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II. Unitarian Universalism and Peacemaking (B)

B. Other Religious Traditions

Being Peace, by Thich Nhat Hanh, Edited by Arnold Kotler. Berkeley, California: Parallax Press. 1987.
In this book Thich Nhat Hanh challenges the peace movement in the United States to move from more than protest, and actually work in peaceful ways with presumed opponents. He urges more work to prevent armed conflict.

Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Poliitcs, by Reinhold Niebuhr, Westminster John Knox. 1932.
Influential critique of nonviolence. Theological and ethical basis for neoconservative approaches.

The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative, by Thomas King, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003. See especially chapter one and chapter four, pages 110 - 119.
Thomas King was the first Native American to deliver Canada's prestigious Massey Lectures. Those lectures are published in this volume, and received Canada's highest literary honor, the Trillium Award, in the same year. In chapter one and chapter four he eloquently juxtaposes Native and Biblical creation stories, Native and Western views of good and evil, and explores the roots of militarism and imperialism. He also explores what is required to transform a militaristic culture.

Peacemaking: The Believers' Calling, from the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. The 192nd General Assembly (1980).
This report was commissioned by the 187th General Assembly (1975) to reassess the concept of peacemaking and the direction of the United States' foreign policy in the light of Presbyterian biblical and confessional faith and a markedly changed situation in the world in the late 1970s. The recommendations of report called for an offering to be received to support peacemaking initiatives and peace education throughout the church.

Resistance and Contemplation, by James Douglas, Doubleday, 1972
Douglass finds inspiration for personal dedication to nonviolent action in Christian and Buddhist sources. While some may find the liberation theology language and references to be dated, the yin-yang metaphor of personal transformation with social activism is a useful theological approach for UUs. The call to risk prison and death in self-giving challenges our usual degree of devotion.

Liberating Faith: Religious Voices for Justice, Peace, and Ecological Wisdom, by Roger Gottlieb, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2003.
This anthology shows how religion has joined with and learned from movements for social justice, peace, and ecological wisdom. It includes theology, social critique, position papers, denominational statements, manifestos, rituals, prayers, biographical accounts, and journalistic descriptions from a wide range of authors, including feminist theologians and proponents of nonviolence such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thich Nhat Hanh. The text also includes a survey of ethical teachings from Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Jainism and Native American traditions.

Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination, by Walter Wink, Augsburg Fortress, 1992.
Powers involving self-denial and dominance with origins in deeply embedded cultural mythology have gone unrecognized for too long, and now control us unconsciously. They must be seen and engaged in order to be redeemed and transformed. Wink makes clear that these are not only spiritual or only psychological or only material. He explores their manifestations in violence and identifies what he calls "Jesus' Third Way," the path out of the contagious cycle, not only through the example of Jesus but through examples in history of others who have succeeded through nonviolent means. See also by Walter Wink: When the Powers Fall: Reconciliation and Healing of Nations and The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium.

For the Peace of the World: A Christian Curriculum on International Relations, by the National Council of Churches.
This curriculum seeks answers questions of international relations and provides a esource for further reflection. The study guide weaves together many strands of Christian faith that would inform the discussion of current events. It is meant to be the centerpiece of a larger, long-term conversation that, as a nation, and as people of faith within this nation, we will have for many years to come.

Peace is the Way, by Deepak Chopra, Harmony Publishers, 2005.
"Today is a good day for war to end," says the articulate mind-body teacher and outstanding spiritual leader of these times. Peace can be achieved, he says, not by opposing violence, but by remembering our life's true purpose and adopting a philosophy that supports harming no one. Chopra reminds us that the choices we face everyday, inner choices that set us on the path of war or on the path of awareness and peace. In addition to a thorough spiritual and psychological analysis, he offers daily practices of meditation, thought and actions on behalf of others as a way to live the truth of Mahatma Gandhi's famous quote: "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way." Ultimately the ego itself has to be disarmed to live the way of peace, he says. If our goal has to be seen as a peacemaking strategy, one way might be to say: peace has long been losing the battle with war. War gets major federal funding, Army recruiting ads, and a nationally televised infomercial in the State of the Union address. Peace gets local news coverage of angry mobs waving signs. "Real peace isn't the warlike behavior of antiwar demonstrations," says Chopra. "It's taking care of the environment, helping the poor achieve economic parity, making sure human rights are protected, and finding nonviolent means of conflict resolution."

Knowing Gandhi

Studying Gandhi's life grounds UU peacemakers in the common story of a spiritually-motivated and fallible person whose "experiments with truth" identified the power of nonviolent activism. The feminist critique of Gandhi's inadequate parenting and sexual dis-ease can be acknowledged without destroying his value to peace making. Familiarity with Gandhi's life and creative approaches gives a common framework and Language for linking with global nonviolent activists.

  • Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World, by Louis Fischer, The New American Library, 1954.
    This brief, journalistic account of Gandhi's life and philosophy was the basis fo the movie "Gandhi". Fischer was the first respected biographer.
     
  • Gandhi the Man, by Eknath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press, 1978.
    The reflective narrative, black and white photos, as well as many brief quotations bring Gandhi to life. Easwaran's spiritual guidance and meditation method is useful for many UUs. The author's spiritual and practical nature comes through. Flinders' appendix in the 1978 edition is an excellent description of "satyagraha".
     
  • Gandhi's Pilgrimage of Faith, by Uma Majmudar, State University of NY, NY, 2005.
    Fowler's stages of faith development is familiar to many UUs; Majmudar's application of the theory to Gandhi's life concentrates on his active and public spiritual journey. This approach maintains Gandhi's humanity and shows the possibilities for development by every spiritual seeker willing to surrender to ever-expanding awareness of Truth. As Gandhi said, "It is by a process of trial and error, self-search and austere discipline, that a human being moves step by painful step along the road to fulfillment." (p. 234 in Majmudar)

The translated language and style of Gandhi's original writings can be tedious for contemporary U.S. readers. Beacon Press published his autobiography, My Experiments with Truth, in 1957. UU minister Homer Jack compiled The Wit and Wisdom of Gandhi, published by Beacon in 1951 and The Gandhi Reader: A Sourcebook of His Life and Writings, in 1956.

One spiritually-oriented collection of his words is The Way to God, Berkeley Hills Books, Albany, CA, 1999.

For more information contact web@uua.org.

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Last updated on Friday, May 3, 2013.

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