The Gospel of Peace: A Commentary on Matthew, Mark & Luke from the Perspective of Nonviolence

The New Book by John Dear

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The Sacrament of Civil Disobedience

Revised Edition

Foreword by Shane Claiborne

John Dear’s classic book on the various aspects of nonviolence civil disobedience as a prayerful way to resist the culture of war and violence.

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The Beatitudes of Peace

With a foreword by Nobel Winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire
The Beatitudes are “the hope and prayer and vision of Jesus…the blueprint for Christian discipleship, the job description of every Christian,” says John Dear. These stirring meditations are more than mere reflections. They are a call to action, a summons to take up the Beatitudes as a daily handbook for life, written by an internationally known voice for peace and nonviolence. Set against vivid descriptions of peace efforts in places like Afghanistan; Israel; and Los Alamos, New Mexico, Dear combines scriptural wisdom with practical advice from peacemakers like Gandhi (who regularly read the Beatitudes), Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, and many more. In each chapter, Dear affirms that the God of peace is alive and at work among us, calling his sons and daughters into the fullness of a life of true, lasting peace.

The Nonviolent Life

“How can we become people of nonviolence and help the world become more nonviolent? What does it mean to be a person of active nonviolence? How can we help build a global grassroots movement of nonviolence to disarm the world, relieve unjust human suffering, make a more just society and protect creation and all creatures? What is a nonviolent life?”

These are the questions John Dear poses in this ground-breaking book on nonviolence.  John Dear suggests that the life of nonviolence requires three simultaneous attributes: being nonviolent toward ourselves; being nonviolent to all people, all creatures, and all creation; and joining the global grassroots movement of nonviolence. Includes Questions for Personal and Small Group discussion. (Also available as an Audio Book with cds; please inquire via email) 

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They Will Inherit the Earth

“This is a remarkable testimony summing up a remarkable life: nonviolence is our greatest tool, and here you see it wielded with kindness, firmness, and skill.”–Bill McKibben

In the Beatitudes, Jesus says of the meek, “they will inherit the earth.” Meekness, John Dear argues, is the biblical word for nonviolence. He makes the connection Jesus makes at the start of his Sermon on the Mount between our practice of nonviolence and our unity with creation: our rejection of nonviolence is inevitably linked to the catastrophic effects of climate change and environmental ruin.

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Walking the Way

In “WALKING THE WAY,” John Dear invites us to meditate on the nonviolence of Jesus, as he turns to march to Jerusalem, like Mahatma Gandhi on the Salt March or Dr. King from Selma. We walk with Jesus as he practices nonviolence and sends the 72 disciples out on their own campaign of nonviolence.
We follow the nonviolent Jesus on this Lenten journey into Jerusalem where he engages in civil disobedience in the Temple, offers bread and wine as his body and blood, prays in Gethsemani, commands us to put down our swords, and suffers betrayal, denial, arrest, torture and execution in a spirit of steadfast nonviolence. Then we will reflect on the ongoing nonviolence of the risen Jesus, who comes back to make breakfast for his disciples and then send them out again into the world of violence and war on the mission of nonviolence and peace.  Includes questions for personal reflection and small group discussion at the end of each chapter. Ideal for meditation during the forty days of Lent.

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The Questions of Jesus

Most people think of Jesus as the one with all the answers. John Dear’s book, “The Questions of Jesus,” suggests that Jesus is instead the one with all the questions, questions which have remained unanswered for two thousand years. In this new collection, John offers a 2-3 page reflection on 125 of Jesus’ questions. In these times of fear, anxiety, war and violence, this book may help us reflect on the Gospel, and understand anew the mind and heart of Jesus.
Foreword by Richard Rohr 

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Praise Be Peace

“Praise Be Peace,” John Dear’s latest book, offers reflections on various key Psalms from the perspective of Gospel nonviolence to help us find new strength from these ancient prayers to follow the nonviolent Jesus more and more on the path of peace. They focus especially on the psalms that call for an end to war and the pursuit of peace, and the psalms that celebrate creation, as encouragements during this time of catastrophic climate change.

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The God of Peace

The God of Peace, John Dear’s classic theology of nonviolence, broke new ground when it was first published in 1995 as a breakthrough toward a new understanding of scripture, theology, social concerns and churches issues–looking at them from the perspective of Gospel nonviolence, in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dorothy Day.  This ground-breaking study begins with the culture of violence, the nonviolence of God, and the revolutionary nonviolence of Jesus. From this start, John Dear explores traditional areas of theology, such as Christology, Trinitarian theology, anthropology, sin, redemption, theodicy, salvation, ecclesiology, eschatology, spirituality, liturgy, Catholic social teaching, the ‘just war theory’, feminism, liberation theology and the consistent ethic of life. This text will help university and theology students pursuing the theology and spirituality of nonviolence, as well as ordinary Christians and activists interested in the crucial connection between war and violence, and God and nonviolence. It is the only serious examination of a theology of Christian nonviolence in print today.

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Radical Prayers

In this beautiful new book of prayers, Rev. John Dear offers fifty prayers on peace, love and nonviolence that we can turn to every day to help us on our journey of peace. Radical Prayers offers prayers of thanks and adoration to the God of peace; then prayers for ourselves on our journey of nonviolence; then prayers for the whole human race, all the creatures, Mother Earth, the abolition of war, the Church, and the coming of God’s reign of nonviolence one earth. It concludes with a prayer inspired by Thomas Merton, for the conversion of the human race to “total nonviolence.” 

Radical Prayers also includes a thoughtful introduction about the connection between prayer and nonviolence, and the necessity for those pursuing the nonviolent life to take time each day in quiet, prayerful meditation with the God of peace. 

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Jesus the Rebel

Jesus the Rebel explores the life of Jesus from the perspective of active nonviolence, and includes stories from John Dear’s own journey to oppose war and violence and promote Jesus’ way of peace and nonviolence. With over thirty chapters, it reflects on the peacemaking side of Jesus’ life, in a variety of stories, from his long fast in the desert and his first public speaking event, to the raising of Lazarus, the last supper, his execution and resurrection. The foreword is by longtime peacemaker Daniel Berrigan.

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Lazarus Come Forth!

The raising of Lazarus in John s Gospel is one of the most dramatic and poignant episodes in scripture. While traditionally read as a story about friendship and faith, Dear shows through his extended meditations how this story summarizes the persistent theme of the Gospel. If Lazarus represents humanity, the story of his raising is about the God of Life confronting the power of death itself, calling humanity to walk out of the tombs of death–the culture of violence and war–and into the new life of resurrection peace. According to Dear, the Gospel urges us to carry on this liberating work of Jesus today: to remove the stone that keeps us trapped in cultures of violence, to call each other out of the tombs, to unbind one another and set each other free to live in peace. In pursuing this work, we fulfill our vocations as disciples of Jesus and enter the fullness of life today.

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Living Peace

Living Peace meditates on the contemplative life of inner peacemaking as well as the active life of public peacemaking. It features three parts: “The Depths of Peace,” a section on the inner journey toward personal peace through prayer, silence, solitude, listening, imagining God and mindfulness; “The Heights of Peace,” a section about the public work for world peace, including active nonviolence, resisting evil, opposing war and the death penalty, solidarity with the poor, and choosing the peacemaking life; and “The Horizons of Peace,” about the great themes of loving our enemies, forgiving those who have hurt us, building community, persistently seeking reconciliation, and living in hope.

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Mohandas Gandhi: Essential Writings

“Mohandas Gandhi: Essential Writings” is a best-selling anthology of all Gandhi’s writings on nonviolence, edited by John Dear, and featuring a long introduction by him summing up the life and teachings of Gandhi. John read the collected works of Gandhi and dozens of biographies to come up with this collection. 

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Daniel Berrigan: Essential Writings

Fr. Daniel Berrigan is considered one of the great peacemakers in modern Christian history. The author of over 50 books of poetry, journals, scripture reflections and essays, Daniel Berrigan was known along with his brother Philip for their 1968   Catonsville Nine action against the Vietnam War and their 1980 Plowshares action against nuclear weapons. John Dear is Daniel Berrigan’s literary executor and collected these essential writings from all of Dan’s books and archives. This book includes a long introduction on the life and work of Daniel Berrigan by John Dear. It is also available in audio book/cd form.

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Thomas Merton Peacemaker

In “Thomas Merton, Peacemaker,” John Dear reflects on the teachings of peace and nonviolence by the great Trappist monk and author Thomas Merton. On the centenary of his birth, “Thomas Merton, Peacemaker,” explores the example and lessons of contemplative peacemaking and nonviolence, our understanding of the nature of God, prayer and the spiritual life, and how that leads to a life of public action and prophetic truth-telling for peace and justice. In “Thomas Merton, Peacemaker,” John Dear explores Merton’s journal writings, legendary vision on a street corner in Louisville, hermit life, denunciations of war and nuclear weapons, his friendship with Thich Nhat Hanh and Daniel Berrigan, his understanding of the feminine side of God, his oneness with creation, and his visionary experience in Sri Lanka, one week before his death on December 10, 1968. “Everything is emptiness and everything is compassion,” Merton concluded just before his death. That is the basic interior attitude of the peacemaker, John Dear concludes. We have let go of all violence and share the journey of the nonviolent Jesus to the cross and resurrection. Like Merton, we are called to union with the God of peace, and communion with all humanity and all creation.

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“This book is a clarion call for us to be engaged in the project for world peace. We ignore it at our peril.”
–Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in his foreword

“Transfiguration: A Meditation on Transforming Ourselves and Our World” (published by Doubleday in 2007, with a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu) suggests that the best way to live life is in relationship to the nonviolent Jesus. It invites us into the story of Jesus’ transfiguration, to hear God call us to listen to Jesus, and to follow Jesus all the way to the cross as nonviolent resistance to systemic injustice.

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John Dear On Peace

“John Dear on Peace is not intended to capture all that John’s writings teach. This is simply an introduction to an authentic gospel approach to peace, a way of active nonviolence that John lives and invites others to enter. Each reflection leads readers to the books from which the material is taken.”—From the Introduction

Writer Patricia Normile studied all the writings of Fr. John Dear for this comprehensive collection and set of reflection. She outlines his life, stories, and teachings on Jesus and nonviolence. Each section includes a reflection on his writings and teachings and suggestions about how to engage in nonviolence. Useful as well for small group study.

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Peace Behind Bars

This journal recounts John Dear’s experience of nine months in North Carolina jails following his December 7, 1993 Plowshares disarmament action with Philip Berrigan, Lynn Fredriksson and Bruce Friedrich. It takes you through the various jails and cells he was put in, his various court room experiences and jail visits, his scripture meditations and correspondence with people around the world, and end with his sentencing statement and a final conclusion of lessons learned. Foreword by Philip Berrigan. 

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A Persistent Peace

“A Persistent Peace” is John Dear’s best-selling autobiography, published in 2008, with a foreword by Martin Sheen. It recounts his peacemaking journey from the Sea of Galilee in 1982, where he saw Israeli warplanes fly overhead to bomb Lebanon; to his entrance into the Jesuits and work with Fr. Daniel Berrigan; to his experiences in the warzones of El Salvador, Nicaragua; Iraq and Northern Ireland; to his Plowshares disarmament action and jailing; to his work at the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Ground Zero in New York City after 9/11; and his experiences as a pastor among rural churches in northern New Mexico.

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Put Down the Sword

“Put Down Your Sword” features inspiring essays on Christian nonviolence by John Dear. First, John invites us to consider the nonviolence of Jesus, the Beatitudes, the nature of God and the mystery of the resurrection. Then, he shares stories from recent protests and journals from recent missions to India and Colombia. Then, he profiles important peacemakers of our time, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Denise Levertov, Henri Nouwen and Joan Baez (to whom the book is dedicated). Finally, John reflects about caring for the earth, learning the lessons of Thomas Merton, and pursuing the biblical vision of a new world without war, poverty or nuclear weapons. “Put Down Your Sword” includes many of John’s National Catholic Reporter columns from The cover features the beautiful art of John’s friend, John August Swanson.

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Seeds of Nonviolence

Originally published in 1992 by Fortkamp Publishing Co., the critically acclaimed Seeds of Nonviolence chronicles John Dear’s early experiments in Gospel nonviolence, from his service to the homeless in Washington, D.C.; various nonviolent civil disobedience actions against war and injustice; journals and diaries from Central America, the Philippines, death row, the Abbey of Gethsemani and elsewhere; essays on the theological and biblical roots of nonviolence; and a closing journal of peacemaking kept during the First Gulf War in 1991. Seeds of Nonviolence inspires us to undertake our own experiments in Gospel nonviolence and to reap a new harvest of peace and justice. “The whole list of issues is John’s,” Bishop Thomas Gumbleton writes in his foreword “Anyone who reads this journal collection of experiences, shares in these reflections and joins in the prayers John Dear writes down from his own ever deeper union with God, will begin to value every person–especially the poorest–as a uniquely beautiful and sacred image of God.”

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The Sound of Listening

In 1996, activist John Dear spent several weeks on silent retreat in Thomas Merton’s hermitage on the grounds of the Abbey of Gethsemani near Louisville, Kentucky. His journal from those days of silence and solitude invites us into Merton’s own spirit of peace. The Sound of Listening takes us into both the journey of John Dear and Thomas Merton, and our own journey to peace and new life. As we enter these days of peace, we pray with John Dear the peace prayer of St. Francis and join our voice to his “Updated Version of the Apostles’ Creed.” Together, we emerge ready for the struggle for justice, renewed for the journey of nonviolence, and enlightened to speak the good news of peace to a wartorn world.

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