Jesuit priest, poet and activist Daniel Berrigan once said, “If you want to follow Jesus, you better look good on wood.”
With a multitude of arrests and prison confinements for his radical stand against war, Berrigan was a role model for words. Cindy Sheehan, who once worked as a church youth minister, also knows a thing or two about looking good on wood. She was the mom who wouldn’t shut up when her son was killed in Iraq. She was the mom who dared to question, “What noble cause?” in a time when America was still obediently waving the flag after the 9/11 tragedy had transformed the character of our people from optimistic to fearful.
Sheehan will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 27 at University Temple United Methodist Church. She has been traveling a long, lonely — and some would say — crazy road since her own consciousness shifted upon hearing of son Casey’s senseless death.
Unlike most others, Sheehan couldn’t accept the unspeakable. Her mouth roared out in rage and fury. She prophetically set up a tent outside President Bush’s retreat ranch. She spoke truth to power even when power treated her as an annoying gnat. Her husband eventually divorced her, the media grew weary of her, many people ridiculed her, and society at large began to treat her like we treat the homeless guy begging outside our car window at a stoplight. Sheehan has climbed the heights but has also scraped the bottom.
Yet, even now, eight long years later, Cindy Sheehan keeps howling in the wilderness, still trying to reveal that our empire has become evil, and our people have become lambs led to slaughter.
Sheehan herself has been arrested numerous times, she has written books, has a radio show, has run for Congress, and is known throughout the world for speaking out against American terrorism. She thinks the slaying of Osama Bin Laden was a hoax, thinks President Obama is a tool of military corporatism and wrestles mightily with the effectiveness of protest as a strategy of change. In other words, Sheehan is still a work in progress, still emotionally raw in the face of her son’s death. Like prophets who discover their own people no longer honor or understand them, Sheehan walks a lonely path on a public stage trying to find her way.
I think Cindy Sheehan is odd. I think she is a bit crazed. I think she has taken a long, hard look at reality and utterly, completely rejected the normalcy of our civilization. Sheehan desires a better world for better people and is trying hard to figure out both what that might look like and how might we get there from here. It’s because of this positive maladjustment that I think she is worth listening to, and speaking with. So consider yourself invited to an evening outside the norm.