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The Root of War Is Fear: Thomas Merton's Advice to Peacemakers Paperback – August 18, 2016
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"Merton's witness for peace is more urgent than ever in a world becoming rapidly more insane and feverishly impatient. His analysis of the cost of war not only to lives but to minds and imaginations, to the integrity of whole societies, is still unsurpassed. In this vivid and compelling book, Jim Forest who has already contributed so much to our understanding of Merton weaves together a comprehensive reading of Merton's own thinking with personal testimony and reflection. A book of enormous richness and serious challenge." --Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge University
"When Dorothy Day handed her young co-worker, Jim Forest, a letter from Thomas Merton and asked him to answer it, a transforming journey began. The monk and the activist bonded in a profound correspondence and friendship. Its latest fruit is Jim's beautiful exploration of his friend Tom's passion for peacemaking and the abolition of an evil, war, before it abolishes us. Forest goes to the heart of Merton's understanding of our fearful predicament. May we have the courage to go with them into the light." --Jim Douglass
A truly splendid book....The author skillfully, honestly, and humbly draws the reader into her or his own struggle to deal with fear and God's call to live as an authentic Christian in this era of rampant hopelessness and barbarity....A treasure to keep, share among friends and leaders, and, if possible, use in classrooms and book groups everywhere. The book is that good and that important in our world today." --Moni McIntyre, in Catholic Books Review
About the Author
Jim Forest is a writer, lay theologian, educator, and peace activist. Since 1989, a year after his reception into the Orthodox Church, he has been International Secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship. He had a long-term friendship with Thomas Merton.
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He corresponded extensively with Merton during that tumultuous decade and theirs was largely "a friendship of letters."
Forest, a co-founder of the Catholic Peace Fellowship during the ramp-up to the Vietnam conflict, has served as the International Secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, based in the Netherlands, since 1989.
He previously penned a popular pictorial biography of Merton, copiously illustrated with sketches, line drawings and rare photos, including shots that Forest took at Gethsemani.
His revised life of Dorothy Day, ALL IS GRACE, recently received the Catholic Press Association's "Biography of the Year" and "Book of the Year" awards.
Cicero famously wrote: "A true friend is a second self."
Those who desire insight and awareness into the dynamics of friendship will find kindred spirits here.
Anyone interested in the interaction between spirituality and social justice; conscience formation; nuclear arms proliferation; the morality of the Vietnam War; non-violent protest; and, Merton's and Forest's relationships with key figures such as Dorothy Day and the Berrigan brothers would be hard-pressed to find a better primer.
Forest's sensitive treatment of Catholic Worker Roger LaPorte's tragic death by self-immolation as a "victim soul" in protest of the Vietnam War in November, 1965 and his detailed account of the November, 1964 weekend retreat hosted by Merton at the abbey on "The Spiritual Roots of Protest" for a dozen ecumenical peace activists, among them Forest himself, merit particular attention.
Beautifully written from a first-person perspective with excellent documentation and unique access to primary sources, Jim
Forest scored another literary bull's eye with this tribute to his "soul-friend," mentor and spiritual guide, Thomas Merton.
Added bonuses include the attractive lay-out and design and the rare photographs that grace the pages of this affordable trade paperback.
Using letters and the personal interactions he experienced with Merton, the author meticulously traces the development of Merton’s anti-war stance, along with the problems he had to overcome within his religious Order to publish his opinions. Moreover, the reader gets an inside view of the birth of the Catholic Peace Fellowship since book’s author is one of founders, and Merton’s philosophy was instrumental in the organization’s foundation.
Although the book centers on the Vietnam War, the content is still as fresh as it was fifty years ago. Christians are still killing others despite the teaching of the Gospels. What is the church’s position on war and how should it help men and women who refuse to serve on grounds of religious conflict? This book will make you rethink your position on war; you may not alter your opinion, but it will force you to reexamined your conscience. Few books make such an impact on the reader.
Forest's analysis opens up dimensions of Merton that are very important for those seek peace in times of fear and violence and helps me to re-evaluate and deepen my efforts to be a Christian peacemaker.