Back to Berkeley from Chicago, where I spent Friday and Saturday at Bill Hogan’s memorial and funeral. What was great about it:
–Met lots of the religious people and activists with whom Uncle Bill spent his life. Many priests who were ordained in his class at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary (1952) or immediately before and after. Many people from the civil rights movements. Even a few from the Communist Party USA, one of Bill’s latter-day affiliations.
–Met a few only dimly known relatives, including Joe O’Malley, one of my mom’s first cousins, who saved her from drowning in Lake Michigan in 1939 (she was 9, he was 17; four other members of her family did drown)
–In talking to the people at the memorial, managed to come up with what I think is a workable parallel for the life Bill led. Everybody talked about what an activist he was, his humor, how interesting he was, how constant in his principles, how ready always to start a protest or join a protest (one person claimed that Jesse Jackson nicknamed Bill “instant picket” back in the ’60s). What I hit on was this: Yes, Bill did fight for freedom and lead a free life. But one aspect of doing that is pure terror (for most people, at least, including myself): Like Jesus in “The Last Temptation of Christ,” you let your actions be guided by a voice no one else can hear, by a vision no one else can see. To others, you look crazy or extreme. To persist in following that course is one definition of courage.