As a peace activist, biographer, and lover of silence, author Jim Forest’s deep humility and sincere way of being reveal to us much about listening, truly seeing, and deeply caring for our fellow human beings.
“The day starts in silence… and silence normally — not always, but normally — opens the door to prayer, so prayer and silence are very connected; sometimes the prayer is silence.” — Jim Forest
Describing himself as “an undergraduate student at Dorothy Day university” — and noting that he doesn’t think he will ever graduate! — Jim Forest tells the story of a truly remarkable life — the child of American communists growing up in the 1950s, he tried his hand in the U.S. Navy but soon dropped out from the service to immerse himself in the world of the Catholic Worker Movement and anti-war activism, that led him to (among other things) co-founding the Catholic Peace Fellowship after the “Spiritual Roots of Peacemaking” retreat convened by Thomas Merton in 1964.
“Like arrows, words point, but they are not the target.” — Jim Forest
Cassidy Hall recorded this conversation while participating in the “Voices of Peace” conference in Toronto in April 2018. Their gentle and intimate conversation explores art, philosophy, politics, the Eucharist, and spirituality — and how silence dances through all these dimensions of life.
With stories about legendary figures like peace activist A. J. Muste, Henri Nouwen, Thich Nhat Hanh, and (of course) Thomas Merton, this conversation provides deep and rich insight into a man who not only knew some of the great peace activists of the twentieth century, but who was indeed one of their number.
“Without silence, we don’t hear anything.” — Jim Forest
Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode:
- Jim Forest, The Ladder of the Beatitudes
- Jim Forest, Praying with Icons
- Jim Forest, Road to Emmaus
- Jim Forest, Living with Wisdom: A Life of Thomas Merton
- Jim Forest, All is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day
- Jim Forest, At Play in the Lion’s Den: A Biography and Memoir of Daniel Berrigan
- Thomas Merton, Essential Writings
- Dorothy Day, Loaves and Fishes
- Daniel Berrigan, Essential Writings
- Thich Nhat Hanh, Essential Writings
- Cassidy Hall and Patrick Shen, Notes on Silence
- Patrick Shen (dir.), In Pursuit of Silence
- Jim Forest, The Root of War is Fear: Thomas Merton’s Advice to Peacemakers
- A. J. Muste, Nonviolence in an Aggressive World
- Thomas Merton, The Literary Essays (Includes “The Message to Poets”)
- Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness
- Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out
- Jim Forest, Saint George and the Dragon
- Jim Forest, Saint Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins
- Jim Forest, Silent as a Stone: Mother Maria of Paris and the Trash Can Rescue
Visit Jim and Nancy Forest’s website www.jimandnancyforest.com.
Episode 20: Silence and Peacemaking: A Conversation with Jim Forest
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
Introduced by: Kevin Johnson
Guest: Jim Forest
Date Recorded: April 27, 2018