January, 2015

Happy New Year! Every year in January, I re-read the writings and speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. in honor of his birthday. His consistent, compelling appeal for nonviolence never fails to inspire, reinvigorate and give me hope. Nonviolence is our only way forward, our best future, the one true spiritual path, he insists.

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon,” he teaches. “It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the one who wields it. It is a sword that heals. With a practical and moral answer to the oppressed people’s cry for justice, nonviolent direct action proved that it could win victories without losing wars.”

This year, I’m putting my energies again into mobilizing CampaignNonviolence.org in the hope that we can continue to build up a strong grassroots movement for disarmament and justice, and sow new seeds for the abolition of war, poverty, nuclear weapons and environmental destruction.

I’m working hard with plans to host our national conference on nonviolence in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Rev. Jim Lawson, Erica Chenoweth, Kathy Kelly, Medea Benjamin, Ken Butigan, Joan Halifax, and others, on August 7-8th. Please join us!

Register soon and get a hotel reservation by the spring because every hotel in Santa Fe for August will be booked by June! Join us, too, for our peace vigils at Los Alamos as we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and call for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

We’re also organizing another week of actions around the country, starting on Sept. 20th, the International Day of Peace. See: www.campaignnonviolence.org. Join us!

This month, my new book on Jesus and nonviolence comes out. It’s called Walking the Way: Following Jesus on the Lenten Journey of Gospel Nonviolence to the Cross and Resurrection. It’s intended for daily study during the upcoming forty days of Lent which begin on Ash Wednesday in February and go until Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

In it, I reflect on Jesus as the embodiment of divine nonviolence as well as a grassroots movement organizer. It starts with a meditation on Luke 10, where Jesus sends out 72 disciples on the mission of nonviolence, as “lambs into the midst of wolves,” to proclaim the coming of God’s reign of peace and nonviolence. Jesus sends them on his own Campaign Nonviolence!

Throughout the book, I offer short chapters on various episodes where Jesus practices nonviolence and challenges the disciples’ violence. It leads to Holy Week with a series of chapters on Palm Sunday, the action in the Temple, the Eucharist, arrest, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus—all from the perspective of nonviolence. Each chapter concludes with three questions for personal reflection and small groups. You can order it from amazon.com or 23rd Publications.

I hope you like it, and feel encouraged to follow Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jesus on the path of active, loving creative nonviolence. This really is our future—becoming people of Gospel nonviolence, people who are nonviolent to ourselves, one another, all people, all creatures, and all creation, people who welcome God’s reign of peace, love and nonviolence. Thanks for getting the book. Get one, too, for your pastor!

May the God of peace bless you all this Christmas!

—Fr. John