“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

“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

“My approach to love is action, bringing love into the world through loving kindness, compassion, what we do.” – Dan Millman

DanBestPortrait copyIn March, 2016, The Only Love Project’s Bill Murphy conducted this phone interview with Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior (among with 16 other books).

Thank you, Dan, for packing a tremendous amount of wisdom into a relatively short period of time.

DM: Hi, Bill. How are you doing?

BM: Dan, doing well. How are you doing?

DM: Well, I am fine, yeah. Just looking forward to our time together.

BM: As you know from my lengthy interview inquiry, I got to be doing what I am doing mostly through observation. I saw a lot of contentious anger, volatility, rancor, on Facebook primarily. It didn’t matter which group was doing it, conservatives, liberals, Christians, atheists – didn’t matter. It was angry no matter what people proclaimed as their religious or political foundation. So I thought, “What could solve this problem?” That’s when I started to look at the traditions of love, and thought, “I think we missed something along the way.” So that’s how this project came to be. I have been studying this for about a year and a half, two years now. I interviewed a lot of people and gained some insights and even helpful direction from a few of them – suggestions I really have appreciated. Your books, and the Peaceful Warrior movie, all you do seem tailor made for this project, so I am really excited to chat with you today.

51Z2Plm-yHLDM: Well, happy to do so. I will just follow your lead and I like an improvisational approach.

BM: Excellent. For The Only Love Project web site, I ask everybody the same eight questions. You can answer any way you wish. Depending on what you say, I may follow up with a question. But, more often than not, I just let the person I interview speak his/her mind.

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

DM: Well, for those unfamiliar with my work, Bill, I started – I woke up. I was born, let’s say, a second time when I discovered an old trampoline in summer camp, and I could have never ever guessed how just jumping up and down on a trampoline might lead to the rest of my life, but I got pretty good at it. Eventually won a world championship in London in 1964, and that led to Continue reading

“Religion without love is like breathing without oxygen…God is love.” – Carl McColman

In October, 2015, The Only Love Project’s Bill Murphy (BM) spent an enjoyable and fascinating hour on the phone with author and columnist Carl McColman (CM) CarlMcColman whose latest book Befriending Silence: Discovering the Gifts of Cistercian Spirituality will be released on November 20th, according to Amazon.

Carl has written over a dozen books on spirituality, blogs regularly on the popular Patheos web site, and is a seemingly inexhaustible source for both encouragement and information – all presented with self-deprecating humor and keen wit.

Many thanks to Carl for his time and insight!

BM: The first question is, “Briefly tell us your background. What would you like others to know about you?”

CM: How do I do this briefly? That’s the tricky part. I think you could call me a seeker.  I was raised in a Lutheran home, and I in my mid-50’s now. Over the last 40 years I have really kind of wandered. I got involved in Charismatic spirituality for a while. In college, I gave up on Christianity and did sex, drugs and rock and roll for a few years. Yes, you can quote that. It’s a little embarrassing, but there it is. Then I washed up on the shore of the Episcopal church and was an Episcopalian for a decade. I have been interested in interfaith dialog since I was in high school and from the Episcopal church I went and spent several years exploring Neopaganism, and did that for seven or eight years until that path ran out of gas for me, and then I revisited something that I had also been interested in since high school — the contemplative tradition of the Christian faith which for me really meant connecting with Catholicism. So I was received into the Catholic church in 2005.  It’s been over ten years now, and I am still a Catholic. Like many Catholics, I do struggle with being a Catholic, but I love being a Catholic so that’s where I am. In 2007, I entered into formation as a Lay Cistercian and made my life promises in 2012 which means that I am under the spiritual direction of Trappist monks and am part of a community of lay people who follow the spirituality of the Trappists and apply it to our lives outside the cloister. I am still very interfaith. I hang out with Buddhists a lot. I hang out with Muslims. I am very involved with the Atlanta interfaith community, but I am grounded in the Christian tradition. I guess I could call myself a contemplative. I think there is a little bit of pride in doing that. Let’s just say I am a student of the contemplative path. That is a humbler way to put it.

BM: Yeah.

CM: I am also very much committed to engage in the spirit of Vatican II, to engaging people of other traditions to learn from them, to be their friends, and hopefully to work together to build a better society, so that’s it in a nutshell — and I am an author and a blogger, so people should all go visit my blog.

BM: Absolutely, and I will link to it. I will link to not only your website but your blog as well. [Which I did in my introduction above.]

CM: Yeah.

BM: So the second question I pretty much believe we have covered, but “Would you consider yourself a spiritual person?”  [Laughs.]

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 11.48.25 AMCM: Well, you know, that’s kind of a loaded question.  As you know there is a kind of a big phrase out nowadays: “I am spiritual but I am not religious.”

BM: Yeah.

CM: And that’s not me. I am very comfortable having identity as a religious person, so I have a narrow definition of spirituality. For me spirituality means that as a follower of the Christian faith, I take the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life seriously.

BM: Uh-huh.

CM: And I am not a fundamentalist Christian. I don’t subscribe to the idea that only Christians go to heaven, you know, and that only Catholics only go – or any of that kind of nonsense. I think the Holy Spirit touches people in many, many different ways and shows up in many, many different guises or names if you will. Earlier today I was Continue reading