It's common here in North Carolina's Outer Banks to see pelicans glide effortlessly in single file a foot above the breaking waves along the coastline. On occasion, I've seen a hundred pelicans circle over a dark area in the ocean. One by one, they dive straight down into the water to feed off a school of fish.
On the Road to Peace
On the Road to Peace is a column on nonviolence from Jesuit Fr. John Dear, a peace activist and the author of more than 20 books.
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.
Once, a journalist asked Leo Tolstoy who he thought the greatest American writer was.
"Adin Ballou," Tolstoy answered.
The journalist was puzzled. Who? He had never heard of Adin Ballou. Few people had.
Unfortunately, even today, few people know about Adin Ballou.
"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."
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."
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.
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.”