The new movie "The Way" has no explosions, no shootings, no car chases, no vampires and no robots ripping apart tall buildings. Because of that, it probably won't attract many viewers. Instead, it offers a rare pilgrimage of human transformation from anger and grief to healing peace. Along the way, we too are transformed. I loved it, and highly recommend it.
On the Road to Peace
One of my earliest teachers of Jesus' nonviolence was the great Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder.
I remember discovering in the fall of 1982 his seminal work, The Politics of Jesus, and devouring it. There I found for the first time someone who integrated my passion for Gandhian nonviolence with my devotion and discipleship to Jesus. Yoder answered all my questions. He outlined a theological way to understand the Gospel that made sense.
[img_assist|nid=27004|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=120|height=180]My new book, Lazarus, Come Forth!, is out this week. It portrays Jesus as the God of life calling humanity (in the symbol of the dead Lazarus) out of the tombs of the culture of war and death. Here is an excerpt from chapter eight, about the scene where Martha tries to stop Jesus from raising Lazarus. It's a powerful moment where we realize that, quite frankly, none of us, even the best of us, want Jesus' gift of resurrection and all its glorious social, economic and political implications. We have made peace with the culture of war and death. Jesus, on the other hand, is determined to bring us to the fullness of life. Thank God! I hope you enjoy the book.
Dear Archbishop Tutu,
“Yu, u nobuntu!”
Happy 80th birthday! With friends around the world, I give thanks to the God of love and peace for your extraordinary life, your great courage, your astounding witness and your magnanimous spirit. You give me and millions of others hope.
Shortly before he was killed, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. turned to Andrew Young and said, “I no longer believe the Good Samaritan story. I’m tired of trying to pick up those who are beaten down. I want to change the Jericho Road. I want it to be a safe place where no one gets beat up, robbed, and left for dead.”
A few weeks ago, I came across the latest issue of the alumni magazine of Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland. On the cover we see the back of a young ROTC student cadet wearing her military fatigues, and the title, “‘Til the Battle’s Over.” The lead article features some of the many young Catholics that this Jesuit school trains for war. This issue of the magazine is a disgrace. But so is the presence of the U.S. military at any so-called Christian institution.
Ten years ago, I was having breakfast with my parents in a Central Park hotel when news came of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center. My folks left town, and I walked downtown to see how I could help. I remember the clear blue sky and the million people walking uptown toward me. The subways, bridges, tunnels and roads had all been closed.
When I reached St. Vincent's Hospital, I found hundreds of doctors, nurses and stretchers standing silently along 12th Street, waiting for the wounded to arrive. I offered my services as a chaplain, and they invited me to wait with them. After several hours, we finally realized: no one was coming.
Nothing is harder than working for peace in a time of war. This month, as we remember the 66th anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and Nagasaki on Aug. 9, I take heart in the thousands of people who stand in peace vigils, speak out against war and go to prison for peace -- from Los Alamos to the Pentagon.
I've been traveling across the country these past five months, preaching, leading retreats and giving lectures to all sorts of people about the life and spirituality of peace. Granted, it's an unusual way to spend one's days. I get the impression that most folks find my "peace project" quaint. Of course, I get attacked by the left and the right. On occasion someone tells me I'm wasting my time. Church authorities regularly ban me from their precincts. One Trappist monk told me I've undertaken "a hopeless cause, but a noble one."
In less than two months, the US military and its media machine will tell us to mark the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks by celebrating their warmaking efforts --and continuing to live in fear.