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A Peace of the Anarchy Documentary Review. By Lis

August 23, 2010

A Peace of the Anarchy is a documentary about Ammon Hennacy, a prominent Christian anarchist and member of the Catholic Worker movement. The documentary discusses how Hennacy came to believe in the feasibility and necessity of an anarchist society, and how his spirituality informed this decision. He was an atheist socialist until he went to prison for refusing to be conscripted for WWI. In prison, he read the Bible and was moved by the nonviolent teachings of Jesus, particularly by the Sermon on the Mount. He internalized the messages in the Bible that call on people to reject earthly hierarchy and to only obey the word of God. This use of “obey” is often misinterpreted. To Hennacy, as to many other activists of faith, obeying the word of God simply meant subscribing to truth and love – the word is not meant in a coercive sense. The documentary explains that even though these anarchists call themselves “Christian” they reject the Christian church and most organized religion. They believe Christianity in its popular sense has become a hierarchical, destructive force that has “aided the state in wrecking institutions of mutual aid and support” but “early Christianity, like all other religions, was an appeal to the broadly human feelings of mutual aid and sympathy” (Kropotkin – as quoted in the documentary).

The documentary describes events in radical US history such as The Haymarket Square Rebellion and the Industrial Workers of the World. The documentary contains interviews with anarchists active today about how Hennacy and Dorothy Day (founder of the Catholic Worker movement) influenced their political work. Some of the recent and current campaigns described in the documentary are the Plowshares Movement (direct action against nuclear bombs production), Veterans Against the War, the American Indian Movement, Judy Bari and Earth First (a environmental movement focused on organizing timber workers). The documentary does not discuss the FBI’s attempt to assassinate Bari with a car bomb. Bari won a $4.4 dollar lawsuit against the FBI after their plan was revealed. (http://www.judibari.org/whos_who.htm)

The documentary was made by the organization, Lovarchy (lovarchy.org). Many of the creators are residents of the Albuquerque Catholic Worker house. It is 69 minutes long. Watch it for free at: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3947036826091936949#

What is the Catholic Worker Movement?

The Catholic Worker Movement is grounded in a firm belief in the God-given dignity of every human person.Today over 185 Catholic Worker communities remain committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and foresaken. Catholic Workers continue to protest injustice, war, racism, and violence of all forms. – Catholicworker.org

Catholic Worker houses provide meals, hospitality, and other services for homeless and impoverished people. They believe that while providing services is necessary, it cannot be the sole focus of one’s efforts. They believe in committing as much energy, if not more, to bringing about systemic change. This is from the Los Angeles Catholic Worker website: We must recall the words of Rev. Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop of Recife, Brazil, who said “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint, but when I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist.” Thus we do find ourselves protesting unfair treatment of the poor and homeless, the death penalty, and bloated military budgets that rob from the poor and make the world an unsafe place to live.

Check out their newsletter, the Catholic Agitator: http://lacatholicworker.org/category/agitator-archives

Or join the LA Workers on their weekly anti war march – every Wednesday at 8am: http://lacatholicworker.org/vigil.

In addition to their Wednesday marches to the Federal Building, they protest every single day of the week on a freeway overpass. On the fourth Monday of every month they protest the death penalty at the federal prison in downtown.They are located in Skid Row and work with the organization, Los Angeles Community Action Network.

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