Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Spiral of Violence" by Archbishop Dom Helder Camara

This page links to a .pdf file that will allow you to download Dom Hélder Câmara's classic work of liberation theology, Spiral of Violence (1971) The file is 5.5 MB, but your .pdf reader such as Adobe Acrobat should open automatically and allow you to read as it comes in. The file can be saved to your computer once fully downloaded by clicking "file" in the top left and selecting "save as". New - as of March 2008 the full text, but not in its original formatting that comes in the PDF version, has been appended to this page, and will be found below. People who do not have high speed internet access should use this version. And thanks to a stranger, John Doucet of Digby, Nova Scotia, who converted my PDF to this form and sent me the file.

The scanned cover image in the downloadable file with its photo of the late Archbishop Camara comes from Sheed and Ward's original 1971 edition. I delight in the fact that my careworn 2nd hand copy of this has a cup mark on it, which gives the appearance that he is holding the world in his hands, which, I suppose, he is.

The text is scanned from a "clean" 1985 third impression (ISBN 0 7220 7505 3). As far as I can see on the web, this is the most recent UK edition in print and the US edition appears not to have been reprinted since 1971. Archbishop Câmara died in 1999 and his UK publisher has since twice been taken over, with no trace of the work showing in current catalogues. It therefore appears to be some 20 - 30 years out of print, though copies are sometimes available from specialist booksellersand on Amazon, albeit sometimes at a specialist price!

As I explain in a short note in the scanned file, my stimulus for posting this document to the web was the killing of Lebanese children in Qana on 30 July 2006. Having spent a day protesting this war at Scotland's Prestwick airport (where munitions planes were refuelling en route from America), I was unable to sleep all night until I'd placed this text on the web - something I'd meant to do for the past year.

If whoever holds the copyright intends to re-publish or is unhappy with this posting, will they please contact me and I'll take it down. Readers interested in Camara's liberation theology may be interested, too, in another web posting I've made (due to its unavailability otherwise) of Adolfo Pérez Esquivel's images of Stations of the Cross from Latin America, 1492-1992and also in an article I've just completed for Third Way magazine on the theology of spiritual activism, as well as other writings on nonviolence. As of July 2009 I have also added audio recordings of the 1995 Drummond Lectures in Scotland delivered by Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez - click here. As of May 2010 I have added A Short Course in Liberation Theology, which is a PDF of materials that I use here in Govan, Glasgow, and which others are welcome to share (no acknowledgement necessary).

Lastly, while I have been writing this I have been engaged in an email sharing with a senior officer of the British army on state of the world issues. This reminds me of the importance of affirming that there are conscientious people on all sides of the debate about peace and violence, and that none of us have got adequate answers. What excites me so much about Archbishop Camara's tract is that he manages to shed so much light in so few words.

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