A Review of Gordon Oyer's "Pursuing the Spiritual Roots of Protest," by Mark C. Johnson

Mark C. Johnson is Executive Director of  The Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice in New York.  Below is his review of  Pursuing the Spiritual Roots of Protest: Merton, Berrigan, Yoder and Muste at the Gethsemani Abbey Peacemakers Retreat. Gordon Oyer, Cascade Books, Eugene, Oregon, 2014.  

Gordon Oyer’s book is an almost magical bridging of a half dozen genre in a single work. It starts out as a detective story, reconstructing, through sheer leg-work in archives and interviewing surviving participants, the explanation of how and why this retreat was held in 1964 at Thomas Merton’s residence, the Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. It then becomes a day by day account of the proceedings, almost dramaturgical in its structure; one could envision it restaged. But it also works as meta-theory and meta-praxis, describing the way it which the event opened new ecumenical conversations and offering a powerful rationale for the continuing practice of retreats.  It serves as a theological study of the roots of some strains of thinking later deepened by Merton and Yoder in particular.  Historical biographies flesh out the incredibly significant small collection of agents of peacemaking in the room including, like a documentary film rolling credits, what they went on to do (or in the case of A.J. Muste what was brought to the table) with their witness.  Finally the entire story is reexamined through the lens of contemporary voices, people who if the retreat were scheduled today would likely be in the room.  //more 


Zionism and the Quest for Justice in the Holy Land

Last month Wipf and Stock published  Zionism and the Quest for Justice in the Holy Land.   Ched worked with the editorial team on this project and helped get it to press.  From the book's press release: 

A critical examination of political Zionism, a topic often considered taboo in the West, is long overdue.  Moreover, the discussion of Christian Zionism is usually confined to Evangelical and fundamentalist settings.  The present volume will break the silence currently reigning in many religious, political, and academic circles and, in so doing, will provoke and inspire a new, challenging conversation on theological and ethical issues arising from various aspects of Zionism—a conversation that is vital to the quest for a just peace in Israel and Palestine.     //more


"Elijah and the Green Man," by Scott Hill

Note:  Scott approached me at Wild Goose this summer after I gave a talk on “Elijah as the Archetypal Wilderness Prophet,” and mentioned his investigation summarized below.  I asked him to write it up; you can reach him at  (Photo above: 17th century Mughal painting of al KhidrMystic, Green One, The Verdant OneTeacher of the Prophets.) 


Among Palestinian Christians and Muslims--it's true in Iraq as well--St. George and Elijah are considered the same person: "el-Khidr" a Muslim holy figure mentioned in the Qur'an, whose name means "The Green One."  The two names are often merged as "Khidrlas" (Augustinovic).  

At churches that celebrate St. George in Palestine--notably in the village of El-Khidr near Bethlehem, where he performed a miracle--icons of Elijah are prominent, and veneration by Muslims common.  I have seen pictures of Muslims among photos placed around the icons, and of Muslim women bringing babies to the church to thank the prophet for their birth (there are specific rituals for this; see Hill).    //more


"Listen to the Birds--NOW! A Reflection on Ornitheology and Climate Catastraophe" by Ted Lyddon Hatten

Note:  I had the pleasure of collaborating a bit with artists and theologian Rev. Ted Lyddon Hatten at Wild Goose Festival in June on his amazing "ornitheology" project.  Below is his latest reflection. --CM


I spent a few days in the North Carolina woods this June, attending the Wild Goose Festival, sometimes described as a Christian Woodstock (apt, but with fewer drugs and less music). In its fourth year, WGF is a gathering of believers who may, or may not be described as post-modern, post-Christian, recovering Evangelical, progressive, emergent… The banks of the French Broad River provided the backdrop for the deep conversations that can happen at the intersection of art, spirituality, and social justice. Famous names like Wallis, Schaeffer, and McLaren brought their followers. William Barber, Ched Myers, and the Carnival de Resistance brought a challenge to the present order.

A four-day festival promises room for a kind of extended dialogue that is rare in these latter days. But the most important conversation I heard was over my head, literally, and in a language I do not speak. It was also the loudest, by far.                 //more

An introduction to

The purpose of is to provide one-stop access to writing and talks by Ched Myers.  

Ched Myers and Elaine Enns by the Ventura RiverChed  is an activist theologian, biblical scholar, popular educator, author, organizer and advocate who has for 35 years been challenging and supporting Christians to engage in peace and justice work and radical discipleship.   

Learn more below about Ched’s:

//more below

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