Ben Bartosik

September 4, 2023

Finally got a used copy of Bernadette Devlin's memoir and started reading it over the weekend. I'm just getting started and I'm sure more notes and reflections will come. However, a couple things stood out that I wanted to briefly comment on.

In the forward she acknowledges the protest movement in Northern Ireland of which she is just one small piece. Of her generation of struggle she writes, "we were born into an unjust system; we are not prepared to grow old in it." I love that. It captures both the bigness of the problem as well as the hope needed to keep going in resistance to it. This is the sort of mantra I want for parenting as well; teaching my kids that the world they have inherited is not their mess but it needs to be their fight. And to root themselves in the history of struggle that came before them, people just like Bernadette.

Another thing I wanted to draw attention to is the way she specifically points to her religious upbringing as what helped radicalize her. She writes,

"If it hadn’t been for the fact that I had an essentially Christian background from my mother, poverty would have made me bitter rather than socialist."

There are many, MANY good reasons to turn away from Christianity - both in its present and historical expressions, and I fault no one for doing so - however, there is also a strong legacy of struggle and justice within it. This again speaks to the sort of tradition that I want to raise my kids in. Not the forms of it that are tied to capitalism and colonialism, but to seek truth in the saints who fought for justice on behalf of the most vulnerable and oppressed. This is, in my opinion, the only kind of faith worth having.