Fr John Dear appeared in Sunderland last Thursday, part of his national tour following on from his successful Greenbelt talks.
It was great to meet him, as I had been following his writings and direct actions for many years. he has been such a personal source of inspiration - and here he was, speaking in my new city.
A Jesuit Priest from the US, Fr John Dear has known what costly discipleship is all about. Arrested 75 times for opposing war and nuclear weapons, he has faced horrific persecutions from both the state and from even inside his own church.
In 1992 he even spent 9 months in a tiny cell for striking a US Bomber with a hammer, and has been forbidden to teach at many Catholic colleges. He used to work on prisons with those on death row, but now, as a convicted felon, he cannot even do that anymore. (he tells a great story of getting Mother Theresa to ring up state governors about to approve capital punishment!)
Now he goes around the world and reminds people of the truth. We have a 'gospel of non-violence'. As Christians, we have a duty to share the news of a God who wants peace, not war. We must work with people of all faiths and none, to ensure the safety of people and planet.
His 5 points to live non-violently are now inspired on the front page of my diary:
1) Live contemplatively
2) Live non-violently, forgiving and loving all - friends and enemies, both near and far.
3) We must be students and teachers of non-violence, learning from Jesus, King, Gandhi.
4) We must be activists, being courageous in the face of a war-mongering and self destructive world
5) We must be prophets and visionaries of peace - believing that a better world is achievable