp the profession with the reality of your work, and 
then use that bridgehead to push its compromised goals 
through to the universal goals they imply. 

Of course our contracts will frequently be termi- 
nated. We must keep firmly in mind that we're the ones 
who've been entrusted with the true principles of the Sys- 
tem, and that it knows it. It hopes we'll crawl back 
humbled. But if we bounce back with double energy and 
even more extensive proposals, better credentials than 
ever, it can't exclude us from the discussion. Because the 
apparently reliable are more or less phony careerists, who 
at graduate school every time cut the lectures on profes- 
sional ethics. In the end it's not the threat from the System 
that holds us back, but our slothful self-destructive suspi- 
cion that the System may be right. Push beyond that; ev- 


erything salvageable in the System will be salvaged only 
because able men not easily hurt have kept holding it up 
to its word. 

Every harlot was a virgin once, every bureaucrat was 
at one time a man, and we do him the credit of calling 
him back to himself. Of course we may not bring over the 
top management en bloc. They are at this very moment 
pretending that automation or group-dynamics is allowing 
the System to break through its old ways and become radi- 
cally responsive to our wishes — if we'll only be patient. 
But our patience has lasted five thousand years and things 
aren't all that different. 

Let it not offer us the cookies of minor concessions, or 
manipulate us by alternating patronage and neglect. We 
stick with it because we don't set ourselves up as founders 
of a counter-System; we propose to keep our lines open to 
the radicals of the next generation, who will be born in- 
side it. We're stuck with the System as we're stuck with the 
planet; we have to retain confidence that renewal is possi- 
ble within both. If we hold a true measure of the depth of 
its problems, we won't be fobbed off by its usual alterna- 
tion of cynicism and complacency. 

We will deal with the System on our scale, not its. It's 
as impossible to reconstruct a whole economic system as a 
whole continental biology; it operates by uncounted big 
and little mechanisms which slip through the meshes of 
every planner. What we can hope to do is: to halt by polit- 
ical action the major operations which are destroying nat- 
ural orders; to introduce correct principles in small areas 
where we more nearly have control; and then patiently to 
observe the reaction to this preliminary injection of order. 
After we've shaken the aphids off the rose bush, cut down 
the jungle of weeds, pruned off the deadwood, watered and 


fertilized, we just have to wait and see where the new 
growth appears. It knows better than we do. 

We must envisage a radical reordering of priorities in 
the professions, which can only be done by each individual 
in his own job and caucus. Catholic natural-law theory is a 
timid approach to what is needed. What Paul Goodman 
writes can always be read with profit. But everybody 
knows his own area best. We have to introduce the new ge- 
netic strains of love where we're actually operating — in 
the soil of the planet. 

The natural orders. Lawyers must find where exist- 
ing legal systems are most vulnerable to an application of 
justice, and push them to define new principles of interna- 
tional law, new rights for people and things. We must en- 
courage and fund the new breed of physicist and biologist 
who act as our watchdogs against the constant dangers of 
nuclear technology, insecticides, untried drugs, synthetic 
additives, substitute consumer products. We need edu- 
cated farmers and ranchers who incorporate wildlife 
preserves on their land, observe it with love, collaborate 
on equal terms with professional scientists — for knowl- 
edge, not manipulation. 

The planet and the local community. Planners 
today are operating on the wrong scales: too big to be re- 
sponsive to local needs, too small to be responsive to plan- 
etary needs. We must focus on each and distinguish them 

Decentralizing. It must be possible for a radical 
banker to find a means to help the ghetto or a poor nation 
finance itself and then keep his hands off. Or for doctors to 


invent a bridge between lucrative private specialty and 
immense clinics — a modest friendly neighborhood medi- 
cine. Engineers who don't scale up but down, finding ways 
to reduce the need for their own work, making it invisible. 
City planning — better, finding a smaller level of organiza- 
tion without the waste of commuting, everybody bringing 
his specialty into a more intimate approachable scale. Dis- 
persing industry into the fields— as Hanoi did under pres- 
sure of bombing. Local co-ops, bail bondsmen. Every step 
is in the right direction which destroys some possibility of 
national advertising. 

Internationalizing. A crash program to expand the 
study of Russian and Chinese, as well as minor languages; 
developing the wisdom of the body to be at home in dif- 
ferent climates. Lobbying to create UN conservation and 
rights commissions with real teeth in them. Embodying 
war-crimes precedents like Nuremberg and Stockholm in 
authoritative legal textbooks and live institutions. Using 
overseas loans for actual indigenous development. Genu- 
ine adaptation of Western medicine to other environ- 
ments, a coordinated attack on overpopulation by different 
techniques. Above all, every professional on all levels say- 
ing No to the flow of war materiel and personnel. 

Self-esteem and esteem for others. Every admin- 
istrator I know is squeezed by the dilemma of having sac- 
rificed his own creativity in favor of service to others — 
which turns out nonexistent. Much greater realism about 
both is required. 

Radical service. Reliable subsidies for militant law- 
yers who defend the defenseless — not for a year or two as 


public defender (a legal chaplaincy) but lifelong. Social 
service that doesn't exhaust the worker or demean the 
receiver — because it's done to strengthen the necessary 
revolutions. Medical committees for human rights which 
take on the police as a major health problem. Above all 
creating the reality that the administrator is the servant of 
the creative people around him. Not accepting complex 
decision-making bodies, just because they're expensive and 
succeeded in putting a missile-bearing submarine in the 

Humanizing. Restoring the link between workman 
and consumer. Contractors who will build more houses 
and more durable ones — with rooms for old people in 
them. Doctors who give a sick person more civilized treat- 
ment than a dinner guest. People's historians, like Staugh- 
ton Lynd writing a history of the American Resistance. 
Teaching the right books and encouraging people to 
produce more of the same. Restoring a philosophical disci- 
pline which doesn't confine itself to an ingrown set of 

Besides the practical vocations through which the 
world's work is done, some must devote themselves wholly 
to what we all do in part: through ideology, meditation 
defining the meaning of the world's work. On a globe only 
too well explored and grown familiar, is there still a voca- 
tion for the hermit? Thomas Merton found a way in Ken- 
tucky; the Port Chicago vigil for eight hundred days wit- 
nessed to nonviolence over against napalm in darkest 

Woman's job just as it is in most ways offers the ideal 


example. Somebody who keeps the house clean, takes care 
of the kids, plants a vegetable garden, fixes meals, and does 
the laundry has carried through her share of the bargain — 
really, the job assigned to Adam in the management of the 
garden. In comparison, what's all this destruction and 
busy work that men are doing? The liberation of women 
consists in their awareness of forming the vanguard of the 
green revolution. 

Not the worst but the best men today are crippled by 
inhibitions about putting their true impulses into action. 
We must remind ourselves of the enormous energies avail- 
able to society — Athens, Florence, London, the frontier, 
the Russian revolution, the space program. And these 
were pagan renaissance programs, in large part exploita- 
tive, asserting po^ver. Much deeper potential was tapped 
by the renewers of the Church — Francis, Luther, Fox, 
Wesley — carrying their vision of integrity through to its 
simple logical end. We have a job even more critical than 
theirs, we're proceeding less blindly. Why is the cry for hu- 
manization of world society no stronger? Because we don't 
trust the Spirit of humanity enough to make it stronger. 
We take a step forward and then half-draw it back, look- 
ing up and down the line to see if anybody else has taken 
the step; they are looking too. 

But the course of events is currently issuing the com- 
mand to march. Perhaps radical renewal won't come until 
our preliminary commitment to family or career is de- 
stroyed by persecution. Honest Frenchmen could unite 
against their country's Algerian policy — so much more hu- 
mane than our colonialism — because facile hopes had 
already been shattered in the Resistance of World War IL 
Its members — Camus, Ellul — could return to normal life 


and a career of deepened insight, but only because they'd 
once given up the certainty of those things. In America, 
students and the young haven't yet reached that despera- 
tion; only the blacks as yet can place their hope in having 
given up hope. 

Restoration of Working Community 
in the Church 

Hebrew literature, like early Greek literature, is both 
science and history in embryo. By reading those texts 
against our current imderstanding of nature and society, 
we come to see the unavoidable conditions of our exist- 
ence here. The New Testament alone defines what it 
means to be a free individual, rooted in the natural and so- 
cial environments but transcending them. Each man, as 
his own priest in his own vocation, has to work out those 
insights concretely for himself. By cooperative effort we do 
the jobs called for by the revolution. 

Most vocations don't carry their final meaning in 
themselves. The farmer, businessman, workman produce 
things to sustain life; the doctor, social worker maintain it 
against threats. For what purpose? The actual meaning of 
life lies in the symbolic forms which define it. The poet is 
called the maker par excellence. The poetry behind us 
says that a plastic force beyond matter and energy calls 
things into being by a word. The act of naming — self- 
definition, celebrating — is what the others exist for, the 
principal employment of Eden. 

Language, the word, is the business of us all. The 
spirit or breath of wisdom that all our works should be 


done in finds its primary task in speaking the word which 
guides all the others. Literature is the center of education; 
it's the light which makes the trades, arts, sciences, profes- 
sions transparent of humanity. 

In the new community building up around us, each 
man from his own learning and experience helps formu- 
late goals for himself and others. Our solidarity in what 
we call the Church is our confidence that others, drawing 
from the same wells, have the same trust in us as we in 
them. Without the need of interminable conferences, by 
our built-in unity of goal we're workers on one team. 

Most of our errors are ignorance; we manage to over- 
look the record which shows other people in textbook 
fashion falling into the trap which lies in front of us. The 
statesman, whether Establishment or revolutionary, can 
only operate by manipulation of men and movements. 
The real revolution happens w^hen poets are the acknowl- 
edged legislators of mankind. Not a Vergil but an Augustus 
builds an oppressive empire; not an Archbishop but a Fox 
builds a new community. As we pass through our appren- 
ticeship we come face to face with po^ver, the heart of the 
dark forces, and ^\e realize we can't beat it at its own game 
of coercion. We can only help people get organized 
through the powerlessness of the word. The legions of Be- 
elzebub are supreme in their own non-realm; the chains 
by which they've bound mankind don't fall except by the 
folly of preaching. Community is only built through the 
unconditional demand for justice, which in the end goes 
beyond all politics. 

chapter SEVEN 

The Demand 
for Justice: 
Going Beyond Power 

So far as individuals or families trust each other, 
they're organized by voluntary agreement into 
community. So far as they don't, they're organized by 
coercion into the State; a majority or large minority is 
oppressed. The first step towards community is the de- 
mand to restore justice for the oppressed. Since trust and 
distrust will continue, our organization will contain el- 
ements of both coercion and freedom. Of course they don't 
stand on the same level, and some adjustments between 
them are more desirable than others. 

The Impotence and Danger of Power 

Coercion is a more pervasive element of our world 
than choice; but we can't be so clear that it's actually exer- 
cised by somebody. The agents of coercion do what they 
do because they're told to by their superiors, or by the 
tradition of their fellows. The head of the department has 
to reckon with those traditions; with the politicians who 
shield certain interests; with influential pressure-groups. 


Coercion isn't willed by one man and can't be altered by 
one man; it's just there, like the law of gravity. Its first vic- 
tim is the man who thinks he exercises it. 

An individual works himself up in the hierarchy of 
coercion by following certain rules: recognition of his 
powerlessness to change things, willingness to go along 
with the system. You can't speak about a moral or im- 
moral man in this context, but only about a strong or weak 
man. The strong man is consistent about responding to 
pressures from various directions, and so gravitates into 
top positions. The weak man wobbles — maybe he's just 
stupid. Society gets precisely the police and administrators 
it bargains for, who respond like a seismograph to minute 
shifts of mass. If a man wants to reform the police, chief of 
police is the last office he should run for. 

The President of the United States is essentially pow- 
erless. Robert Kennedy's account of the Cuban missile cri- 
sis shows the impotence of his brother and Khrushchev, 
going through foreordained military and diplomatic ritu- 
als. We do want a strong man as President, to register 
accurately the pressures acting on him without cracking, 
so that we have something to rely on. If he gets impris- 
oned by the military and Intelligence, or by his party, the 
system becomes unstable through the automatic reaction 
of the slighted groups. But the individual voter can't do 
anything even to get the strong man in. Any other aims of 
a man besides ambition in running for President are irrel- 
evant. Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, very different in style, 
were all ruthless, industrious, ambitious — and powerless. 
The war, the deterioration of the cities, space exploration 
ran their apparently destined courses, independent of 
these men's policies — or lack of them. 

As you go further down the ladder to a Congressman 


or administrative appointee, some offices permit true ele- 
ments of choice and influence on policy: being a watchdog 
of civil rights, an advocate of reform. On this level politi- 
cal pressures are only partial; provided the man satisfies 
his constituents in certain areas, he's free to be himself in 
others. But just because he'd like to end a war, patch up 
the city, dismantle the missiles, doesn't mean he can do it. 
Not much change will be accomplished through Congress- 
men whose constituencies (and therefore their own views) 
differ only fractionally from the ruling elite. The biggest 
potentially deviant constituencies here are of blacks, per- 
haps youth— certainly not yet women. It would be wildly 
unrealistic to think of running for Congress as a sheep in 
wolf's clothing. The most hopeful politics is a straight-out 
radical campaign. But the biggest influences for change in 
the sixties came from quite outside the constitutional 

The growth of technology as communications gave 
the poor a new knowledge of their own strength; as 
affluence, it gave them hopes it's impossible to deny. Es- 
tablishment political theory lays it down as dogma that the 
biggest threat is always from anarchic forces of disorder — 
Vikings, Turks, bikies, militants, hippies, Commies. Its 
claimed first concern is to legitimate a central authority 
which can impose law and order. Only then will it appeal 
to the morality or interests of the rulers to mitigate their 
use of authority. 

In older times, the damage which could be done by 
any leader of men, however charismatic and perverse, was 
limited; both nature and society absorbed all the blows he 
could give it. Bubonic plague was a greater threat. Today 
in a number of countries, offices staffed by robot bureau- 
crats hold the power to damage permanently the whole 


planetary living system. What we have to fear isn't the raw 
power of anarchic rootless masses, but those rationalizing 
technical procedures, operating through impersonal insti- 
tutions, which have replaced all personal centers of au- 

Oppressed groups hardly anywhere threaten to take 
over the governing system as such, but only to amputate 
its illegitimate extensions, the pseudopods of the world- 
amoeba. Still the System cynically creates the fear that if 
power is taken from the hands of the moderate humane 
civilized men who now exercise it, after a period of anar- 
chy it will fall to unbalanced passionate militants who will 
impose a reign of terror. A second Hitler — this time with 
nuclear weapons at his disposal. Of course, something 
worse than the present can always be imagined. But the 
time to cry out against murder, the place where we need to 
be most on guard against Hitlerism, is never the future 
but the present. 

Russia is a threat to world community today, not be- 
cause she's undergone a revolution, but because she hasn't, 
she continues Czarist oppression in industrial format. 
America is a threat, not because she represents something 
new but something old: European racist imperialism with 
different techniques. If China becomes a serious threat, it 
will be because in her externally imposed isolation she 
couldn't break the habit of bureaucracy. 

Our Provisional Commitment to Politics 

Our commitment to any political goals must always 
be provisional. For the goals will be partial, with their 
own element of injustice; also they will be further com- 


promised in the process of moving towards them. That 
doesn't mean we shouldn't be committed. Before any glo- 
bal action for conservation, before any step to inner 
integrity, must first come our response to the demand for 
justice. Working for justice is so critical a problem pre- 
cisely because we're not sure ho\v to go about it. But we'd 
better not let that doubt paralyze us into a twin of the 
complacency which pretends there isn't any problem. Bet- 
ter a provisional passionate commitment to a political fail- 
ure than no commitment. The means of our politics may 
appear nonpolitical; but the ends must always be revolu- 
tionary, recognizing each injustice, old and new, and over- 
throwing it as fast as possible. 

Precisely as a result of our adherence, the formerly 
oppressed group may gain real power. Since we're all of 
one nature, that group will have the same temptation as 
its predecessors: using its new power to oppress other 
groups in turn. Since every growth has its roots, its misuse 
of power springs from the very beginnings of the revolu- 
tionary struggle, however disinterested or quixotic its 
cause then seemed. 

Other commitments are directed towards a perma- 
nent human or natural object — a wife, a forest, a body of 
learning. But our commitment to justice can never take 
any political institution for granted. The corruption of 
politics makes politics the most religious of occupations, 
where it's necessary always to have in mind a transcendent 
object with no adequate representation in history. Beyond 
every application of justice here, we're pushed back to an 
overriding principle of justice which by the facts of the 
case can't be embodied in any human institution. 

Any particular legal system deserves our provisional 


assent as an effort to embody justice on one level. But the 
sanction of any legal system is coercion; it will always be 
used by the class in power to strengthen itself and put 
down any possible competitors. Our partial assent to the 
law of man also forces us beyond it into an absolute assent 
to what may be called the law of God. 

Augustine asked if it was proper for a man to sit as 
judge and pass sentence; he gave the answer Yes. So far as 
I know he didn't adequately realize the corruption of the 
legal system in its own terms. We who do, must give a dif- 
ferent answer. A man may sit if (i) in day-by-day decisions 
he can carry out substantially better justice than a less con- 
scientious man; and (2) if he takes the sting out of his 
complicity with the massive injustice remaining by using 
the leverage of his judgeship to work for judicial reform. 
But for a man who has agreed this far to work with the 
corrupt system there can't be any vacation, any sleep. 

In general, any job (say, a policeman's) within a 
warped structure is justifiable just so far as we can use it to 
start straightening the distortion. If our day-by-day work 
necessarily involves us in deep complicity, our usefulness 
for reform is destroyed in advance, we haven't got any le- 
verage. We needn't worry about the positions falling va- 
cant, there will always be policemen and judges. If the 
policeman is essentially a pawn, so that neither a kindly 
nor a sadistic man on the job changes the character of the 
work done, this is no place to waste our kindliness. For we 
can always choose to work for change through a vocation 
which isn't so fatally handicapped. 

As a matter of fact, power operating through law 
today mostly carries out the will of a demonic System, 
overruling the merits of the persons who fill its positions. 


An idealist is trapped where a cynic is at home. For the 
idealist is forced to pretend that he's acting out of prin- 
ciple when he's acting out of necessity. And then, instead 
of justifying his actions as conditional necessities of state, 
he justifies them as absolute necessities of morality. 

When injustice is being done to a group inside the 
System, we can work actively to help it without attributing 
exclusive virtue to its claims. Liberal intellectuals rightly 
supported the labor movement between the two World 
Wars. But today, with improvement in the status of labor, 
the principal injustices done by the System are to groups 
which don't form part of it. 

The instinctive first step towards justice is normally 
to exercise the limited violence for good which we were 
taught — except this time on behalf of the oppressed over 
against the Establishment. But as we reflect back on our 
Establishment past, we can see that both sides are the same 
species and will fall into the same traps. There doesn't 
seem to be any way now of keeping the family fight down 
to the old-fashioned level, which may bruise some limbs 
but is guaranteed not to pull the house down. 

So we go on repeating to the System the warning of 
ancient wisdom to beware of presumptuous arrogance — 
with less and less confidence that our warning will be 
heard. Meanwhile we struggle, if necessary through that 
same System, towards means of control for the \iolence 
against the environment which has priced itself out of the 
international market, a luxury not the richest can afford. 
Frustrated there also, we transfer our political task to pro- 
visional support for the most hopeful revolutionary move- 
ments, and try to humanize and moderate their methods 
by our presence. At the same time we renew our absolute 


commitment to building a nonpolitical revolution of vol- 
untary community. Jacques Ellul defines our fundamental 
working principle: to abandon the revolution as soon as it 
succeeds, and go over to the side of the new class of the op- 

By all signs, the United States is in for a basic change 
in the way it does things — a second American Revolution. 
Bloody or not? Blacks, hippies, students here are as deeply 
identified as they could be with their Vietnamese brothers 
and sisters. If Viet Nam is part of America, enough blood 
has been shed to glut any theorist of revolution. 

Even in face of a likely right-wing reaction, I suppose 
we should be hoping and working for a change in America 
that would: do actual justice to blacks and other minori- 
ties; recognize student power; take over some corporate 
monopolies; modify the policy of intervention overseas; 
develop a safeguard of trust and then dismantle missile- 
installations; end the draft and political repression; repeal 
marijuana laws; control insecticides. And even those 
modest demands, which just begin to touch our deeper 
alienation, sound wildly Utopian. 

But in any case white and black revolutionaries here 
will remain very much children of the American System. 
Their tactics are the realistic exercise of violence which 
they've been taught by the practice of their elders, or by 
the theology of a Reinhold Niebuhr. They will share with 
their forerunners the illusion that full control over one's 
society is possible and desirable. After the State has been 
replaced or changed — certainly with new pretensions, per- 
haps not so intractable as before — nearly all the critical 
jobs will remain to be completed by free persons in 
voluntary community. 


The Transcending of Power 

So long as we continue to operate solely in the politi- 
cal realm, we have to keep assessing greater and lesser in- 
justice. But our study of history could still convince us, in 
the most pragmatic political terms, that even an appar- 
ently "just" war of liberation was an actual step towards 
global nuclear war. In that case its justice would become 
some kind of mirage in the light of ultimate expediency. 

There may be a way of lessening both injustice and 
the likelihood of atomic war which doesn't lie along the 
route of politics. It would mean renouncing the effort to 
reconstruct society as a whole from positions of power; the 
current rulers of the State would be left where they are. 
Instead: organizing people without coercion. We have no 
idea how far this mode of organization could be extended, 
reducing the damage done by the State while letting it stay 
in power. Never before have the penalties of failure been 
so great or so obvious. By the nature of the effort, an at- 
tempt at noncoercive organization can't increase the vi- 
olence-level, at worst it can only fail; at all times it's worth 
a try. 

We shall never lack candidates for the White House 
or episcopal sees. The business of politicians is making 
compromises; we can leave that up to them, we needn't 
butt into their business. Our cue is to present them with 
the whole package, the best way we can see it, of what's re- 
quired by love, by justice, by survival. The more healthy 
currents there are at work in our society, the better 
politicians we're likely to get; but it's not one of the things 


we can work for directly. This must be what Paul meant 
by saying that the ruler was appointed by God. We do our 
thing, and take what Providence supplies. Politics is in- 
curably ambiguous. Definitive political affirmations apply 
only to the realm of our final citizenship. Paradoxically, 
only through that realm can the historic nations of the 
planet be held back from self-destruction. 

A Road Not Taken: 
Removing the Missile-Threat 

Even more ominous than the current scenes of actual 
violence is the double missile screen bracketing the North 
Pole, together with Polaris submarines and other deploy- 
ments. Our military expenditures, our foreign policy are 
designed around the fear and threat of using those sys- 
tems. If military spending were reduced, Forman's half 
billion could be seen for the peanuts it is. The one biggest 
security we could win for the planet would be the cer- 
tainty that neither Russia nor America would intention- 
ally set off their missiles. A discussion of alternatives will 
illustrate the possibility of transcending power. If the 
balance of terror were removed, the missiles could start 
being dismantled. They don't need to be replaced by a 
hundred percent foolproof system; they're not absolutely 
foolproof themselves. 

This isn't the Utopianism of unilateral disarmament 
or World Federalism, but a hope which, pushed hard 
enough by voluntary agencies, could possibly be endorsed 
by atavistic governments. If anybody wants to know why 
so many people have given up on our leaders as criminals 


or fools, let him recollect that during the whole anti- 
ballistic-missile debate no influential voice was raised to 
suggest an alteiiiati\ e to the whole preventive lunacy. 

Instead of the present system of conflicting interests, 
what is needed is a system of identical interests. The sim- 
plest way would be at all times to have so many Americans 
in Russia, and so many Russians here, that neither govern- 
ment could strike the other, from the certainty of the 
death or imprisonment of those hostages. Both sides 
would be much more careful not to have missiles go off ac- 
cidentally, knowing their own citizens were on target. The 
initiative for peace which we like to claim would be pre- 
served if we offered to fund the entire program. We would 
simply both send students to the other country, with re- 
turn visas valid when the total of a million on each side 
had been built up. It would be money well spent, unlike 
that on missile folly. The same procedure, unlike missile- 
deployment, would be flexible enough for adaptation to 
Soviet-Chinese hostility. A fixed percent annual turnover 
of persons would be written in, so that neither govern- 
ment could write off the absentees as disloyal emigrants. 

Why hasn't it been started already? Our dismay at 
the current technology, bureaucracy, modes of decision- 
making is that they look for the icrong kind of solutions to 
problems. W^hen faced with mutual suspicion of America 
and Russia after World War II. neither set of planners 
tried to deal with it by diplomacy, movements of old- 
fashioned persons. Instead they used enormous amounts of 
brainpower to create technology which vastly increased 
the suspicions. Each side in its own thinking bears more 
responsibility, since each claims to be the open and inno- 
vative system. 


The Cross as Sacrament of Power 

We talk as if the dilemma between Establishment vio- 
lence and revolutionary violence was a discovery of our 
own, to which traditional beliefs must adapt themselves 
and give a radically new answer. But our traditional 
beliefs consist precisely in the affirmation that the di- 
lemma has already been resolved. S. G. Brandon's Jesus 
and the Zealots, a book making some splash among Chris- 
tian revolutionaries, conclusively proves what should 
never have been doubted or forgotten, that most of Jesus' 
associates had long been members of a revolutionary guer- 
rilla movement. Brandon is less successful in doing away 
with the unanimous evidence of the Gospels that Jesus 
found a different line to take; in discovering the real au- 
thor of the pacifism which he has the Evangelists ascribe to 
Jesus; or in explaining why this executed Messianic claim- 
ant should have been remembered rather than another. 

In fact the Gospels in the most literal way possible 
give the cue for our action over against both exploitation 
and revolution. The breaking and restoration of all the or- 
ders simultaneously are seen in an execution carried out 
by the imperial power: the one uniquely free individual, 
the representative of the oppressed poor, expected as Son 
of Man to restore the biological order of Eden. The Gos- 
pels show individuals as responsible — Caiaphas, Herod, 
Pilatus. Paul sees them in turn as agents of demonic forces 
ignorant of the hidden wisdom of God; 'Tor if they had 
known it. they would not have executed the lord of splen- 
dor" (I Cor. 2: 18). Those Powers have infiltrated the 


State so deeply that one Caesar can only be overthrown by 
another, and we may just as well give the Caesar we've got 
what belongs to him. 

The new vision was the possibility of a counter- 
organization of society based not on coercion but volun- 
tary adherence: the thing which Jesus has no name for but 
simply illustrates and builds, which Paul names the 
Church. Its ideology was verified through its anchor in the 
remotest past — its conviction that Law and Prophets 
pointed to the new organization. Likewise around the 
world today, the work of prophets and of Jesus together 
make up our lever on the past. Both then and now, the 
agreed-on literary text and historical event behind us gen- 
erate in our scattered communities common forms of art, 
liturgy, polity, sexuality, direct action. 

The meaning of the ancient city, which produced 
those texts and events, is a local pattern for planetary com- 
munity. If agriculture was an enterprise conceived in the 
first village units of food-gatherers, the city preceded the 
farm, and remains the center for global management. The 
model can never cut itself off sharply from the surround- 
ing territory; in every age the bearer of the future is the 
man who carries the new discoveries of that community 
into the next outer circle. Studying foreign languages is 
the basic symbol of our true internationalism, and it's 
scandalous that hardly any Americans except CIA agents 
know Vietnamese. 

The proclamation of the Gospel — the interruption of 
all other programs for a special announcement that the 
Liberated Zone of love is at hand — affirms that no dilem- 
mas are insoluble; we never find ourselves in a moral box. 
The apparent contradiction between the necessity of rev- 


olution, and the certainty that (as Jim Bevel says) murder 
is no revolution, just points to the reality that revolution 
must be somewhere else. We are supposed to beat revolu- 
tionaries at their own game — that is, to join them in their 
condemnation of injustice, and to see injustice also in 
whatever methods they've taken over from the enemy. 

The Marxist theory of the withering away of the State 
is correct in the sense that its functions must gradually be 
taken over by noncoercive organizations. It's false in the 
sense that if the State withers away obviously, a successor 
State will rush into the vacuum. Our cue is to leave it 
there, enjoying affluence and prestige, discouraging com- 
petitors of the same sort; and simultaneously to draw its 
teeth, to move people from inside it effectively to another 
place, reducing the power of that Gulliver to trample peo- 
ple by tying him hand and foot with a thousand gentle 
threads, to confuse and disarm him with love. 

The true unofficial ambassadors of the city dispense 
with its passports and weapons, going out on their task of 
organizing the next adjacent province. That control can 
only be exercised through the paradoxical means of non- 
self-assertion; in no other way will its claim to universality 
be generally acceptable. As soon as we push the principles 
of any politics through to their end, they overthrow its an- 
nounced aims in favor of more inclusive ones. Unlike 
every other art or science, politics dissolves itself without 
residue and points beyond itself to another sphere. The 
only invincible weapon, the sacrament of politics, is the 
Cross; the sole ultimately viable community is the 
Church. The scapegoat liberator suffers in the wilderness 
outside the city for the city's benefit; his humiliation is the 
ultimate definition of politics. What has been called the 


death of God is the discovery that fulfilment is achieved 
through powerlessness. 

Nonviolence as Unique Principle 
of Community 

Because of our defects in solidarity with the op- 
pressed, by the time we come over to their side they've al- 
ready hit on a partly violent solution. Our guilt requires 
us to assent provisionally to their violence, as in some 
sense embodying justice, while still trying to mitigate it. 
Their violence corresponds to our tardiness. For where a 
people's cry for justice has found an adequate leader from 
the very beginning, he can exercise pure nonviolence. As 
justice to the biological environment consists in letting it 
be itself, so justice to our brother consists in letting him 
be himself. 

The Church as we see it has been recast in the plastic 
mold of that State which to save its credibility has mur- 
dered millions of our brothers. Its current form is a web of 
competing assertions of ecclesiastical power, draining off 
the energy which should go into actual work. If we think 
to leave it to wither on the vine over there, it still claims a 
monopoly on the symbolic forms which we need to oper- 
ate by. We've got to go and reclaim our inheritance by 
reorganizing the current heirs, however unpromising they 
may seem. That necessary reunion and renewal can only 
be effected by the Cross, in a renunciation of rival claims 
and of competition with the State, through a joint recogni- 
tion of powerlessness. 

The State, in the grip of demonic forces, is blind. Still 


it senses in the Church a threat to its claimed monopoly 
on human organization. It alternates between trying to 
lick the Church and trying to join it; persecution is fol- 
lowed by establishment. In one mood, the Powers tell us 
that voluntary assent is a mirage, and our only choice is to 
come over and humanize their coercion. In another mood 
they congratulate us on our discovery; and then come over 
and introduce their coercion into the Church, turning it 
into one more department of State. The Church character- 
istically makes the mistake of fighting the last war instead 
of this one. The push for a secular Christianity today is 
the last gasp of the Reformation; the big enemy is still 
seen as a coercive self-centered Church. But that enemy is 
dead. The real enemy is our temptation to join the State 
in its enterprise, instead of carrying out our proper and 
different enterprise. 

The task of our time, to Avhich the Church has the 
only adequate clues, is to create a web of voluntary non- 
coercive relations as a counter-organization of human soci- 
ety over against the States — -and their house-organ the 
United Nations. Of course a lot of what claims to be the 
Church is really the State; and a lot of what really is the 
Church goes under different names or none. The Beast has 
his claws so deep in us that we have to mobilize all our re- 
sources to burn out his mark from our forehead. 

Our love can't be satisfied with anything less than a 
declaration of sacred war against the Establishment — that 
paradoxical campaign which alone can be called defensive 
or just. We are to put on the complete guerrilla outfit of 
truth. Only our newly found unity in the radical Jesus 
will give us a fighting chance to persevere. Even so, many 
are likely to fall — especially those struggling in the dark 


with mixed-up orders. The two things which will most 
commend recruitment in our army are the services we per- 
form for the victims of war, and the dignity with which we 
submit to our own casualty status. Performing and ac- 
cepting ministry are the two sides of the coin which is the 
genuine human stamp, held together by the solidarity in 
which we bear one another's burdens. 

chapter EIGHT 

The Demand to Help: 
Waiting on Table 

We identify with another person by casting him 
in the closest role inside our family, as substitute 
father, son, wife, sister, uncle. Our relationship acquires 
reality either by our joint work on some team, or through 
some modification of sexuality. It reflects the emotions and 
tensions of my family; likewise, as in the family, I see 
through the relation what I was once or will be. 

In particular, one man gets under another's skin as 
substitute brother; comrade, master, or apprentice, de- 
pending on age. If I find myself diminished or shrivelled 
by the identification, I'm seeing my brother as victim and 
suffering with him. If I feel a block in the identification, 
he enters into the peculiar relation of being my enemy; in- 
stead of the fraternal support of David and Jonathan, I 
feel the rivalry of Cain and Abel. 

The Need for Subordination 

My perception of the brother as enemy reveals a fault 
in myself. If our analysis of history is correct, we should be 
persuaded that the enemy's side will lose and that our side 
will win. If he threatens us even so, it's a sign we've left 


out some important consideration, for which we should be 
thankful to him. But if we've truly done our homework, 
we should see in the enemy one more casualty of the Sys- 
tem, deprived by it of his manhood. It's just that he 
doesn't know it and resists awareness. 

The enemy is a special kind of victim. The suburb is 
a ghetto victimized by frustration and fear, and can send 
out distress-signals only through its children. The power- 
ful are the object of hatred, mostly justified, from all 
around the world. There isn't any standard by which they 
can be called successful or fulfilled human beings. 

We have the options of rejecting or accepting identifi- 
cation with the helpless victim. So far as we're afraid of 
sinking to his level, we reject him and become his enemy, 
striking him down with our heel to increase the distance 
between us. Almost every white person in America is 
objectively racist; he maintains inviolate some refuge, so- 
cial or vocational, from which the black is excluded. 
Seeing the injustice of his own side, he knows that in strict 
fairness a complete reversal of positions is called for. He's 
afraid that the first step towards righting the wrong would 
set that whole wheel turning; and so he's not before taking 
the step. 

This complicity is only overcome through enforcing 
the identification by an act of will. This obviously means 
helping the victim — treating him as a blood brother, as we 
in empathy would like to be treated. The "altruism" of 
the Golden Rule is the conclusion of a syllogism, whose 
premises are our own needs and the solidarity of the race. 
Built into our makeup is the demand to be permitted ser- 
vice. Essential to its reality is that we should have some- 
thing to help the victim with, we don't come empty- 


We have our own world: our kids who like to go on 
walks and bring home frogs' eggs; our students who want 
to know what we've read; people we like to sing with. If 
we haven't got anything to bring the victim from that 
world, where is the reality in our offer to be his servant? 
Great men have fallen into this trap. Albert Schweitzer 
still maintained a bush hospital when Africans wanted 
medical centers: he didn't offer them the things he lived 
for, Bach and Biblical criticism. Through his partial fail- 
ure we may judge the authenticity of our service. If the 
victim asks for revolution, we'll at least try to redistribute 
land. And we can be sure that he's also asking to give us 
something — in any case, the meaning of his suffering. 

The System feels a threat in our demand to help — a 
deep relationship which bypasses its mode of operation. So 
it makes the conditions of service unpleasant and leaches 
out ideological content. Social workers are underpaid and 
overloaded; subjected to harrassing regulations, like their 
clients; forced to spend half their time writing reports un- 
der the county official who has graciously allowed them the 
privilege of service. They're not allowed to share anything 
valuable with the client — common artistic projects, friend- 
ship, study, religious or political activities. No wonder 
there's a high casualty rate among workers. The sensitive 
break down after a few years, make a mess of their own 
lives, become exhausted or cynical. Worse yet for all par- 
ties if they adjust to the job by becoming hard-boiled. 

Alternatively, the System co-opts service for its own 
ends. The Peace Corps sends young people with a desire 
for service off to foreign lands that the State Department is 
interested in, for a period short enough to keep them from 
becoming a revolutionary force there. But nobody antici- 
pated the radicalizing effect on the young people, who on 


their return can't enter conventional vocations, and be- 
come a revolutionary force here. The Government over- 
reached itself in exposing them to reality. We now hear 
talk about universal youth training, centered of course on 
military "service" — as if the art of killing bore some rela- 
tionship to the figure of the waiter at table. 

Chaplaincy as the Corruption of Service 

The co-option of service is perfected in chaplaincy. 
The chaplain's clients are inmates of a place of involun- 
tary servitude: a boys' school, a prison, an old folks' home, 
an army, a mental institution, a juvenile hall. The chap- 
lain is dispensed by the warden from any prior vows w^hich 
imply an authority superior to the institution. In return 
for permission to make impersonal contact ^vith his 
charges under supervision, and to help them circumvent 
minor regulations, he's assigned his real role as spiritual 
policeman: maintaining discipline, inculcating the spirit 
of the institution, building morale. When relatives or re- 
porters ask about conditions in the punishment compound 
or infirmary, the chaplain is available as front man. 

The American middle class is middle class because it 
instinctively pays that deference to the System which 
penal institutions must enforce. A widespread seminary 
joke (and dream) is a call for the ministry to the overpri- 
vileged. Not surprising then that it shares all features of 
chaplaincy but coercion. The military-industrial complex 
maintains the housing development as its place of involun- 
tary servitude. More and more the once invisible stockade 
separating it from the ghetto is marked with real barbed 


wire. Its plan from the beginning provided for denomina- 
tional churches of appropriate architecture and well- 
indoctrinated chaplains, to soften the private blows of life, 
and to keep the inmates of the magnolia compound ad- 
justed, efficient, ignorant, and guilty. 

Even as we work to destroy exploitation in the future, 
we must patch up its damage in the present. But service 
can never be politically neutral. While our political parti- 
sanship must always be provisional, it must also be ex- 
plicit. Even the alleged services of the chaplain are in the 
end phony; neither the military resister nor the boarding- 
school rebel consults him. Rather than try to convert him, 
we pull strings for radical clergy to visit the disenfran- 
chised in military stockades or youth-prisons, and publi- 
cize what they find. Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan 
did what decades of preaching had failed at: they nigger- 
ized white moralists so that they could say truly, "We are 
all street people; we are all Viet Cong." Only through nat- 
uralization in the ghetto and the colony do we lay claim to 
our humanity; we're constituted by the black, the hippy. 

The warden finds the chaplain useful and contempti- 
ble; the terms of their relationship ensure that the chap- 
lain won't have a message for him. Only the Gospel agita- 
tor has a chance of getting through. Another time he's 
likely to show up as inmate; the depth of his influence de- 
pends on his consistency in the two roles. Only he can get 
through the elephant-hide and bring the sword of the 
Spirit to the violent oppressor — of all men most oppressed 
by his own violence. Only the radical independent is free 
enough to treat the men with revolvers not as pigs but as 

If the Man is denying basic human needs to the op- 


pressed — food, clothing, shelter, medicine — in Biafra or 
Berkeley, then the agitator goes out with those necessities. 
But at a certain point he realizes that he's working for the 
authorities, who rely on him to cool it for them. As politi- 
cal consciousness increases among the oppressed — partly as 
a result of his own presence — a point comes where they 
still ask him for those needs, but despise him if he offers 
nothing more. Now he must find something else to give 
them; only his own motivation is good enough in the end. 

The Waiter at Table 

The central novelty introduced by Jesus was making 
the type of human merit the waiter at table, the diakonos. 
From the Latin names of the servant and slave come the 
words by which we generalize this notion, ministry and 
service. He so sees himself, "I am among you as one that 
serves," and is seen by others, "taking the form of a slave." 
His way means willingness to feed the hungry and give the 
child a cup of water. He is credited with indefinite powers 
to feed people and provide drink. Unquestionably he had 
indefinite powers of curing psychosomatic diseases; the 
record provides little which resembles invention. Espe- 
cially plausible is the slight importance he is shown as at- 
taching to these powers. 

In his absolute respect for the neighbor, he sees 
corporal works of mercy as pointing to a new transaction 
between the hidden power of history and each individual, 
where he is only the catalyst. For the first time, people 
were taking on the human shape intended from the begin- 
ning. His final service is giving them a name for that new 


state of affairs. He puts them on exactly the same level as 
himself, making no secret of his own motivation. Each is 
to go out in turn and take on the same role of servant. 
With the same order of priorities: they also are to heal 
and feed, but above all convey their own understanding of 
that mission. 

The good news of which they're heralds is that 
human fulfilment in community comes by the act of ser- 
vice. And conversely; the highest service lies in the act of 
announcing none other than that good news. In one series 
of teachings the beneficiary is the anonymous and proba- 
bly thankless victim. In another series he is the enemy — 
who as we've seen is also victimized by his own violence. 
In a world of hardened enmities, nothing short of actual 
reconciliation will do. 

No religion less priestly than this. Reversal of hier- 
archy runs through the whole record. No individual or 
group is pre-eminent. Texts of shaky authenticity point to 
one Peter or a Twelve as pronouncers of forgiveness. A 
text of higher authority makes the duty and power of for- 
giveness universal: 'Torgive us our oppressions to the ex- 
tent that we have forgiven our oppressors." The harlots 
and quislings go into the area of liberation ahead of reli- 
gious leaders. When we finally find a passage where 
leaders are being appointed, what are the conditions of 
their leadership? They're the ones who are regularly seen 
washing their brothers' feet, "He who is great among you 
shall be the least. " The one sign of pre-eminence is subor- 

So the Messianic status of Jesus was the fact that a 
prostitute anointed him for death. Paul agrees that the 
central item of Jesus' "ministry" was neither his symbolic 


actions nor his carefully assembled words, but his destined 
death. Still there must come a class of men (very likely the 
least important of all) with a traditional literary educa- 
tion, who do the verbal communicating that's also needed, 
naming what others are doing. To this class alone in the 
usage of later generations the title of "ministry" has stuck. 
It's true that their subordination is also the only role which 
their teacher claims for himself; by their unimportance 
they have a closeness to him. In the paradoxes of modesty 
there's no place to speak of greater or lesser, but only of 
different functions in the one body. 

Today we realize uneasily that waiters, like taxicab 
drivers, are thinking about their tip; their availability is 
controlled by union regulations. Where shall we find the 
servant? The friendly bartender doubles as bouncer; the 
available psychiatrist marks down his thirty-five bucks an 
hour. The only person who puts himself unreservedly at 
the service of others is the clown. The brash repartee with 
which he cons us out of our spare change is only part of 
the act. Like the waiter he has a complicated routine 
which it takes a lifetime to master. Shakespeare learned 
from some sacral tradition that only the Fool could be the 
chorus of the tragedy; but who told America that every 
circus must have its clown? He's the last prophet with im- 
munity to prick the follies and crimes of the powerful. 

The Problem of Leadership 

The need for clear lines of leadership in any organiza- 
tion is obvious. Equally persuasive is the radical way the 
Gospel overthrows our accustomed notions of leadership. 


It's a problem of maximum difficulty to adjust the claims 
of organization and of the Spirit without falling into 
either anarchy or papacy. The difficulty isn't arbitrary. 
Both as a theoretical and a practical problem, it's the hard- 
est first step in embodying the new way into an actual 
community. Here if anywhere can we be confident that 
we're dealing with the breakage of orders at the root. We 
can say in advance that any alleged form of ministry must 
constantly be justifying its existence. When one fails to, as 
it will from time to time, the actual place of ministry will 
move elsewhere. There isn't any external sign other than 
itself that it can certainly be recognized by. 

The most primitive form of community, gathering 
food or making war or opening up a cave, presupposes 
leadership, a rudimentary politics. The final form of com- 
munity rejects the political leadership of coercion; it 
accepts the fact of leadership, but turns it upside down by 
making it a primacy in service. No legally defined office 
can guarantee its holder the reality of being a "servant of 
the servants of God"; Popes are where we find them. Since 
we must always hold back from supporting political lead- 
ers, all the more we need a kind of leadership which 
in principle we can accept without qualification. That 
doesn't prevent us from doubting the reliability of a par- 
ticular individual or institutionalized ministry; it does 
mean that the idea of ministry isn't flawed at the root like 
political leadership. 

The Twelve Apostles weren't Elders and they weren't 
ordained. They just set the example of the servant who 
washes the guests' feet, the volunteer who takes our place 
in the gas chamber. They're told that the same role is 
played wherever somebody casts out demons in the name 


of Jesus — a man's name being what defines his character. 
The cloudy Presbyters, Deacons, Bishops of the Apostolic 
Age were a good translation of the idea of ministry; but 
they were a translation, the thing which has to be done in 
every age. Ministry in our age is translated into the figure 
of Gandhi, the medical heroes of The Plague, this one and 
that one in whom we recognize it. The only valid Apos- 
tolic Succession is the history of love. Whatever commu- 
nity we finally anchor in will be found to have authentic 
roots in that history. 

The Gospels radically overthrow all ecclesiastical pre- 
tensions; the only authenticity of ministry is faithfulness 
to the pattern of service in Jesus. The enormous 
breakthrough of the Ecumenical Movement, which we're 
just beginning to appreciate, is that any claim to ministry 
can be presumed in advance legitimate. Mutal subordina- 
tion is the ministry shared by the human race; it's the only 
way we can put the orders back together again, starting 
with society. The genuineness of any ordination is the 
clarity with which it illustrates that universal ordination. 
Any ministry is as valid as it chooses. 

In the first centuries of the Church, the biggest prob- 
lem was a claim to legitimacy by mythological syncretistic 
cults promising a private salvation. To meet them, it was 
important for the ministry to trace its authority back in 
time through a continuity of teaching to the Apostles. 
From Constantine through the Middle Ages, the authority 
of the ministry as a matter of practice rested on political 
authentication in the present by a hierarchical society. 
The Reformers judged a church and its ministry by the 
fidelity of its preaching the Epistle to the Romans; and, 
in the case of Calvin, by its conformity to a (precariously) 


reconstructed New Testament pattern of church-organiza- 
tion. Over against this archaeological claim to restore a 
forgotten past, the Catholic Church alleged a continuity of 
ordination back to the Apostles. But all parties were in the 
unconscious trap of asking for a sort of validity parallel to 
that of the new nations. Only the radical Reformation sects 
and their successors tried to break loose into conformity 
with the actual circumstances of the New Testament. 

The Ecumenical Movement was made possible 
through the breakdown of the alliance between Church 
and State invented by Constantine. Since the Church is no 
longer integrated into the State's legal system, the ministry 
no longer has to present its legal qualifications. When po- 
litical powers are contending for control of the State, it's a 
life-and-death matter that individuals should be given 
guidance about recognizing the correct one. The valida- 
tion of political regimes — of course by a legal system of 
their own creation — is their essence. When the State relied 
on one or more captive churches to give it legitimacy, the 
same notion of validity w^as automatically applied to them 

Now that Christendom is again a community set over 
against the State, as when it was born, each of these stand- 
ards for an authentic ministry can be used where it works. 
The Church now being liberated will recognize a continu- 
ity with everything good in its past — particularly with the 
succession of saints. It will let its forms be influenced by 
the political structures to which it has most commitment 
— namely, revolutionary ones. With the Reformers, it will 
judge its message by conformity to the New Testament. 
But not (like the official Reformation) in Paul's interpre- 
tation; rather (like the radical Reformation) in the words 


of Jesus. It will also look to the New Testament for the 
form of ministry; not as a fixed hierarchy of offices (which 
can't be found there), but as conformity to the non-self- 
assertion of Jesus. 

Today any group that claims to be a Christian com- 
munity should be accepted as such until proved otherwise. 
People aren't lining up to grab the coattails of the 
Church; what would be gained by a false claim to faith? So 
likewise the minister accepted by some community has an 
advance presumption in his favor. But society, in face of 
the threat which service presents to it, undercuts ministry 
by treating the servants as if they were masters through 
social-security exemptions, tax deductions, draft immu- 
nity, social perquisites. The claim to those benefits is the 
only warning signal against a purported ministry. 

Looking at the varieties of experimentation beside 
the dying trunk of the old churches, we can't tell yet 
which will be the main channels of the new sap. But we 
know in principle that if we do today's job, scattered 
efforts will in time cohere, new forms more adequate to 
renewal will spring up. With our new historical under- 
standing, \ve see that this was also how the Apostolic 
ministry won recognition. We can see how past ages of the 
Church stiffened impromptu administrative measures into 
absolutes. We understand too well how prophetic author- 
ity is institutionalized to be wholly unaware when it hap- 
pens again in our midst. Thus we move a step in self- 
knowledge beyond the Reformation. Institutional forms 
are more nearly under our control because we understand 
better their independent life. We'll be more cautious this 
time about attributing final validity to the forms which 
turn out correct for our age. 


The peculiar mixture of jobs, thought of as equally 
permanent, held by the American clergyman is an acci- 
dent of history which needn't last very much longer. Is 
there a good reason why a man should take on marriage- 
counselling as a lifetime vocation, or organizing the 
oppressed, or pulling drunks off streets, or maintain- 
ing architectural monuments? The exhausting genuine 
jobs would perhaps be better done with regular replace- 

Even among the jobs which imply lifetime training or 
commitment, we should allow wide variations how far 
they need be united in one person. In fact they're mostly 
separated today. For example. Learning in the Bible or 
church history: knowledge and love of the old languages, 
with the generalizing eye to see them mirrored in current 
experience. The prophetic voice: speaking the words 
which will isolate demonic forces and coordinate resist- 
ance to them. Pastor to the pastors: recognizing one's own 
dispensability, enabling colleagues to win actual inde- 
pendence, holding oneself available to help with the 
personal problems they can't solve for themselves. Cele- 
bration: the work of the poet and artist who find the right 
forms for contemporaries to praise existence. 

On these criteria, George Fox and John Bunyan (for 
example), with their irregular authorization, have the 
best possible claims to a valid ministry. As our problems 
are more far-reaching, we should expect the true ministry 
to our age to emerge from our experience with equal sur- 
prise and inevitability. If we ask what individual or body 
ordained the minister, we should be prepared to hear as 
from Paul that his ordination wasn't of man but of God. 


The Ministry of Women 

Charles Williams, operating with a sacrificial theory 
of the common meal, said that women were debarred from 
offering the blood of Christ symbolically because in the 
coinherence of the human race they offered it actually. 
Since the childbirth and care which only they can perform 
is a uniquely concrete form of service, it's less important 
to devise other forms for them than for men. Because the 
center of the Church's celebration is a dramatic represen- 
tation of what a man once did, propriety of casting will 
normally have it performed by a male. But female roles 
could be much more prominent in liturgical or guerrilla 
theatre on the model of the Christmas mysteries. If the 
pressure of exclusion is taken off, we should expect women 
to determine their own level in the universal ordination 
to service, with some functional specialization over against 
men, but also with considerable overlap. The mistake has 
been the assumption of Constantinian Christianity that 
there must be some one legally defined hierarchy of minis- 
ters, rather than the thing which Paul describes so clearly, 
a coordinated spectrum of talents. 

Problems of the Missionary 

From the viewpoint of the Third World, what ser- 
vices can be better provided by Westerners than by their 
own people? In the undeveloped Arab countries, there is 
room for tactful suggestions about agriculture, sanitation, 


medicine; for agitation against slavery, virtual or actual. 
In North \'^iet Nam, these things have been taken in hand 
along local lines; heavy industry is being supplied by So- 
cialist countries. But after the war, American radicals 
could help open up areas of political freedom within the 
new national unity. Others wall judge better what can be 
done in other lands. 

The most essential task has been barely defined: the 
cultural ambassador. Not as today setting up enclaves to 
disseminate an alien culture, a Goethe Institut or U.S. 
Information Service. I look to see urban planners analyz- 
ing village societies to see where we went wrong. Or biolo- 
gists, to study how traditional practice recycles raw ma- 
terials. Or Western monks going out for dialogue on 
the inner life. If the appearance of indigenous Eastern 
churches were in the cards as a result of such meetings, 
they would appear; no other kind of Oriental church is 
worth thinking about. 

Opening our convictions to other people raises the 
question: How do we avoid indoctrination, imposing our 
private or Western styles on others? First by making sure 
that our views are rooted in an objective analysis of real 
current needs, actual facts of nature and history. Then, by 
making sure that what we're recommending, even if possi- 
bly erroneous, is at least harmless. In the end we'll find 
ourselves saying, Harmlessness is truth. Not the passive 
harmlessness of the helpless victim or gagged liberal, but 
the active reconciling harmlessness for which another 
name is revolutionary nonviolence. This is just one more 
way of rephrasing the good news we've been entrusted 
with — which in the end must carry its authentication on 
its face. 


The World Community of Reconciliation 

Saul Alinsky, community organizer, observed that 
concrete service to obvious human need is the thing which 
legitimates any more radical action. We go around after 
the System picking up its pieces, taking the logic of its mis- 
takes more seriously than it does. This is a constructive way 
of expressing our solidarity with it in error. At the same 
time it prevents the System from wholly disowning us. Al- 
though it will fire us, beat us up, get us in trouble, it can't 
deny that we're the ones who are washing its dirty dishes. 
Also the salvaged community constitutes our organizing 
base, to which we offer a higher level of service: our own 
understanding of things, our own motivation. 

One big threat to America's self-image is the growing 
army of dropout clergy and sisters. It was they originally 
who instructed the young people about love and war. Nei- 
ther teacher nor student could continue school as usual 
when they discovered that the churches had no intention 
of taking seriously what was written in their own charter. 
Society can get indignant at the young people, who were 
never intended to listen in church, but only go through 
the motions. But it specifically assigned the clergy the duty 
of sincerity — and at the same time the incompatible one of 
getting along with existing conditions. Their withdrawal 
has had less influence because they've fallen into the pos- 
ture expected of them, as the victim keeps step with the 
executioner. The dropout tacitly accepts his assigned role 
of adulterer, neurotic, doubter; it's harder than we think 
to escape type-casting. But one day the untidy ranks of the 


displaced will brace up spontaneously into a community 
whose outlaw status is a source of pride rather than guilt. 

The American church complex assigns its members 
the duty of bringing reconciliation to all the people they 
come in touch with. That covers a lot of ground; who on 
the planet has failed to be contacted by an American 
Christian? In our one world, the Church has finally redis- 
covered her original constituency, populations thought 
permanently silent — grapepickers, ragpickers, ghetto un- 
employed, prisoners, dispossessed peasants, students, lep- 
ers, those social lepers the hippies. Actual reconciliation 
would be to determine the issue of justice truthfully be- 
tween the newly vocal and their better-established oppo- 
nents (many of whom sit in the front pew on Sunday 
morning), while finding a definition of their common in- 
terest they could agree on. 

Of course the mediator standing between the lines of 
street people and a police riot is likely to get hit by rocks, 
bottles, clubs, bayonets, bullets, chemical agents. He takes 
that risk. Intelligent Americans should decide though: do 
they want him there or not? They must realize (like intel- 
ligent Russians) that hearts and minds must actually be 
won, and that it won't work to dispatch tanks into cities, 
order airstrikes, burn down the houses of peasants, or even 
send bank credits to the poor. Only men and women will 
do. The mediator must first win the rebel's trust, and the 
holders of big power can't offer much advice. They can 
just choose between two alternatives: putting actual confi- 
dence in the messenger of reconciliation who makes his 
risky trip across lines, or rejecting his offices and waiting 
for the man with the bandolier carrying an ultimatum. 

Those new communities of the alienated in their 


dawning self-consciousness speak louder than books the 
word which the church Establishment has to hear. The ir- 
regular ministry to the oppressed by persons with unstable 
private lives is, more than any other one thing, building 
the united ministry in the future renewed Church. And 
our ultimate service of renewal — restoration of the plane- 
tary environment — can only be the work of a world recon- 
ciling community. 

Everyone so far as he can manage his own problems 
has the potential of becoming a leader. But sooner or later 
everyone succumbs to his own problems; "Others he 
saved, himself he cannot save." The other side of the coin 
of helpfulness is the mental attitude with which we accept 
the unpleasant reality, either that nobody is helping us, or 
that we'll have to accept help from somebody. In the end 
the parabola of our life brings us back again to the mute 
resentful dependence in which we were born. 

chapter MINE 

The Demand for Hope: 
Falling Casualty 

As if to make sure we won't be stood up on our 
date with death, we keep holding rehearsals — 
falling casualty. Our failures cover a wide band of things 
we're responsible for and things we aren't; from the inside 
they look a lot alike. It's hard for a woman to discover by 
herself whether she's being shelved by her husband, or 
whether she nags at him and arranges for him to fail, or 
whether they've both just been given a bum break by the 

The child, secure with organs he's too weak to over- 
load, parts whose full function he can only guess, doesn't 
doubt his immortality. That innocence points to the conti- 
nuity of the species, of culture — perhaps to some deeper 
continuity of every instant. But first he must discover that 
some day his friend the garbage-collector won't come, that 
he won't always live in this house, that mummy and daddy 
won't always be there to keep it from burning down while 
he's asleep; that some day he'll have to turn in the library 
card which was stamped Permanently Valid. (The reason 
adults stay up late at night is because their mummys and 
daddys aren't there to keep the house from burning down, 


they don't trust it to take care of itself.) As dizziness on 
ladders sets in, we start doing something constructive 
about it: putting together photograph albums, collecting 
current American coins, contributing brass flower-stands 
to the church. Even so not quite constructive enough. 

Still we do all need to move over and make room for 
a new crop to grow up. Some kind of acquiescence or 
death-wish is built into us. Some people move smoothly 
towards their destination, dropping off excess baggage at 
each airport as they use up the final panels of their yard- 
long excursion ticket. But it's harder to preserve that 
steadiness in the face of dissolution when we're committed 
to social change. Both justified guilt and unjustified anxi- 
ety become more intense. We can't see what kind of a 
world we're launching our kids into — with even more in- 
adequate preparations than usual. Will the rainstorm wait 
until we've closed down the house? 

The Rising Casualty-Rate 

The types of casualty characteristic in any society 
point to its areas of greatest tension. The Gospels presup- 
pose a world whose problem is impotence: they're full of 
lame, blind, paralytics, deaf, dumb, unclean. Paul sees cor- 
rectly that these are all nonverbal signals of inability to 
find the right way and hold to it. One class of our diseases 
is a compulsive overloading of the system: heart attacks, 
cirrhosis of the liver, emphysema. Another is invasions of 
the organism by a foreign element: allergy, homosexual- 
ity, cancer. Both types loom large in our symbolism, we 
spend the most money dealing with them; perhaps we're 


even most susceptible to them. What we fear most for our 
society, with good reason, is collapse from overloading 
inside, and invasion by foreign elements, outside agitators. 

Our nervous breakdowns and family breakdowns are 
the little snaps which add up to social breakdown. The 
sado-masochism of bullying and Yesmanship in business il- 
lustrates our foreign policy. Our most widely used remedy, 
the tranquilizer, points to the peace the world is calling 
for. But we try for it by covering up our awareness of 
conflict and injustice, rather than by pushing through to 
the end. We cry Peace Peace where there isn't any peace. 

In the movement for social change, casualties of every 
sort are constant. A man who seemed committed to the 
way of persuasion begins under stress to speak darkly of 
guns. A couple who've made big sacrifices for each other, 
when they're finally reunited and set up in an apartment, 
after a few months can't keep going and split. A social 
worker grossly neglects his own family, turns to drugs. 
The clergyman whose radical project is sabotaged by his 
superiors, or by its intrinsic difficulty, takes pains to hasten 
its failure, and in cynicism goes back to selling insurance. 

The progressive decay of personal relations, bad 
enough in a loveless marriage, gets worse under the um- 
brella of ideology, when both parties can include among 
their charges against the other side its taking an incorrect 
line. And then the progressive creation of misunderstand- 
ings; treating the other party like a public meeting; each 
pushing the other into defending an unattractive corner. 
All our psychic stability, and the vocational second strings 
to our bow, are needed to stay out of the box, to extricate 
ourselves once in, to help the others now shut up in it. 

But the sign that some kind of revolution will go 


through is that ex-radicals aren't swinging onto the con- 
servative bandwagon. They crawl into an apolitical hole 
and lick their wounds. Our perception of the System's vio- 
lence can't be shrugged off once we've felt it, even though 
we succumb or take on counter-violence. Our casualties 
aren't the gross moral failure of apostasy, finking out, but a 
gross emotional inadequacy, with unfairness to family and 
friends. Nobody is better aware of the unfairness than the 
casualty — which only intensifies his guilt. 

Across America (not to go farther afield) is a fellow- 
ship of millions who have fallen. If they could be made 
aware of their brotherhood and set back on their feet 
again, they'd be an irresistible army. Their recuperation is 
slow, partial, with many scars; they work themselves back 
into mechanical undemanding jobs, superficial personal 
relationships. Still in their silence they raise an incoherent 
demand that their failure should be made a solid founda- 
tion of hope. 

Changing What Can Be Changed 

A well-known prayer asks for the serenity to accept 
what can't be changed, the courage to change what can be, 
and the wisdom to know the difference. This sentiment 
has been taken up by Alcoholics Anonymous, and we 
might think about alcoholism for a moment as a typical 
Establishment form of casualty. One implied dogma is 
that alcoholism can be changed; we may heartily agree, 
recognize AA as a disguise of the Church, and help our 
straight friends make their way to it. Behind this however 
lies another dogma, that the tendency towards alcoholism 


is something which can't be changed. AA comes close to 
chaplaincy, assuming that the conditions of society are be- 
yond change, beyond criticism, and that the only possible 
service is to pick up the pieces. But alcoholism is a groping 
towards the inner revolution, an honorable though de- 
structive response to the psychic violence of the System. 
When a person is trapped in a spiral of activities that are 
destroying his integrity, and still has unfinished business 
which prevents him killing himself, he resorts to the de- 
ferred suicide of drinking. AA, though among the best of 
Establishment services, still, by sending its members back 
rehabilitated to the world of fraternal orders and Little 
League baseball, is only patching up the symptoms of the 
exploitative system which produced alcoholism in the first 

But we're never allowed to set limits of possible 
change in the renewal of institutions or environment. No 
use bandaging the ulcer unless we treat the infection with 
antibiotics. Whatever is necessary must be possible. That 
doesn't prove the change can be effected through us; it 
does prove we have to try harder and then let somebody 
else try. 

The two sides have only just engaged each other here; 
the paranoia of the System also strongly infects all who've 
gotten off the trolley-car tracks of society. The founders of 
student movements, intentional communities, service- 
ministries, expect their corps of volunteers to work as a 
team, and are naively surprised when deep anger or self- 
deception surfaces over office space and subsistence- 
allowances. A group apparently must have its quota of 
such failures before it can see its way to absolutely clear 
and realistic goals, resolute commitment, an actually 


functioning organization. Up on the timberline of the fu- 
ture we're too exposed to the elements to allow that hatred 
of self and of others which the System has bred in. 

After that famous fresh start we'd assumed we were 
now immunized against evil; we could push through on 
our own projects, accept all the junk the world would 
dump on us, and have strength left over to help our broth- 
ers in trouble. Just then word comes in roundabout that 
we've hurt somebody's feelings, and he resents it too much 
to talk about it. Here is where we must remember that the 
fresh start was meant to be constantly repeated; we must 
summon up our will and go back to the point we thought 
we'd left far behind. Although it's not precisely in our 
power to do this, the power is available to make bad per- 
sonal relations one of the things that can and must be 

Accepting the Necessity of Our Failure 

But not forever. The capacity of each to absorb pun- 
ishment and start over again is finite. Happy is the man 
whose physical strength rides on into a wise old age, and 
whose moral strength grows to the end. But most of us, not 
altogether by our own fault, at some point will be hurt so 
seriously that we won't recover complete use of the in- 
jured faculty, even though we may go on some ways fur- 
ther. At some point we'll be hurt so seriously that we 
won't go on much further. This is one of the things we 
won't change. 

With the same broad perspective we bring to the em- 
bittered casualty, we can try not to become embittered 


ourselves. Our insight wasn't all that exceptional. If we, 
with our mediocre talents, discovered some urgent job and 
made a try at it, perhaps, if we avoided gross compromises, 
others will take the same route. Maybe they're just waiting 
politely for us to get out of the way. The biggest service 
we can do them is not to add cynicism of ours to their bur- 
den, and to express confidence that the job will be done. 

Here lies the center of what may be called our spiritu- 
ality. When we've fallen casualty, by a dull but always pos- 
sible act of will we may summon up the presence of others 
who held out to the end. Perhaps those who immolated 
themselves for justice or peace: Venerable Quang Due the 
Buddhist of Saigon, Jan Palach under the Soviet occupa- 
tion of Prague, our own Norman Morrison the Quaker. 
Probably we should affirm that this is never the optimum 
response. All the more then we have to match their 
firmness as they moved towards the irrevocable act. 

As we sink deeper into casualty we may remember 
that we once planned to be famous. Morrison and the oth- 
ers are remembered by accidents of publicity. At the same 
time then we should also maintain psychic identification 
with the anonymous victims of violence — the Holy Inno- 
cents of Jerusalem, of the Wars of Religion, the Albi- 
genses, Indians and Negroes, victims of Auschwitz, Cov- 
entry, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Viet 
Nam — as well as those who weren't even caught up in that 
much history. 

Around retirement time we have to face also the 
status, not of being forgotten in the future, but of being 
disenfranchised in the present. As usual the problem is in- 
terlocking: the false independence of the old, which is 
really a withdrawing into isolation; the unreal wish of 


children to perfect their harmonious career before settling 
a parent down into it. Making the right gesture of good- 
will to the old is part of the realism with which we later 
will accept casualty status ourselves. 

Whatever happens, we can remember with thankful- 
ness that we weren't those casualties from birth, the blind 
and deaf sons of privilege who bring their own special 
attache-case sophistication into making counterinsurgency 
humane. I cut myself once shaving when I remembered 
suddenly that I'd known quite well the man who gave the 
order for the bombing. The most intractable and central 
problem, how such a person can be helped to turn towards 
the light, is the one about which there seems the least to 
say. We haven't any reason to feel we're better than he is; 
we can just be grateful for the luck, or providence, which 
made us more vulnerable to the truth. 

Although our casualty may be a physical separation 
from the community which is working for change, we can 
know that we're never cut off from somebody who's been 
genuinely our brother. The successful have made their 
graves already in their life; but the memory of the martyr, 
the clown, the fanatic, the fool is always green. We go to 
join the honorable company of all who chose the risk that 
their weakness would be revealed — and were gravely 
taken up on that bet by the Universe. 

Sacred Casualty 

Suddenly at the end of the day we remember with 
hope that our elder brother was also a failure. All along, 
the mark of his casualty status has been hanging around 


our necks; it's identical with our struggle for peace. Briefly 
during his life he seemed to have persuaded the others 
about the new way; then political interests regained the 
upper hand in their minds and he lost them. Any formula- 
tions he may have developed about how he'd do his job 
must have fallen away from him, and there's little evi- 
dence he found any clear substitute. So we lose the origi- 
nal fresh certainty of our convictions, and are left holding 
the empty carton of an enterprise without contents. The 
one thing we can hold on to is that we're the latest in a 
long line of failures; better so than in what is called the 
world's long line of successes. 

At this point, our casualty, without ceasing to be it- 
self, starts getting turned upside down in the massive re- 
versal which history makes of all the world's values. As 
usual our end recapitulates our beginning. Here where 
the trajectory of our rocket reapproaches the earth it set 
out from, once again a fresh start is indicated. In our 
weakness we're to reaffirm the correctness of the vision we 
were guided by in our original strength. The united 
power of our weakness down through history overthrows 
every working principle of the men in button-down shirts 
who are thought to determine the course of affairs. In the 
paradoxical interchange of rich and poor, master and ser- 
vant, high and low, first and last, the clown also shakes up 
our conventional notions about life and death in his hat, 
and turns them onto the table in a quite unsuspected rela- 

The record shoAvs failure and execution followed by a 
kind of success where legend finds itself at a loss for words, 
which for want of a better name we call resurrection. New 
life appears as solidarity of a brotherhood. When the fra- 


ternal relations catalyzed by some third party survive the 
worst the world can do to them, there's no way to avoid 
their continuing operation in the affairs of men. The 
earthbound individual body is metamorphosed into a 
weightless winged phase everywhere visible. In another 
part of the record, that change is anticipated in the living 
body as transfiguration (just a Latin translation of "meta- 
morphosis"). The pattern of our hope is given on the fra- 
grant mountain which to our middle age had loomed as 
hopeless fatigue, swinging open like a gate of dream to the 
secret valley. We feel the foldings of the earth's crust dy- 
namically as an actual pushofT to the stars. The Hudson 
V^alley is realized in nineteenth-century woodcuts as Bun- 
yan's Delectable Mountains. Still the mountain-gates don't 
cease being the gates of death as well, and we'll not forget 
that Transfiguration is also Hiroshima day. 

After many false starts, one day we discover that the 
ferry-boat has finally left the mainland and is headed for 
an indistinct shoreline out to sea. The last cars are on 
board, the gulls soar silently looking at our sandwiches. 
The propellers are veining the water into alabaster, sur- 
prising schools of tiny fish. The Seabreeze smelling of fish 
and tar pushes back the land heat. We sit among children, 
bird-watchers, businessmen in sports shirts going through 
newspapers, detached and forgetting whether the ferry is 
taking us to the Fortunate Isles of a Martha's Vineyard or 
to another commuter job. Our credit cards are in our 
pocket and we've left a note for the people who are taking 
our house; but there's been no word from the uncommu- 
nicative Yankee agent who manages our summer affairs. 
And it turns out our services were not all that indispensa- 
ble at the office. Finally the conduct of affairs is out of our 


Building the Casualty-List into a Community 

The ultimate discreditation of the churches as they 
exist is their callousness and inability to deal with casual- 
ties inside or outside. The only salvage operation we may 
be able to mount is joining the refugees in the rubble. 
Even that is some gift. Those we rehabilitate may not 
seem the best material to built a resilient organization 
from; still there they are, an available manpower pool. 

Our big mistake is confusing casualty-status with ref- 
utation of our principles or methods. Properly we should 
see it as irrefutable proof of both; we had hold of such a 
big chunk of reality that the System couldn't tolerate us 
any longer. When somebody freaks out we shouldn't panic 
and call in the head-shrinker or get a lot of pills pre- 
scribed. Rather, take it as one more incentive to develop a 
psychiatry or cure of souls which will help people live 
with not being adjusted to their society, and turn their 
energies to changing it. 

In the end, whether this or that renewal succeeds de- 
pends how far all kinds of people — conservative, confused, 
bluecollar — can see it as fulfilling their own suppressed 
hopes. The deepest effect of any movement is on those 
who touch it only at its outermost fringes where its ap- 
parent force is fully spent. At that point, with absolute ac- 
curacy a collective unconscious symbolism picks out the 
true center of a man's work — George Fox's hat, Francis' 
birds, Gandhi's spinning-wheel. 

The community we dream of is neither a sect turned 
in on itself nor the old System lightly sprinkled with re- 
form. It has to be none other than the actual society of 


man, with all its confused history and destructive tenden- 
cies, waking up and turning to the sunlight that streams in 
the windows. If the dispossessed convince us too com- 
pletely we'll pull out; if we convince the authorities too 
completely we'll sell out. Renewal wavers between the 
poles of a fatal magnetism: separatism and co-option. Fail- 
ure is the only way to avoid both and insure that our work 
is appropriated simply by the one community of men and 

In the end, success or failure isn't ours to decide on. 
We have bread if the earth grows it. But we can always by 
an act of will focus our eye on the needs of the present, 
with the wisdom provided by a firm hold on the living 
vine of the past. The central content of that remembrance 
is that defeat means solidarity. Through our embrace of 
casualty we choose life. 

chapter TEN 

The Demand 
for Joy: 
The Feast 

It's something less than a pun to say that since 
our lives are maintained by assimilation, fulfil- 
ment must mean being filled full. In the warm Med- 
iterranean climate, which lies behind us, there isn't the 
need for constant intake of calories to keep up body tem- 
peratures. Breakfast or lunch just keep the stomach going 
until dinnertime at sunset. When artificial light barely 
existed, sleep and sexuality came right after the meal — 
there wasn't anything else to do. (Up until recent times, 
people slept longer in winter than in summer — the species 
was semihibernating. The afternoon siesta in part avoids 
the summer heat, in part makes up for the short sleeping 
night.) It was at dinner that the basic family community 
was realized. When people are in good health, not in 
mourning or facing a coming event with anxiety, even 
under a repressive political regime it's hard to prevent 
dinner being a time of actual happiness. 


The Realization of Community 

One feature of joy is the spirit of play — the extension 
of childhood into adult life through mock food gathering 
or mock combat (where conversely for the child, play an- 
ticipates adult work). Play is one of the things we do most 
nearly for its own sake, as Perpetua in her vision of Para- 
dise found nothing else to do. The feast is permanently en- 
dowed with something like play through the gift of Diony- 
sos, the sap of the vine "which makes glad the heart of 
Gods and men." Of all mind-altering chemicals, alcohol 
alone appeared universally through agriculture and took a 
place at the common meal. We have only legends about a 
humanity without wine — which may in fact have helped 
break the fixed circuits of instinct and start the species on 
the new path of consciousness. As the horse and dog are 
built permanently into our psyche through accidents of 
domestication; the lion and eagle, salmon and stag 
through symbolism and sport; even more closely the vine 
trails over all the works of Western man. The lands where 
it grows with difficulty or hasn't caught on, like China and 
India, are the most foreign to us; but even they must come 
to terms with it in the end because of the world-role of 
Western humanity. 

In the ancient city-state the meat-eating Homeric 
hero or Bedouin is continued as theoretical ideal through 
occasional animal sacrifice; but the growth of population 
and poverty forced vegetarianism, supplemented by cheese 
and fish. The meat-offering of Abel the virtuous nomad is 
called acceptable over against the grain-offering of agricul- 

THE FEAST • 157 

tural Cain; but this polemic against Canaanite influence 
was soon overthrown by history. Semitic lahm- "staff of 
life" denotes meat in Arabic but bread in Hebrew. Roman 
soldiers marched on two pounds of soggy black bread per 
diem, and complained if it was replaced by less staying 
venison. Dependence on grain for life and the vine for 
meaning led to a sacral apology for cutting them, like the 
stronger taboos associated with animal blood. (Even more 
serious to cut a tree, and forests or groves belonged to the 
god or his political agent.) The yearly death and rebirth 
of the grain ^vas seen as a hopeful prospect for the men 
who fed on it. Pindar must refer to the ritual exhibition of 
an ear of grain at Eleusis: 

Blessed is he who goes under ground having seen these 

He knows the end of life, 
And he knows its God-given beginning. 

Demeter and Persephone, to have the seed of grain taken 
around the world, sent out the naked youth Triptolemos, 
who has reached us as Johnny Appleseed. 

The necessities of agriculture led to discovery of the 
magical number 365, and pegged recurrent celebrations 
on the year it defined. The strictly lunar calendar of Islam 
that wanders through the year suits the needs of the 
night-riding nomad. We were forced into nonlunar 
"months" by the overriding importance of the year. Still a 
woman I know remembers the lunar phase when each 
baby came; and the central festival of our year remains 
tied to our now violated sister. The ebb and flow of psy- 
chic energy also dictated a shorter cycle, once fixed as the 
four quarters of the moon, which now like the month 


marches out of phase with the moon, at its mechanical 
pace of seven days. 

As village communities expanded into imperial cities, 
dates of accession and founding were located on the farm- 
calendar; the natural biological cycles became the basis of 
history. So the child learns to define its involvement in the 
family and nature through festivals at snowtime, flower- 
time, end of school, and dead-leaf time. It locates its indi- 
viduality by the recurrent celebration of its own birthday. 

The original forms of politics and art cluster around 
the ceremonies which define the community's meaning. 
The gathering of the citizen body — whether for war, vot- 
ing, athletics, or festival — was an assembly of substantially 
the same group of men (excluding women, children, 
slaves, and foreigners) in various public places wearing 
various uniforms. In particular the linen of the festival is 
taken up, as we saw, in the fresh start of the Church — 
whose Greek name, ekklesia, earlier meant the Assembly 
of the democratic city. For it saw itself as the common- 
wealth of those whose city was the universe. 

The basic symbolic form of the community was the 
traditional literary text used as libretto for a ritual drama 
produced at the festival. It explains by history or myth 
how the community was founded; it also derives moral 
principles for contemporary action from that original 
event. In a regular cycle of secularization the sacred drama 
is elaborated, separates from the festival, achieves meaning 
in its own right, and sinks back to formalism or triviality. 
So Attic drama arose from the cult of Dionysos; European 
music from the marriage of chun h music and folk music 
(itself enshrining a pagan religion); Shakespeare from the 
English mystery-plays. Today the sacred arts are in the 

THE FEAST • 159 

decay phase of the cycle. The limitations of Marxism- 
Leninism come out strongly in the banality of Soviet pub- 
lic ceremonies. Only the very young find a source of re- 
newal in music produced while under the influence of 
electricity. Perhaps the unamplified guitars and masked 
mimes of the peace movement contain the sacred drama of 
the future. 

Meeting the Crisis of Joylessness 

How can we bring the alternation of the seasons to 
life again — snow on the mountains or poppies in the field? 
Is it possible to think our way back into the Panathenaic 
procession, high Mass at Chartres, a Fourth of July circus? 
On this big spaceship that the little ones lift off from, we 
become aware of orbiting the sun, we acquire a case of mo- 
tion sickness. To get sea-legs once again we must brace 
ourselves against the steering-wheel of history. The 
innovative Zen hippy be-in leaves out the most important 
thing: continuity with past celebration. 

The replacement of natural cycles by arbitrary tech- 
nique on an automatized globe presents us only with 
the joyless alternatives of isolation and crowds, anxiety 
and consumption, affluence and poverty. Information re- 
trieval isn't part of the solution but of the problem; for 
the knowledge we need to retrieve isn't the kind that can 
be put on tape, it must exist in the minds and bodies of 
men. A Greek tragedy is classes studying it, scholars writ- 
ing commentaries on it, academic places painfully staging 
it in Greek, playwrights adapting it for Broadway. The 
past slips away from us like the tail of a comet. To hold it 


in line we must build it into stone, set it to music, re- 
hearse it in our bodies; and then go out in the streets of 
the future and do it in face of the Man's batons and chop- 

If we said correctly that our task is pushing forward a 
triple revolution, then our celebration must be a call to 
revolution — or better, a revolutionary act. But in our 
America happiness would be a revolutionary act! That ap- 
propriate joy for our age must also say clearly that it isn't 
the invention of our age or of America, but that it lies at 
the roots of humanity and isn't lacking from any age, 
though sometimes covered over pretty deep with our gar- 
bage. Affluence makes its celebration a grim display of 
the status quo. In middle-class liberalism, unproductive 
experiments in group relations mark the scene. The 
anti-Establishment world makes its celebration too anti- 
intellectual, so that it can't learn from its joy, and its 
politics becomes a paranoid factionalism instead of a joy- 
ful sharing in action. Celebration vacillates between indi- 
vidual escape and communal euphoria, heightened or 
blurred in a chemical haze. 

Looking at the self-destructive drug scene today — in 
some form spread across all classes — and thinking back to 
grossly alcoholic nineteenth-century America, it's easy to 
sympathize with Methodist total abstinence. But we 
mustn't forget how the preacher's son was driven in turn 
back to drunkenness. Every overindulgence signals some 
defect; medieval gluttony was perhaps trying to compen- 
sate for a vitamin-deficient diet. The alcoholism of parents 
is discredited among alienated youth, who had to find an 
agent of ecstasy unavailable to their elders — by being ille- 
gal. Equally attractive by its vague impropriety is the al- 

THE FEAST • 161 

leged Oriental mysticism which the young have taken up, 
spiritual grass, the opiate of the dropout classes. 

The ecstasy associated with drugs is in principle legit- 
imate and necessary, since the human race was weaned on 
wine. But our potent synthetic chemicals reinforce the 
compulsion of self-manipulation, and many naturally oc- 
curring drugs are addictive. To an outsider, the most at- 
tractive natural drug would be peyote, both for its 
spectacular effects and for its rooting in an authentic cult 
of the oppressed red man. Marijuana is the mildest — be- 
cause our Cannabis produces it only in strong dilution. Its 
chief proved danger is its illegality, and certainly existing 
or proposed penalties for its use are grossly out of line. 
But its symbolic function for a generation on strike is too 
much of a hot-house plant, not rooted in history. Since it's 
not part of a meal it privatizes ecstasy. And its past associa- 
tions are violent; for in its stronger form of hashish it gave 
their name to "assassins." It can't compete with Dionysos, 
whom we're stuck with for better or worse. 

There the community feast is at the heart of our tra- 
dition. No way to scrap that past and make a new begin- 
ning. In no imaginable future can we let the community 
celebration mesh into political structures, too much injus- 
tice is built into them. The community must cut across all 
social strata and existing politics, as it began long ago. Its 
unity can't be imposed by an authorized hierarchy or 
charismatic leader. And all its forms, wherever they come 
from, will only be adopted on their actual merits, by spon- 
taneous assent, to which legislation and leadership must 
be subordinated. 

The final non-negotiable demand of life is joy; it 
must reflect both current needs and a central tradition. 


That tradition will surely be relevant to our needs, since it 
was formed precisely in answer to the shadowside of his- 
tory: a continuity of violence exercised by difEerent agen- 
cies, but all under a permanent demonic influence which 
we can only grasp through the mythology of a global coun- 
terinsurgency force. It has twined its masses of parasitic 
dodder around the green stem of life; celebration must 
break away from that kiss of death along our entire course. 

Celebration as Summing Up Our Trajectory 

Each phase of our journey is represented in the festi- 
val of celebration, which must do justice to the require- 
ments of all. At the same time each receives from it an 
extra tonality of happiness. 

The fresh start of fidelity. The existing Church fails 
even to read aloud the standard it proposes to disobey. 
Cranmer put the definition of conformity to social mores, 
the Ten Commandments, at the beginning of his sacred 
meal. But already in Jesus' time, enlightened rabbis held 
that the Law could be reduced to a single principle — not 
doing to others what you didn't want them to do to you. 
"What is the most important commandment?" was a con- 
ventional question. One tradition says that Jesus volun- 
teered an answer acceptable to the intellectuals: two com- 
mandments, love of God and love of neighbor. But Luke 
is probably right (10: 27) in stating that this was rather 
the ready-made answer the questioner came with. In either 
case, Jesus' own original formulation is quite different; it 
doesn't exactly deny the law of Moses, but it does go be- 

THE FEAST • 163 

yond it. He introduces the radical novelty of identifying 
the neighbor as the victim. Either the helpless and proba- 
bly unthankful outcast, as Luke here goes on to indicate; 
or (even more radically) the enemy seen as victim of his 
own prejudices, shut up in the ghetto of affluence, from 
whom we expect only hard words and persecution. 

If we're to call our community a following of Jesus 
and not some kind of liberal Judaism, we can only post up 
as the condition of its fresh start his own teaching. Love 
your enemies. We will make our rule radical reconcilia- 
tion. Even if we wish to interpret those words out of exist- 
ence, we should be reminded about the starting-point of 
our exegesis as often as possible. Episcopalians may be in- 
terested to find out the one place in their Prayer Book 
where this imperative is found. In a world which can be 
destroyed both by the weapons of our enemy and of that 
neighbor who claims to represent us, loving your enemy is 
the only prudence. The community festival is a main- 
spring of action to carry out the spirit of its fresh start. 

The community of love. The community is the next 
bigger level of organization, in which family units are the 
proper cells. It calls its members brothers and sisters. It 
contains parallels to all the family relations — sexuality, 
comradeship, the refined relation between brother and sis- 
ter. A young man isn't in all that unique a relation to his 
girl friend, since he tries fitting every other girl into the 
same role; but his relation to his sister has a unique color. 
The community gives all relations that color. Its tone is 
hit off, we're told, by the wedding feast; the company cele- 
brates a sexuality not its own, but which as by-product has 
brought it together. 


Since the community will often be a hit-and-run 
affair, one step ahead of the Man, moving in where change 
is happening, losing people to jail or travel, its member- 
ship will be fluid. It will try to recognize its real members 
where it finds them, under whatever name. Among people 
who agree with it about the nonviolent revolution, its task 
is removing the obstacles to seeing Jesus as founder of the 
revolution. It will unmistakably call itself a continuation 
of Jesus — and at the same time welcome anybody willing 
to accept it in its own spirit. 

Above all it'll take pains not to put barriers of its 
making between itself and existing denominations. It will 
also take pains not to be added to their number, but to be 
a force working for love in each of them. It will be clear 
where it stands — in such a way as to make it easiest for 
them to move in that direction. It will be a community of 
radical ecumenism; not reunion for the sake of adminis- 
trative tidiness, but for joint action in the necessary jobs 
of renewal. 

No previous age of church history has been in the po- 
sition of putting together a unity out of petrified frag- 
ments. The style of operation needed is so new and 
flexible, that we can only describe it concretely after it's 
happened. It's only possible in such a vanguard scene as 
the United States, with representatives of all traditions 
shaken loose from traditional assumptions. Its new struc- 
tures will reject from the old only what it must, and incor- 
porate from the old whatever it can. 

The intersection of the vocations. In celebration, his- 
tory and the arts meet the individual most intimately. The 
liturgy is its own dance. Liturgies of the West represent 
the dignity of the Roman patrician in his own house; their 

THE FEAST • 165 

items of dress and gesture are our living link to the classi- 
cal world. The Church also formalizes ecstatic dances of 
liberation, shaking and quaking; and items of dress like 
the friar's habit which once identified the wearer as one of 
the poor. A minister to the twentieth century is a man 
wearing bluejeans. 

Historically we understand how cult builds architec- 
ture to house itself. The cathedral of Sicilian Syracuse was 
built in the fifth century b.c. as a Doric temple to Athena 
of victory, converted into a basilica under Constantine, 
briefly given Moorish ornaments, and provided with a ba- 
roque facade in the eighteenth century. The American 
churches where one can see native meaning are the white 
steeples of New England and the missions of California; 
but both streams have now run dry. 

Classic periods of the Church have a uniquely appro- 
priate music, simple enough for any congregation, deep 
enough not to be exhausted by any genius. Such were Gre- 
gorian plainsong; Lutheran chorale; the English tradition 
where Watts and the Wesleys are dominant. Nothing is 
more convincing than a uniform celebration in one of 
those styles with a choir or congregation to which it's na- 
tive. Nothing more unconvincing than tasteful eclecti- 
cism from all styles in a congregation that can't sing or feel 
any of them. There's no people's base for church music 
today except freedom songs and peace songs with guitar 
accompaniment. But it will be a while before we get a 
translation of all the things we need to say in that idiom. 

If the future holds art-forms representing a new 
humanity, it will be because, in our age of artistic 
deprivation, we worked that humanity out without sym- 
bolism, in men and women. Through the celebrations of 
the naked Church which lies ahead we may recover the 


power of the word. Perhaps the community will pick up 
its new language already being spoken, from a Bob Dylan, 
as the folksong of a Trinh Cong Son already speaks the 
message of peace to all Vietnamese. Anyway it's set the 
task of radical translation, unlocking a treasure-trove of 
words to say the old things the only way we can hear them. 
It must find the childhood rhythms, political slogans, for- 
mulas of anger or love which will once again sound like 
men and women talking about their actual concerns. 

Since the Church preserves every element of culture 
in its most original form, its word is a language of the 
mouth and ear, not of the hand and eye. Skimming is the 
technique of an amphetamine generation which speeds to 
assimilate more than it really can, on the assumption that 
meaning is spread thin. We will set up detoxification clin- 
ics from those spiritual uppers, and write over the door: 
SPEED READING KILLS. The ancieut book, like modern po- 
etry, is so densely composed it can't be grasped at a rate 
faster than reading aloud. Our Gospels are compilations of 
short oral items which at one time circulated independ- 
ently. Their liturgical reading in those sections continues 
the way they were first delivered to illiterate audiences, be- 
fore even they were collected in books. 

In the end the word comes to us as a synthesis of the 
arts. In tonal languages like Vietnamese every sentence has 
its intrinsic melody; the group recitation of the Lord's 
Prayer brings its own plainsong. So Pindar composed a 
simple melody for each ode, and designed a choret)graphy 
for the boys who sang it, appropriately costumed, in a 
Doric setting. But before that happens again the word will 
have to be stripped of everything else and come to us nak- 
edly spoken, nakedly heard. No programmed learning or 

THE FEAST • 167 

closed-circuit television will take the place of our brother 
speaking — speaking precisely because we're there in front 
of him. 

The community as place of sacrifice. The only way of 
dealing with power is letting it destroy itself through our 
submission. That way is seemingly broken by the first law 
of life, assimilation; we are what we eat. The vegetarian- 
ism of a Gandhi awakens deep echoes in us before we dis- 
miss it as impractical. Even ancient agricultural societies 
ate meat on ceremonial occasions. Except in hunting 
economies the date of the ceremony was fixed on the 
calendar, and so could only be met by a domesticated ani- 
mal — itself born at a fixed lambing season. A "domesti- 
cated" animal was one living in the house, like the man's 
ewe lamb in the parable of Nathan. In Moslem Beirut, 
lambs are still brought in as pets and slaughtered on the 
festival. The children (and adults too) grow fond of the 
new family member. Some societies grant it honorary fam- 
ily membership; in others the family is enrolled in a sheep 
or kangaroo totem. At slaughter-time permission or for- 
giveness must be asked, on the chance that the animal 
knows more than we realize. Its killing is the sacred and 
polluting operation of sacrifice. 

In the ancient world, temples were the only slaugh- 
terhouses. Paul had all that trouble with "meat offered to 
idols" because there wasn't any other kind. Open sacrifice 
imposed standards of cleanness publicly verifiable; it 
also reminded men, if the race must be continued by 
bloodshed, what bloodshed was like. Our locked slaugh- 
terhouses — at best antiseptic, at worst jungles — would have 
offended classical sensitivities. We lock them up for the 


same reason we send old folks away to die; we have too 
bad a conscience about death. But in the Providence of 
God the TV news has uncovered what ^ve wrapped up. 

Puritan America is as addicted to mass slaughter as 
Assyria or the Third Reich. We tempt Fate by stockpiling 
fissionable materials, nerve gas all over the planet. The 
Spanish, in spite of their reputation for ferocity, were the 
only conquerors of the New World to intermarry with the 
locals. Perhaps a nonviolent society would need an institu- 
tion as bloody, dangerous, and ostentatious as bullfighting 
— a moral substitute for war. (I agree it didn't substitute 
for the Spanish Civil War.) The last great Roman Emper- 
ors — Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus — were colonials from Spain 
where the old Italian character had emigrated; still today 
we have there the living picture of the classical world. 

The normal act of ancient religion was the sacrifice of 
a bull on a hot day; his name Taurus is shared by most an- 
cient languages. There was some pretense that he walked 
voluntarily to death. In the human sacrifice of Phoenicia I 
suppose a semblance of choice was generated by social 
pressure. Ancient societies were groping to the point when 
a victim would let himself be sacrificed for the good of 
something more than a political fatherland. The Real 
Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is effected by our soli- 
darity with his revolutionary self-offering. As an oppressed 
community approaches self-awareness, it makes its own 
suffering available as an organizing issue around which 
the oppressed everywhere can build. The violent powerful 
and the violent powerless are both amnesia victims. By 
forgetting their own history, they're doomed to repeat it. 
In what the New Testament calls anaivnesis, "remem- 
bering," the fog of amnesia is dispelled by the fresh wind 
ot radical nonviolence. 

THE FEAST • 169 

Probably what Jesus meant was, "Do this [not on 
some subsequent occasion, but now] so that I may be re- 
membered by God." The sharing of the group in his self- 
offering is meant to awake an echo — that is, to be "remem- 
bered" in the Structure of being beyond space and time. 
Since he's a man like us operating in the dark of actual 
history, his words deal with the concrete present; that's 
precisely what suited them to serve the future. The reality 
of his having been remembered by God then is insured 
through his being remembered by us now. Memory is an 
actual prolongation of the past into the present, not 
through lifeless stones or bones, but through the 
unbrokenness of living community. The acid of reality in 
his self-sacrifice dissolved the last remains of his individu- 
ality, and liberated him to form the new level of unity in 
our celebration. His death was identical with his resurrec- 
tion, he was lifted up in both senses simultaneously. So 
our joyful victory over death is inseparable from our in- 
corporation into the community of his way. 

The waiter at table. As concretely as possible, passing 
around food and drink to often unappreciative people is 
meant as traininsr in subordination, a school of nonviolent 
action. If there are going to be arrests, let it be very clear 
that the cadre gets busted first. Once that principle is 
clear, it's widened to insure that the whole community is 
the cadre— each in turn takes the paradoxical leadership 
position. It intercedes before the Power of history for its 
own prisoners and casualties, for the needs of other op- 
pressed communities — above all for the powerful, victim- 
ized by their inheritance of authority. Our awareness of 
other people suffering educates us by stirring us to action 
in the arena of history. 


The best service we can offer our brother is transmit- 
ting our own motivation and joy. The usual corporal 
works of mercy are sterile unless they're allowed to bubble 
up into the biggest one — releasing the body for happiness. 
Of course there's always the risk that happy people will 
drink too much or get high or bring down the Man or ex- 
ploit their buddies. Over against it is the certainty that un- 
happy people haven't found joy. 

The awareness of joy comes and goes, not entirely 
under our control. We need to rest it on a sureness we 
know what we're doing. The place where knowledge of 
the Law and the Prophets existed was the Synagogue — 
a University and meditation-center all in one. The 
instructional parts of our freedom meal flow from that 
root. Without arbitrary imposition of ideas either by indi- 
viduals or by the group, the form of celebration (older 
than either) does its own educating. The heart of libera- 
tion comes from our study of history, the realization we're 
not alone. The Establishment Church, to reinforce remem- 
brance of its foundations, celebrates the memory of kings, 
archbishops, persecutors, munificent benefactors. Even so, 
by popular request it has to include the feast of a Francis 
beside those of his master. Much more so, the means of in- 
struction in the golden thread of our real history will be a 
radical calendar, commemorating yearly the saints of an 
authentic humanity. 

The community as place of healing. The groups of re- 
newal out across the country and the world, already jelling 
into some kind of free church movement, are still hand- 
cuffed by a guilt for failure. They've claimed to see better 
and walk more surely than the Establishment churches. 
Instead they keep lapsing into overt violence, factionalism, 

THE FEAST • 171 

compromise like the others. While the chaplains of the 
white ghetto retire into an alert old age, the champions of 
the poor fall into nervous breakdown, apostasy, compul- 
sions. Partly it can't be helped and we just stick by them. 
Partly our solidarity can affirm the community feast as a 
place of radical healing. In that fellowship the commu- 
nity can raise its casualties, heal over factions, bring about 
reconciliation inside — as a preface to reconciliation of op- 
pressors and oppressed outside. Realistic confession can 
get the load actually off our back onto the broad shoulders 
of history. We know the final fall that our periodic lapses 
into casualty status are pointing ahead to. But if each in 
turn can be taken up into brotherhood, we have some con- 
fidence that the ultimate casualty also is swallowed up into 

The normal temptation of a movement for peace or 
justice is to sacrifice its members, or its cause, or both. The 
Church is the Movement become conscious of itself. But 
since it includes in some form all the problems of that 
world which it belongs to and wants to help, healing be- 
gins inside. If its basic concern can be for purity of mo- 
tives and actions, it's a nucleus of healing, putting behind 
itself both manipulation of persons in the name of an ide- 
ology, and manipulation of truth for alleged human need. 
It becomes an actual example of w^hat it advocates, a 
beachhead of the counter-invasion which operates not by 
force but gentleness. 

The Restoration of the Orders 

Liturgical forms which put first things first w'ill un- 
dercut both the trivial matters where the denominations 
differ and the basic errors where they're in agreement. By 


restoring the true history of liberation, in a common meal 
of pure food and drink, we affirm the unity and renewal of 
nature and society. The New Covenant of that ancient un- 
derground cell of nonviolence becomes the constitution of 
a global commonwealth. 

The sacred calendar celebrates the lifetime of an ex- 
emplary man through the yearly agricultural cycle, after 
the style of the pagan mysteries. But the mysteries were 
hardly celebrating anything more than that cycle — a god 
maybe but certainly not a man. A wedding anniversary 
isn't wholly separate from the wedding; it helps determine 
retrospectively whether there actually was a wedding in 
the first place. So the intention of the community to repre- 
sent the past symbolically makes the past actually present. 
Our life in community through the liturgy generates 
whatever will be meaningful in the future. The political 
prophet sees moving in men's hearts the determinations 
which one day will produce great events. But we feel 
working in us the political infrastructure of the universe. 

Einstein discovered that in our space-time contin- 
uum, by a suitable mathematical transformation, intervals 
of time- can be represented as intervals of space; history is 
projected onto geometry. The mythical geography of the 
ancient world spatialized the future — and that more-than- 
future which has been called eternity. The diamond-sharp 
outline of the ancient city-state in its geographical setting 
points to the unity of biology and citizenship. That union 
is realized in the spiritual geography of the Revelation of 
John — a book which from another viewpoint is a set of ru- 
brics for a community liturgy, threatened and unsubdued 
by the World Pig from the abyss. 

We haven't ever actually been in Eden; the childhood 

THE FEAST • 173 

sexuality to which we attach its mountain-streams looked 
for it in the future. Solomon and Ezekiel locate it in my 
own adopted home where the great springs break out from 
inside Lebanon. Under the Plan Vert, suitable prototype 
for a World Park, the mountain once again is becoming as 
Tacitus described it, "among tropic ardors, opaque with 
shade and confident of snowfalls." Hosea's famous vine of 
Lebanon, of which we're the branches, ctows there in 
its last refuge from Moslem Puritanism, beside the grain 
which isn't quickened unless it dies. 

From the sacred marriage of the youth and his child 
bride under their cedar canopy has sprung what George 
Fox calls a "peaceable people" around the globe, illustrat- 
ing the sweet reasonableness of reconciliation, each consid- 
ering his brother above himself. In the restoration of 
nature, and of our own nature, we've taken out naturaliza- 
tion papers in the city where our true citizenship lies. And 
when we finally settle down there, what do we find but 
the secret brook still flowing through its streets, and the 
golden world-tree of life dropping its purple fruit on the 
banks? The temple of its civic liturgy, called the "house 
of the forest of Lebanon," has its pillars of cedar living and 
branching into a vaulted roof, just as its stones are people. 
In that virgin woodland of the future with its floor of 
Solomon's-seal and fern, time and space, nature and his- 
tory blend into love, and the pillars of Chartres fuse with 
the sacred grove of Muir Woods; for the forest is the cathe- 
dral, and the cathedral is the forest. 


New Containers, 
New Contents 

It bothers us when somebody hijacks an airliner, 
because we expect a plane ride to be a place of 
peace, its only threat airsickness, or thunderheads pushing 
up from over Chicago, monsoon clouds over Bangkok. 
The envelope of war and death is only a hundred feet 
thick. It's easy to see why the upper atmosphere, much 
more so the moon, should have been thought by early man 
a place of life. Actually though, as we know, we can only 
get up there in a simulated city, a crowded tourist-section 
or space-capsule. We haven't yet left a body on the moon, 
and all our dead up until now are hidden in the earth or 
sea — which also, by the same token, hold the secret of life. 

The Planet as Our Organizing Base 

Whatever exploration or colonization we may now 
do. Terra is our organizing base. Her body and blood gen- 
erated the complexities of our biochemistry; and if like the 
giant Antaeus we get lifted off her for too long, some un- 


suspected component of our strength will run thin. What- 
ever extra-terrestrial societies we enter into treaty with, 
the global society of nations is our only proper commu- 
nity. Now that we can move towards the sun, as Milton 
predicted, and 

Look downward on that Globe whose hither side 
With light from hence, though but reflected, shines, 

the green revolution and the peace revolution are the 
most elementary tasks of housekeeping in our forest city. 

And those jobs, far beyond our capacity as they seem, 
are only the outer consequences of an inner rebuilding. 
The New Testament is its definitive statement, called out 
by an earlier phase of the ongoing crisis. As we read it, we 
can hardly help observing that its Way is different from 
the way of the world. A wholeness quite other than con- 
ventional morality, but still not completely out of sight, is 
being laid on us. 

The ground swell of political revolution all around 
us draws its strength from that same tradition, which it 
sees us as inheriting and disowning. If we don't make radi- 
cal changes along lines that we choose, they'll be made for 
us along lines that somebody else chooses. We don't let 
our kids borrow even nickels from their mothers' pocket- 
books, so as not to get into the habit. Much less can we 
stand by in silence when somebody cuts down a tree or 
starts a war. 

A Liberated Church as Our Primary Community 

Since the interlocking crisis of violence is unitary, all 
of a piece, with damage to nature and society compound- 


ing each other, the response has got to be unitary. Any 
community where that response is made here will have to 
include a radically liberated Church. Nothing but a crisis 
of this magnitude could radicalize the existing churches. 
And even it may not, since they, like the other institutions 
of our society, are in the grip of self-destroying demonic 
powers. We can just pour out our life and trust to Provi- 

We know only too well that we're brothers and sisters 
of the violent. Every impulse which has led them out of 
the right course is also working in us. At every turn we 
have to fall back on the community of love to check us in 
our tendency to destruction. Our efforts to liberate the 
churches in conformity with the Gospel are nearly always 
a failure. But we have to go on because we can't find that 
community inside the churches as they are. For now that 
the frontier of exploration is the moon, where no colony 
of the oppressed can take refuge, world society is the only 
society we've got. There's no New World left to go and 
build our sectarian Utopia in. 

The weak link in the chain of exploitation is what it 
was all along intended to be: the Church. Because the 
United States has a spectrum of denominations with no 
one dominant, she's more accessible to the message, a po- 
tential vanguard of the Gospel. The renewal carried out 
through Francis was the last one which spent its course 
fully inside the existing Church. Since then, each century 
has seen movements for peace and liberation which have 
gotten cut off from the central tradition of community. 

In the sixteenth century radical reformers like 
Menno Simons rediscovered the actual message of Jesus; 
but they made community into self-contained sects, prone 
from time to time to lapse into violence. 


In the seventeenth century George Fox rediscovered 
the true virtue of peace. But he rejected the symbolic 
forms of the sacraments by which alone his community 
v^ould have the power to go on attracting the world to it- 
self. Even so his Friends are the clearest institutional wit- 
ness to the truth today. 

In the eighteenth century the Wesleys rediscovered 
the preaching of Paul, on a deeper level of the psyche than 
the official Reformation. But they allowed themselves to 
be pushed out of the existing Church into moralism and 
anti-intellectualism. Even so they were the driving force 
behind the Evangelical revival: mission overseas and to 
the new industrial proletariat, concern for abolition of 

In the nineteenth century the cry for liberation was 
raised among the working poor by Marx, at a time when 
the evangelical movement was being co-opted by Euro- 
pean imperialism into a paternalistic missionary enter- 
prise. But Marxism by its very success has been unable to 
reach a new subproletariat. Because its secularism cut it 
off from old symbolism, it attributes to itself a monopoly 
on justice, ignores its own violence, and assumes its oppo- 
nents incapable of reason. 

In the twentieth century out of the soil of Marxism 
have grown national liberation movements, which moved 
from secularism to human concern through affirmation of 
their own cultural roots. With some exceptions they 
haven't found any alternative to violence — because they 
didn't see their vanguard role broadly enough. Even so 
they represent the most hopeful Third Force between the 
American and Soviet empires. 

During these five centuries renewal has been either 


divisive, or oriented towards counter-violence, or both. 
While taking our stand with the renewal movements over 
against the Establishment, we must alter them in two com- 
plementary ways. The threat to the environment forces us 
to dig ever deeper in eradicating our own tendency to vio- 
lence, as a prelude to oflFering nonviolence to our oppo- 
nent. At the same time we must be clearer than any of our 
predecessors about our complicity with the exploitative so- 
ciety, and our determination to build a new community 
inside it and not over against it. 

The Global Message 

We hear rebel messages going out on secret wave- 
lengths, and we know that action against violence is being 
taken — hasty and partial, often self-frustrating. How can 
we reduce the noise-level of the messages? A broadcast 
bounced off a satellite, simultaneously translated into the 
principal world languages, overcomes all obstacles to com- 
munication but the greatest: distrust of the sender. And 
we can't wait until some Gandhi or Chavez, at the apex of 
a pyramid of the disarmed poor, has been able to requisi- 
tion those channels. 

Actually we all know in advance better than any Pope 
or UN Secretary General how the necessary global message 
would read. Only we private persons, with no political 
power, have the freedom of action to build ourselves into 
voluntary international communities of peace. Standing 
on that base, we may bypass their monopolistic channels 
and sent out our own Telstar message, economizing on 
valuable words: 












It would be easier to find the right words if we desig- 
nated beforehand some enemy who didn't have to hear 
them, and adopted the slogans shared by the other half of 
humanity. But then our alleged communication would 
only widen the crack. Standing here in the United States 
we try just to get an initial hearing from hungry Latin ' 
Americans, Asiatics under a police state, detribalized Afri- 
cans. At the same time we remind our own people that 
somewhere between Canada and Mexico there may still 
exist an America on the growing edge of planetary and 
cosmic history; as yet no Russian or Chinese has stepped 
into the role of world peacemaker once played by A. J. 

To the Reader 

If revolutions are going on, it's because people com- 
mitted themselves to action before there was any move- 
ment to join. If talk about a strike or revolution seems 
artificial or threatening, I'm glad to drop those metaphors 


and leave a blank page in the book. The reader may fill it 
up with what he knows in his heart is the right way for 
him to be spoken to. 

We both are very well aware that things have gone 
wrong on the globe. And still a power, never yet fully meas- 
ured, lies in the will of each individual to help set things 
straight. Ripples of influence join every man and woman 
to every other. Somebody has calculated that a chain of five 
personal acquaintances can be built to connect any two in- 
dividuals in the United States. Since every foreign land 
has at least one friend in America, we are only a dozen 
persons away from every soul on the planet. And the 
planet itself has all along, we now discover, been receiving 
gravitational waves from the rest of the cosmos, actual de- 
formations of the space-time continuum, as the sleeping 
galaxies shift in their beds and arouse their neighbors. 

The sleepers are rising from the dead — more and 
more now through our own persistent knocking. The 
whole universe is illuminated by a cosmic principle which 
has already found an historic example here: everything 
can become itself without disturbing its neighbor — in fact 
to their joint advantage. We're not to underestimate the 
obstacles in the way of change. Still, independent of our 
faults, there stand the Saints, objective and free, not with- 
out their own blind spots, but mutually correcting each 
other. And they witness above all that anybody anywhere 
has the power to throw off the yoke of habit and pass 
through the waters to the liberation of integrity. Keep in 
mind, through whatever words are most natural, the 
changes in society required by the needs of the planet and 
of the poor; believe that those changes can be made by 
your fidelity and nothing else. 


My friend David Nesmith, who saw as much of the 
war as any American civilian from a farm near Hue, 
brought back an artillery shell which has been machined 
into a chalice. It seems to me that this job requires a great 
deal of pressure, and I don't understand how the Vietnam- 
ese do it. Many other things about that remarkable people 
also escape me. But it's very clear that every other artifact 
around us, beginning with ourselves, has to undergo just 
as much reshaping. In this book I've begun to block out 
concretely what that would involve; if anything I'm sure 
I've underestimated the difficulty. We will not find our 
proper environment, sitting down each under his fig tree 
unafraid, until after the bayonets of the masked battalions 
have been forged into a plow, and every instrument of our 
violence has been beaten out into a receptacle for the sap 
of life. 

GTU Library 

BR121.2.B78 Q 

Brown, John PaJrman/Planet on strike 

3 2400 00018 5508