For me, resurrection is everything. It’s the linchpin of Christianity, the key to nonviolence, the hope we hold dear, and the possibility of a new world of peace. In other words, with the resurrection of the nonviolent Jesus, anything is possible, even the abolition of war, poverty, nuclear weapons and environmental destruction.
As a Christian, I’ve always believed that. Resurrection actually makes sense--but only from a Gandhian/Kingian hermeneutic of nonviolence. If Jesus was the most active person of nonviolence in the history of the world, as Gandhi insisted, then it makes sense that after teaching and practicing nonviolence perfectly, and being brutally crushed and executed by the ruling authorities and empire, he would be raised to new life, that his way of nonviolence would be vindicated for all eternity.
What astonishes me the most is that he comes back without a trace of bitterness, resentment, hard feelings, or vengeance. When he appears to his community, they rejoice, and he offers them his gift of peace. If possible, he is even more peaceful, more nonviolent. This peacemaking risen Christ sends them forth into world of war and violence on the journey of peace and nonviolence, and they take up the mission.
What does this mean for me, for us? As followers of the nonviolent Jesus, we want to welcome his resurrection gift of peace, and live in that peace for the rest of our lives. Resurrection means having nothing to do with death, and the metaphors of death—war, nuclear weapons, corporate greed, environmental destruction, and violence. The risen Jesus has not a drop of violence or death in him. Resurrection means nonviolence.
As his followers, we try to practice that new life of peace by being as nonviolent as we can to ourselves, one another, and all creation. We know with the risen Jesus that our survival is already guaranteed, so we choose not to live in fear, but to go forward in peace, hope, and love, resisting the structures of nonviolence through Jesus’ methodology of active nonviolence.
It’s this invitation to resurrection peace that pushes me. It challenges me to confront my fears, and sends me into the world on the mission to welcome God’s reign of peace and nonviolence. That mission has taken me into the war zones of the world, and to jail for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience against war.
It’s this spirit of resurrection peace that draws my friends and I to organize Campaign Nonviolence (click here). We hope to have hundreds of nonviolent actions across the country during the week of September 21st (International Peace Day) as we did last year, calling for the abolition of war, poverty and environmental destruction and a new culture of peace and nonviolence.
This August, we will gather for a national conference on nonviolence in Santa Fe, August 7-8th. The day before, August 6th, Hiroshima Day, and the day after, August 9th, Nagasaki Day, we will gather in the park in downtown Los Alamos, New Mexico, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings. We’ll gather on the exact spot where the bomb was built long ago, and repent of the ongoing development of our nuclear arsenal. If we dismantled our weapons, and spent those trillions of dollars to end poverty, war and environmental destruction, we could create a more nonviolent world for humanity.
This is the vision of resurrection peace. What we’re going to do, in other words, is get ready for resurrection. We’re not just practicing nonviolence; we’re practicing resurrection.
Nothing could be more exciting, or more important. Join us!
Rev. John Dear is a longtime peace activist, priest, and author of 30 books, including most recently, Walking the Way; Thomas Merton Peacemaker; The Nonviolent Life; and The Questions of Jesus. He is a coordinator of Campaign Nonviolence and the upcoming National Conference in Santa Fe, NM, Aug. 6-9th. To learn more about John Dear, click here.