How does your faith help you in times of struggle, change, and new beginnings?
Prayer and faith encourage me to carry on, along with the great saints and my friends and community. We can’t afford the luxury of sitting back and doing nothing when so many are suffering, when the nations are hell bent on destroying the planet. So we have to keep on keeping on. But every step of the way is filled with blessings.
How does your faith describe the relationship between all living things, the Earth, and the Divine?
For me, God is a God of peace, and gave us this beautiful creation, all the creatures and all humanity, to enjoy together in peace and nonviolence. Humanity has rejected this gift, and is deadset on killing off the creatures, destroying the earth, and killing millions of sisters and brothers. As a follower of the nonviolent Jesus, I’m called to do what I can to stop the killing and destruction, and to welcome God’s reign of peace and nonviolence on earth.
What does your faith tradition teach about material consumption and simplicity?
Christians are called to live simply and give our lives for justice and peace. I find it helpful to go to jail regularly for demonstrating against war and injustice; it reminds me of this calling.
In what ways does your community provide you with a guide to life?
My faith in the nonviolent Jesus invites me to pursue a nonviolent life, to work for justice and disarmament, to live at one and in peace with humanity and creation, and to teach and practice nonviolence. My heroes like Gandhi and Dr. King, and my great friends, like Archbishop Tutu and Thich Nhat Hanh, Daniel Berrigan and Mother Teresa, push me to carry on the journey.
Which sacred texts most inspire you to act for change?
The Sermon on the Mount, the Gospel of Matthew, 5-7. I’ve written 35 books on peace – including “The Beatitudes of Peace”, and now “They Will Inherit the Earth” – to try to unpack these great teachings of Jesus on nonviolence; I think they are the core of Christianity, and yet the most neglected teachings of all.
What have you done to improve the sustainability of your diet, transportation, and/or energy use?
In 1982, I began a vegetarian diet in response to reading “Diet for a Small Planet” by Frances Moore Lappe. I’ve been a full time justice and peace activist for decades, and have written and lectured about it, but when I moved to New Mexico in the early 2000s, I moved into a handmade house off the grid with no drinking water and no utility based electricity, at 8,000 feet on the top of a mountain, where I still live. I write about this in my new book, “They Will Inherit the Earth,” about my experimental living and its spiritual basis. For more information, please see: johndear.org.
How would you describe the experience of making these lifestyle changes?
For me, following the nonviolent Jesus is all about trying to be nonviolent, to be a public peacemaker, to work for justice and creation. So I organize demonstrations, work with campaignnonviolence.org, and continue to experiment with nonviolent living, which has meant, in this time of climate change, a deepening of my oneness with Mother Earth. It helps to live off the grid on a mountain, to live simply and peacefully. It’s not difficult; on the contrary, it’s full of blessings and peace.What are others doing?