Plowshares: Protest, Performance, and Religious Identity in the Nuclear Age

Hardcover | July 28, 2016

byKristen Tobey

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In September 1980, eight Catholic activists made their way into a Pennsylvania General Electric plant housing parts for nuclear missiles. Evading security guards, these activists pounded on missile nose cones with hammers and then covered the cones in their own blood. This act of nonviolent resistance was their answer to calls for prophetic witness in the Old Testament: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not take up sword against nation; they shall never again know war.”

Plowshares explores the closely interwoven religious and social significance of the group’s use of performance to achieve its goals. It looks at the group’s acts of civil disobedience, such as that undertaken at the GE plant in 1980, and the Plowshares’ behavior at the legal trials that result from these protests. Interpreting the Bible as a mandate to enact God’s kingdom through political resistance, the Plowshares work toward “symbolic disarmament,” with the aim of eradicating nuclear weapons.

Plowshares activists continue to carry out such “divine obediences” against facilities where equipment used in the production or deployment of nuclear weapons is manufactured or stored. Whether one agrees or disagrees with their actions, this volume helps us better understand their motivations, logic, identity, and ultimate goal.

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In September 1980, eight Catholic activists made their way into a Pennsylvania General Electric plant housing parts for nuclear missiles. Evading security guards, these activists pounded on missile nose cones with hammers and then covered the cones in their own blood. This act of nonviolent resistance was their answer to calls for prop...

Kristen Tobey is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at John Carroll University.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:184 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:July 28, 2016Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271076720

ISBN - 13:9780271076720

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Introduction

Chapter One: We in the Underground are Trying to Do Something Else: The Plowshares’

History and Development

Chapter Two: Something Deeper than Reason: The Logic and Tactics of Symbolic

Disarmament

Chapter Three: Our Only Real Credential of Discipleship: The Plowshares’ Rhetoric of

Marginality

Chapter Four: Just to Speak the Truth: The Plowshares’ Theory of the Trial

Chapter Five: Objection, Your Honor—She’s Talking about God: Communicative

Techniques and Status Negotiation

Conclusion

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“This book is intense. Nuclear warheads, spilled blood, fiery trials, and bracing analysis fill the pages. Tobey shows how the Plowshares’ legendary protest actions—from direct monkey-wrenching to courtroom presentations—were boundary-making and -marking performances that reveal a great deal about how religious identities are constituted in fraught political and legal settings. Plowshares brings fresh and provocative insights to a host of timely issues being debated across religious studies, performance studies, and critical legal studies, among other fields.”—Greg Johnson, author of Sacred Claims: Repatriation and Living Tradition