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Becoming a Force for Love

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The late US Representative John Lewis reflects on his time in the Civil Rights Movement and how his Christian faith is a force for love in this 1995 interview with Rev. John Dear.

What does a more just and equitable world truly look like? And how do we get there? This month our We Conspire series honors Black History Month by examining ways to be a force for love through action and contemplation. 

“In 1995, I spent an afternoon speaking with civil rights activist and Georgia Congressman John Lewis (1940–2020), one of the world’s greatest teachers and practitioners of nonviolence,” writes Nobel Peace prize nominee Rev. John Dear in the new issue of ONEING, biannual journal of the Center for Action and Contemplation. 

In his article, “Nonviolence Is Christian Love in Action: A Conversation with John Lewis,” two prolific nonviolence activists have a stirring conversation about power, privilege, and John Lewis’s experiences at Selma. 

“I happen to believe that God is love, that love is God. Hate is too much of a burden to bear. If you start hating, in the end, how are you going to decide who you are going to hate today and love tomorrow? The Christian doctrine of love and nonviolence is a way of life, not merely a tactic. Love in action, Christian love, is a better way, a more excellent way, and it’s more redemptive.” —John Lewis 

Drawing of a red flame

Click here to read the full interview with John Dear and John Lewis, and check out the fall 2022 issue of ONEING, featuring curated essays and critical perspectives from spiritual teachers, activists, and modern mystics on the topic of nonviolence.  

Reflect with Us 

In the interview John Lewis says, “love is the most powerful force in the universe—and somehow, some way, you have to live it.” Where do you see this powerful force at work in your community and how can you participate? Share your reflection with us. 

Rep. John Miles Lewis (1940–2020) was a civil rights activist who served in the US House of Representatives from 1987 until his death. The recipient of numerous awards, Lewis was in the vanguard of progressive social movements and human rights struggles for more than 40 years. During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, he led three marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, which eventually led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

The Rev. John Dear is a Roman Catholic priest, activist, lecturer, and the author of thirty-five books, including The Beatitudes of Peace, They Will Inherit the Earth, and Praise Be Peace: The Psalms of Peace and Nonviolence in a Time of War and Climate Change. Dear is the founder and director of the Beatitudes Center for the Nonviolent Jesus and has been nominated many times for the Nobel Peace Prize. 

We Conspire is a series from the Center for Action and Contemplation featuring wisdom and stories from the growing Christian contemplative movement. Sign up for the monthly email series and receive a free invitation to practice each month. 

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