The essays in the book are written by academics for academics. With that said, the content can be readily engaged by those who are passionate and willing to engage with philosophical and theological concepts and analysis. It not the typical approach one associates with in discussing Daniel Berrigan.
The purpose of the text is clearly stated in the first two paragraphs of the Introduction written by the co-editors. They declare that the book originated from a special panel session focusing on the influence of Berrigan on Catholic social thought. The panel was held at the beginning of the 2005 conference of the American Catholic Philosophical Association at which time James Marsh was President.
Two questions were the focus of the session's participants; (1) “What kind of challenge, insight, inspiration, ad critique does Daniel Berrigan’s life and work offer to Catholic social thought and practice, inside and outside the university? And (2) “what can serious academic discussion and critique bring to his thought, that is, how does it test, deepen and enrich his thought?” The contributors to this text are academics (10 philosophers, 3 theologians, and 1 political scientist) that apply strong analytical skills and critical thinking to the two questions creating a collection of essays not intended for the general reader looking to read about the “Holy Outlaw” of the anti-Vietnam War movement.
It is advisable for both, the generalist and the philosopher, to read at the outset, the Introduction (co-editors), A Conversation with Daniel Berrigan (co-editors), and Self-Appropriation and Liberation: Philosophizing in the Light of Catonsville (Marsh), and The State of Resistance: On the Relevance of Daniel Berrigan’s Work to Catholic Social Thought (Baxter). The reviewer found these essays most helpful for their connection to the main purpose of the book.
The value of each of the remaining essays lies in the specific interests of the reader. For Lonergarians, there are two essays linking the thought of Lonergan and Berrigan: “Bernard Lonergan and Daniel Berrigan” (Doran) and “Lonergan and Berrigan: Two Radical and Visionary Jesuits” (Brown). Other issues raised in the essays are communism, global terror, hope, and prophetic witnessing.
As an edited collection of scholarly papers, the book shares the virtues and flaws of all collections, the “core thesis” is addressed erratically and the writing styles are varied, but despite this the time spent reading the essays was worth it.