Living Gently in a Violent World

Father Bill Graney and Debbie Seymour

The truth of Jesus: who he is, what he believed, how he lived and the way he commands his followers to live if we are to follow him, becomes increasingly harder in our culture. The mentality of America is to achieve, to accomplish, and to succeed. We want ‘more’ and have come to believe that more is better than “enough.” How does this fit with a Jesus who teaches, “If you have two coats, give one to someone who has none?” (Luke 3:11).

Politics is now truncated communications sent through a series of Tweets that are arrogant, offensive, and ultra-nationalistic. We have lost the art of real conversation—listening and responding; this is the case… one on one, in our communities, nationally, as well as on the global level. Antagonism, condescension, and threats have filled the common currency of our opinions, comments, and editorials. We are a people divided and deeply polarized. Is this the way of Jesus?

So the new book by Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier comes as a refreshing breath of cool air on a hot and humid day.   Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness is like the balm of Gilead—an ancient treasure, long present among us, though often forgotten, an earthen treasure that has universal curative powers of healing.

This book is authentic Jesus– reminding the Church that our primary engagement with each other and with the world is experienced in patience, gentleness, vulnerability, friendship, hospitality, mutuality and peaceableness.

“Gentleness is a vital dimension of the kingdom of God (Matthew 11:28-30), but it is a learned skill that demands patience, slowness, and timefulness” (p. 19). The church is called to show that Christianity is true by demonstrating what community would look like if the gospel were true. Where others see an enemy to be defeated, the church must see a wounded person that needs to be healed.

This book resonates deeply and profoundly within me. Its message is so powerfully authentic because it boldly challenges the violent, brutal nature of my small egoic self. The grace of living gently in a violent world is louder and more clear now as I struggle to make sense of the blood that has been shed due to an attack on one of God’s holy, innocent ones.

I have come to know the healing love of Christ as I gaze upon his broken, bleeding body on the cross. So too I have come to know the healing love of Christ through Father Bill Graney. He is the prophet who continues to live gently in a violent world.

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