John Dear, a Jesuit priest, directs the Fellowship of Reconciliation, "the largest, oldest interfaith peace organization in the United States." Since 1915, the organization has advocated nonviolence as the only sure path to peace; its members have included Martin Luther King Jr., Thomas Merton, and Helen Prejean. Living Peace: A Spirituality of Contemplation and Action
is a spiritual handbook for readers who seek to make peace in their lives and in the world. The journey to peace, as Dear describes it, is composed of an Inner Journey (involving solitude, silence, prayer, and mindfulness), and a Public Journey (involving direct political action), which, undertaken together, make possible reconciliation and transformation on a global level. "If we try, and keep trying, and stay faithful to the journey unto our last breath, we will find great joy and a peace not of this world, knowing that we serve not only the human family but the God of peace." Dear's book includes historical anecdotes and concise descriptions of particular challenges facing American readers today ("If we want to live in peace, we must learn to love the people of Iraq."), but his descriptions of spiritual exercises, particularly his own morning devotions, may be the most compelling parts of Living Peace
. --Michael Joseph Gross
From Publishers Weekly
The Fellowship of Reconciliation is the oldest interfaith peace group in America, its members having included Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr. and Helen Prejean. Now its director gives readers a succinct, moving paean to peace, in which he suggests that peacemaking on a world level first requires making peace within. Dear advocates long amounts of time in prayer, and peaceful prayer at that not just talking to God, but listening for God. Dear recommends that readers take up Ignatian prayer, in which one meditates on a Scripture passage and imagines one's way into the biblical scene (though readers will have to turn elsewhere for a truly thorough introduction to this method of prayer). "To live a life of peace," writes Dear, we must also practice peace "with the whole world," so in the second section, he turns to "The Public Journey." Worldwide peacemaking begins with an active choice for peace: Dear himself committed his life to peace while on a trip to Israel during the war with Lebanon. Some of the book's most encouraging passages recount Dear's own efforts at peacemaking: stays of execution he was instrumental in bringing about, trips to war-torn El Salvador, protests against Trident nuclear submarines. Remarkably, Dear never sounds moralistic or self-congratulatory; the book reads more like one friend sharing his experiences with another. In this inspiring little book, Dear proves himself the William Sloane Coffin of our day.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.