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Dialogue, Nonviolence, and Hope – Thomas Merton

July 18, 2021
Minnesota memorial at the Andersonville National Cemetery

As I continue my journey with Thomas Merton, I am inspired and challenged by his words. In many parts of this nation and world, nonviolence and peacemaking aren’t popular topics.

After a wonderful and life-giving training event Denise and I offered to the Session (Council) at Carrollton Presbyterian Church, we sank into the couch after dinner. Looking for something to watch on Netflix, we discovered the movie “Big Miracle,” a story about the rescue of a whale family in Point Barrow, Alaska.

One of the powerful parts of this movie (based on a true story) was the cooperation between the Alaska Air National Guard, the Indigenous people of Point Barrow, an oil industry executive, members of Greenpeace, and the Soviet crew of an icebreaker. This cooperative effort resulted in the freeing of the mama and papa whales. Sadly the baby whale didn’t make it.

To put it into context… Reagan was at the end of his presidency and Gorbachev was the leader of the USSR… the time was a time of change as Glasnost encouraged mutual cooperation between the Soviet Republic and the United States. I am certain that if Merton had been alive, he would have celebrated this mutual cooperation for the greater good, in this case, saving the lives of two whales. I also believe that he would mourn the gigantic step backwards that has happened since the departure of Gorbachev and the ascent of Putin.

These words of his from his book, Blessed are the Meek: The Christian Roots of Nonviolence as found in Thomas Merton: Essential Writings, p. 130. — Instead of trying to use the adversary as leverage for one’s own effort to realize an ideal, nonviolence seeks only to enter into a dialogue with him in order to attain, together with him, the common good of man. Nonviolence must be realistic and concrete.

My continued prayer and the root of my own ministry is to walk with our congregation as we seek to be instruments of God’s peace. Where our mission is, in the words of the prophet Micah, Do justice, love kindness/mercy, and walk humbly with God and with one another.

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