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On the Road to Peace

Celebrating the life of Scott Kennedy

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I'll be in Santa Cruz, Calif., this week to join hundreds of friends at a memorial for my friend and colleague Scott Kennedy, who died suddenly a few weeks ago.

Scott, 62, was one of the most steadfast, determined and active peacemakers I have ever known. The former mayor of Santa Cruz, a founder of the Resource Center for Nonviolence and a longtime leader within the Fellowship of Reconciliation, he had just returned from leading his 36th delegation to Palestine, this one a grueling two weeks in Gaza. He and his wife, Kris, went to bed that Friday night, but on Saturday, Nov. 19, Scott never woke up. He died peacefully of natural causes.

Every peacemaker should know about Scott. He had something to teach us all. He believed there was always work to be done for justice and peace, that none of us are helpless, that every one of us can play our part in disarming the world. In the face of war, injustice, poverty and nuclear weapons development, we can meet, organize and take action that will make a difference. Scott certainly made a difference in the world, and in the lives of many of us, including mine.

Writing and peacemaking

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I never intended to become a writer -- and I certainly don't claim any special talent in that department. Thirty years ago, I looked around and saw that Gandhi, Dr. King, Dorothy Day, the Berrigans, Merton and nearly all the saints from Paul of Tarsus to Therese of Lisieux wrote regularly. I naively thought that writing was a requirement of Gospel peacemaking. Remembering the old adage "The pen is mightier than the sword," I started writing -- and never stopped.

Gustavo Gutierrez and the preferential option for the poor

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"I hope my life tries to give testimony to the message of the Gospel, above all that God loves the world and loves those who are poorest within it."

That's the recent summation of his life by 83-year-old Peruvian theologian Gustavo Gutierrez, founder of liberation theology and its central tenet, "the preferential option for the poor."

In Ireland at Clonmacnoise Abbey

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Just back from two weeks in Ireland with my friends Fr. Bill and Fr. Patrick, where I went to get some perspective on life and the world, including recent events such as the U.S. killing of Gaddafi, the ending of the U.S. war in Iraq and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Ever since I lived in Derry for a year, I've been returning to the old sod as often as possible to visit friends and catch that healing Celtic spirit. For some reason, that magical mystical landscape opens new insight into the inner landscape of my soul.

It was, of course, cold and rainy, but the green hills, white clouds, traditional music and witty, friendly people worked their magic.

In Ireland, when asked, for example, "How ya been keepin?", the answer is: "Poorly, thank God."

On 'The Way' with Martin Sheen

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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.

John Howard Yoder's Political Jesus

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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.

'By now there will be a stench': An excerpt from 'Lazarus, Come Forth!'

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[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.

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April 11-24, 2014

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