Brendan Walsh

Influential Books

May 11, 2008

In 1968, Brendan Walsh and his wife, Willa Bickham, founded Viva House, Baltimore Catholic Worker. Over the 40 years it has served primarily as a soup kitchen, food pantry and hospitality house. Also in 1968, he worked to support the Catonsville Nine, a group of nonviolent activists who took 1-A draft records from the Selective Service Office in Catonsville and burned them with homemade napalm to protest the Vietnam War. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of that action, he will join a group traveling to Andrews Air Force Base Saturday to protest the Iraq war. Later that night, Viva House will hold a memorial service for Tom Lewis, one of the Catonsville Nine, who died last month.

"Long Loneliness" by Dorothy Day

It was the first book I read about Dorothy and the Catholic Worker Movement. Her book and her life taught many of us about nonviolence and the need to seek what is important to the human family. She tells us throughout the book to live as close as you can to the bottom so when you fall you don't have too far to drop or too much to lose.

"The Autobiography of Malcolm X" by Malcolm X

I learned so much about a culture and a people that was foreign to me. It was a real metanoia. The value of Malcolm's life and how he continually struggled and suffered gave me a profound understanding of racism. The problem is really a white person's problem.

"A Punishment for Peace" by Philip Berrigan

I first worked with Phil when I came to Baltimore in 1967 and continued to work with him till his death. He was involved with the Baltimore Four and the Catonsville Nine actions and part of his book was written while he was in jail. The book takes on the arrogance and power of both state and church. He urges all of us to do likewise and, of course, be prepared for the consequences.

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