"Monty Python’s Life of Brian” is a 1979 British comedy film starring and written by the comedy group known as Monty Python. The film contains themes of religious satire that were controversial at the time of its release, and onward, drawing accusations of blasphemy and protests from some religious groups.
Some of you, no doubt, have seen the movie, and I don’t particularly recommend it to those of you who haven’t. But I do remember it as being quite interesting—and quite funny in places.
This article, though, is about the life of a different Brian, one much closer to (my) home than Great Britain. In fact, the man about whom I am writing lives only 15 miles from my home town in northwest Missouri.
Brian Terrell and his wife Betsy Keenan live and work at Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm in Maloy, Iowa. They raise most of what they need from their gardens, chickens and small herd of goats.
From this little farm, Brian travels around Iowa and across the U.S.—and even overseas—speaking and acting with various communities as a peace activist and a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.
This month Brian, who will turn 58 next month, has been on another lengthy protest march. This one was called “On the Road to Ground the Drones.”
Brian and those with him walked about 165 miles from the Boeing corporate headquarters in Chicago (where the manufacture of drones and conventional war planes is managed and designed) to the Michigan Air National Guard Facility at the Battle Creek Airport, planned site of a new drone command center. They arrived there on June 14.
My Nov. 25, 2012, blog article was about drones. It was not long after that that I heard about Brian for the first time. At that very time he was serving a six month sentence at the federal prison camp in Yankton, South Dakota.
Brian had been arrested and sentenced for protesting remote control murder by drones, specifically from Whiteman Air Force Base in Johnson Co., Mo. It was not long after his release that I met him for the first time.
Every year Brian and Betsy host a Summer Solstice and Feast of St. John the Baptist celebration, and I attended part of that festive time last year and met Brian there. People from various parts of the country, and even England, had come to Maloy to be with Brian and Betsy and the others who had gathered at their place.
With few exceptions, those who had come were peace activists. This year’s gathering, their 20th, will begin around 4 p.m. on June 21, tomorrow afternoon, and I plan to be there again.
Yes, the life of Brian Terrell is quite different from that of the Brian in the Monty Python movie—and it is quite different from the way most of us live.
Most of us are not willing or able to live the Catholic worker type of lifestyle, and even fewer are willing to involve ourselves in public protests that lead to arrest and even incarceration.
But Brian keeps walking, keeps protesting, and keeps advocating for cessation of the use of drones.
Last month he wrote, “Our civilian and military authorities, proliferating drone attacks around the globe from more and more American bases, are acting recklessly and in defiance of domestic and international law.”
The main objection, of course, is to the killing of civilians as “collateral damage” of the drones.
Yes, the life Brian Terrell is living now is worth our consideration—and appreciation.