“The Tactic of Nonviolence is a Tactic of Love” – Thomas Merton

ConjecturesMertonMy wife recently attended a leader’s conference in New York City in which Thomas Merton’s writings played an unexpected, serendipitous role.

The conference host shared with his audience this quote from Merton’s book Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, page 86:

Douglas Steere remarks very perceptively that there is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist fighting for peace by nonviolent methods most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are on a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.

I turned to that page in the book this morning, and began reading.

And I found something even more serendipitous, given Continue reading

The Trap Of “But What About…?”

LarrySelfPortrait2-copy-copyOne of the most common responses we hear/read during a discussion about love is the almost universal rebuttal, “But what about…?”

As in, “But what about…

…Radical Islam?

…Bigots?

…Mean-spirited Christians?

…Bitter atheists?

…Jesus getting angry and turning over the tables in the temple?

…The thief who breaks into your home?

…Injustice?

…The fact that the Bible never tells us to be “nice” or “doormats”?

…Trump?

…Obama?

…Republicans?

…Democrats?

…Liberals?

…Conservatives?

…[fill in the blank with anything and everything]?

What I don’t understand about “But what about…?” is Continue reading

“Compassion and love should be the primary motivation behind most everything we do” – Ulf Zick

The Only Love Project’s Bill Murphy (BM) conducted this interview with Ulf Zick (UZ) via phone earlier this summer. What follows is a brief but remarkably authentic, heartfelt conversation. Enjoy!

NOTE: “Ulf” is pronounced like the “o” in “wolf,” not like the “u” in “gulf.”

BM: Briefly tell us your background. What would you like others to know about you?

2013-05-25 10.30.48_SnapseedUZ: Well, I guess the most important thing is I have always loved music. My mother’s side of the family comes from a very sort of artistic background. My grandfather was a musician. My mom was a musician and a music teacher, so, you know, ever since I was young I was sort of fascinated by it and I started playing drums when I was like eight years old and started playing guitar when I was 11. That’s been sort of the thing I always felt comfortable with, and then I got fascinated with sort of the business side of it, and I had a job as a guitar salesman and guitar teacher from like age 14. After that I started working in a record store, did all that kind of stuff. I started booking concerts like basically when I was like 18 or 19 years old, and that’s just continued to go on.

Then at some point I moved to Berlin, and went to University, but continued to do this stuff. I got an internship at a PR firm. I really loved that. I felt I had a sort of good way of connecting with people over the phone and in person, so this PR thing was sort of a natural evolution from that. Then I started my own PR firm and booking agency and continued to do that, and then I started my own record label when I was 24, continued doing that. Then at some point, you know, the music industry wasn’t exactly getting easier in terms of the recorded side of music so I was kind of like what should I do. Then I got hired to work for Gibson Guitar in their entertainment relations department – which, you know, I was there for a good number of years. I think seven years total. I always stayed in touch with the whole music industry side on the other hand, you know, with my partner; did artist management and consulting for a number of artists.

Reinhard Zick-2Then I quit working for Gibson. I worked for Apogee Electronics for a year as executive consultant to the CEO which was a lot of fun, really different sort of business model but really rewarding, but during that time I started working for Spotify which in the beginning was a consultancy and then evolved into a full-time gig, and I feel we are really like sort of changing the world of music in a good way. I think we are enabling people to find music and listen to music in a better way than ever before, and I think we are also monetizing the industry really fairly. I think there is obviously challenges in how that trickles down to the artist, but, yeah, that kind of works out.

Right now I am traveling a lot. I get to hang out with great people, have great people on my team, and basically I would say Continue reading

“I think love is the only answer.” – E . Glenn Hinson [Part Two]

The Only Love Project’s Bill Murphy [BM] and his wife Beth spent an extraordinary two-and-a-half hours on May 5th, 2016, with E. Glenn Hinson [GH]. After introductions and a trading of hellos from mutual friends, we settled in Glenn’s impressive home library for a conversation that ranged far and wide – and was never less than fascinating. What follows is what transpired.

NOTE: Because of the length of this interview, we published Part One on July 6, 2016. This, Part Two, is the second and last installment. To help give Part Two context, I picked up two questions from the end of Part One.

Enjoy!

BillGlennLibraryGH: This is what Thomas Merton saw as the way we can have interfaith relationships, the way Christians can relate to Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus and Taoists and people of all faiths. This is his comment that he made on his trip to Asia, and you find it in the Asian journal. It was a speech that he prepared actually about interfaith relations that was never given, but he talked about not avoiding issues that may be raised but may be pertinent to the monastic order like the Trappists. On the other hand, we must recognize that we have to go beyond words and thoughts.

BM: Uh-huh.

GH: That is I think the same thing John Woolman saw – where we are going to do something that is beyond words. You have to have a faith that maybe a lot of people would not understand. We can talk not only on a pre-verbal, but also on a post-verbal level. We can relate to people of other faiths beyond the level of words. Merton thought monks might especially contribute there, and his meeting with the Dalai Lama was about that where they communicated beyond words or thoughts.

The Dalai Lama has spoken about it where he and Merton seemed to communicate far beyond just discussing ideas and thoughts. I think that’s in a realm where love functions; that it is beyond words and thoughts. You know it takes patience in a person’s –

I can remember one time when Martha and I were courting 60 years ago that she would say, “I was just about to think that.” There were subtleties about that that takes place. I don’t know what to say about the wars that we are in now. It tears my heart out to see this, the violence, the bombing. The level to which we have developed modern warfare which takes the lives of innocents. Every June I have to think again about Hiroshima and Nagasaki – 200,000 lives wiped out with the dropping of two bombs. I don’t know. There is something – we have to find a way beyond this. The only way I can see beyond it is love, God love, a love that is able to reach beyond words and thoughts.

BM: This would be an excellent time to ask you, Who do you look up to the most when you think of the power of love?

GlennPartTwoJGH: Well, I think we have a wonderful example in Archbishop Tutu, helping South Africans get beyond the retribution and to practice forgiveness. I have followed him teaching at the Emory University after I retired, and I could see a profound impression he made on students there. I think Dorothy Day exemplified (Was it Dorothy Day or Catherine DeHueck Dougherty?) who got ready to bed down in one of their houses for the night. A syphilitic woman came in with open sores, running sores. They didn’t have room, but Dorothy Day, I think it was, said she can sleep with me. You know, syphilis is contagious, and she could have contracted it. I have thought about that so often. She lived love. It just astonishes me how superficial I am every time I think about it. I think how far I have been from someone like that.

Martin Luther King, Jr. implemented something. He got much of it from Continue reading

“I think love is the only answer.” – E . Glenn Hinson [Part One]

The Only Love Project’s Bill Murphy and his wife Beth spent an extraordinary two-and-a-half hours on May 5th, 2016, with Dr. E. Glenn Hinson, author, scholar, teacher, and former friend of Thomas Merton, the world-renowned Catholic monk and contemplative. After introductions and a trading of hellos from mutual friends, we settled down in Glenn’s enviable home library for a conversation that ranged far and wide – and was never less than fascinating. What follows is what transpired.

NOTE: Because of the length of this interview, we are publishing Part One today. In a couple of weeks, we will publish Part Two.

Enjoy!

BillGlennLibraryBM: I appreciate your time today. We can start with the questions I ask for the Only Love Project web site: Please briefly tell us your background. What would you like others to know about you?

MiracleOfGraceGH: Well, I think of my life as a miracle of grace, which is the title of my autobiography. I was born into a family of conflict. My father was an alcoholic, and my earliest memories of anything are of my mother and father fighting verbally and physically. In 1937 we moved to a farm in Sullivan, Missouri, and shortly after my father left, and I grew up in poverty in the Missouri Ozarks. It was one of those areas, which – during the Depression – people made $50 a year, especially farmers. Of course, they could survive on $50. They could grow a garden and do things that kept them going, but what has happened in my life has just been miraculous in a way.

When I finished high school, I went to Washington University in St. Louis, and then during that period I experienced a calling to ministry of some kind; not very clear what kind that would be. As it turned out I have been an academic my whole life, my whole public career, but I came to Southern Seminary. My mother remarried, and my step-father was stationed in the Coast Guard here in Louisville, and we lived here for one year and then moved back to the farm in Missouri, and it was a natural choice for me to come to Southern Baptist Seminary which at that time was a very prestigious school. Today it has fallen far from what it was at that time. It was one of the leading theological institutions in the United States.

IMG_3933As it turned out, I decided to pursue graduate studies in New Testament, and I taught New Testament for one year, and then I was asked to switch to church history mainly because of my language facility. I could read the languages required for teaching church history. The first year I taught church history, I did this foolish thing. I took the class to the Abbey of Gethsemani in 1960. I didn’t take them to meet Thomas Merton. I took them to expose them to the Middle Ages. And they were exposed to the Middle Ages. But Merton was our host, and he talked to us about the monastic life and then asked if we had questions. One student asked what I feared one would ask. “What is a smart fellow like you doing throwing his life away in a place like this?”  Well, I waited for Tom to open up his mouth and eat that guy alive. He didn’t. He just grinned a little and said, “I am here because I believe in prayer. That is my vocation.”  You could have knocked me over with a feather. I had never met anyone who believed in prayer enough to think of it as a vocation.

IMG_3878Well, at any rate from that time on I took students every semester to Gethsemani, and Merton invited me to klatches that he had in his hermitage. I was in the first one, June 10th, 1961, and he asked me back a number of times with little groups – ministers, professors, and various others from the area. That was to be really determinative for a second calling I think that I had as a teacher. I began as an academician, church history, and I went on to get a Ph.D. in early church history, patristics (“the study of the early Christian writers who are designated Church Fathers”) at Oxford University. I had a very deep interest in that, and Tom Merton was very interested in patristics, too. He often asked me questions when we went down. At that time, though, I didn’t know very much about monasticism. Monastic history is something Protestants didn’t touch. We weren’t interested in places like Gethsemani. But I have to confess Continue reading