Anne Montgomery on Divine Obedience

“Civil disobedience is, traditionally, the breaking of a civil law to obey a higher law, sometimes with the hope of changing the unjust civil law. … But we should speak of such actions as divine obedience, rather than civil disobedience. The term ‘disobedience’ is not appropriate because any law that does not protect and enhance human life is no real law.”

Sister Anne Montgomery, R.S.C.J.

(found at Sojourners: http://www.sojo.net/blogs/2011/03/03/voice-day-sister-anne-montgomery-rscj)

Bix: An Oral History…

The Pacific Northwest Antiwar and Radical History Project interviewed Bix in 2008 for a special section on anti-nuclear organizing in the Northwest.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Bix, here is a brief historical sketch from Matt Dundas’ interview with him on November 12, 2008.

Bill “Bix” Bichsel was born and  raised in Tacoma, where he now lives.  A  Jesuit priest, Bichsel is a long-time member of Tacoma’s Catholic Worker  community, who commit themselves to social justice campaigns and working with  the poor.

As a teacher at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, Bichsel worked on  fair housing and anti-discrimination campaigns, and later took part in  anti-Vietnam War protests in Boston. Upon learning from environmental activists  about the nuclear weapons slated to be stored at Bangor Naval Base on Hood  Canal, Bichsel joined the pacifist civil disobedience at the base, work he  believes “made real” his commitment to nonviolent civil disobedience and the  spiritual power of protest and resurrection.

In 1975, nonviolent theologians  and activists Jim and Shelley Douglass helped form an intentional community  near Bangor Naval Base, which later purchased land next to the base and became  the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolence. Bichsel became involved with the work  of Ground Zero, and took part in many of the acts of civil disobedience: fence  cuttings, intentional acts of trespass, and planning for the peace blockade of  the Trident nuclear submarine, the USS  Ohio. Ground Zero also helped spark a nationwide campaign of witness  protesting the movements of nuclear weapons from Texas to the Northwest on  “white trains.”

In mid-1980s, Bichsel became  involved in solidarity work in Central America, and then with protests at the  School of the Americas—an American combat training school for Latin American  soldiers—though he maintains his commit to anti-nuclear activism. As he says,  it is our responsibility to continually protest: there is, he believes, “a  power much greater than nuclear weapons.”

Click here to go to Bix’s oral history page at the Pacific Northwest Antiwar and Radical History Project where you can watch a number of videos of the interview with Bix, including one in which he describes his first act of civil disobedience, carrying a replica of the Trident nuclear submarine through a hole cut in the fence.

Did Dr. Martin Luther King talk about nuclear weapons?

Dr. King Warns About Nuclear Annihilation

On the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, one of the greatest followers of the nonviolence of Jesus and Gandhi in our culture, we must listen to his articulation of nonviolence that comes from his own lived experience.  He warned us that if we stay on the path we are on, that nuclear co-annihilation would be inevitable.  The elimination of nuclear weapons is at the basis of his hope for universal justice and peace.
Rev Bill Bichsel, S.J.

“It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence.  It is either nonviolence or nonexistence, and the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation, and our earthly habitat would be transformed into an inferno that even the mind of Dante could not imagine.
…..
“On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question–is it politic?
Vanity asks the question–is it popular? Conscience asks the question–is it right?
There comes a time when one must take the position that it is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.  I believe today that there is a need for all people of good will to come with a massive act of conscience and say in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “We ain’t goin’ study war no more.”

(Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution, Passion Sunday sermon at the National Cathedral in Washington DC, on March 31, 1968)

“In a world facing the revolt of ragged and hungry masses of God’s children; in a world torn between the tensions of East and West, white and colored, individualists and collectivists; in a world whose cultural and spiritual power lags so far behind her technological capabilities that we live each day on the verge of nuclear co-annihilation; in this world, nonviolence is no longer an option of intellectual analysis, it is an imperative for action.”

(The Trumpet of Conscience, 1967)

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