Lazarus, Come Forth!
Father John Dear is beloved across all religious boundaries for his faithful and unrelenting advocacy for peace and against U.S. militarism. Yet it is a jump for many Jews to open to this book’s re-reading of the Book of John, famous for its anti-Jewish account of the crucifixion. But here, as in so many other places in great religious literature, the text itself reflects the contradictions in the soul of the author. If we open ourselves to Dear’s new reading, we find John nudging us toward what Dear calls “a realized eschatology” whose message is that we can live today without fear of death and renounce the death culture in which thousands of past generations have been coerced to live. Dear’s account of John’s notion of resurrection is that we have “the freedom to break the unanimity of our repeated and rabid rush toward war and all the methodologies of death…. We are now free to pour out our lives in service to death’s victims, to offer compassion, to secure justice, to inoculate the world against its own violent ways, to beat swords into plowshares and study war no more. We are freed to live as if death has no dominion this side of life.” So John’s story of Lazarus teaches us that “we have been given a great mission—to join God’s campaign to lead humanity to the fullness of life.” This is precisely what we mean by “tikkun” and what we seek in our Network of Spiritual Progressives. For us, Father John Dear is a leading inspiration, teacher, and activist.
(To return to the Spring 2012 Table of Contents, click here.)