How do you get nominated for a Nobel Prize? ….. It’s not often you have the opportunity to ask that question – but I was able to do that here in the Edinburgh community to one of our visitors.  Fr John Dear SJ, is talking tonight at the Festival of Spirituality and Peace, part of the Edinburgh Festival.  He is a peace activist and writer.  He was not only nominated for a Nobel Prize, but for the big one – the Nobel Peace Prize, by none other than a former recipient – Desmond Tutu from South Africa.  Such a nomination is good for your publicity of course, and Festival organisers like to use it to get the crowds in, but what impresses me about John is that he doesn’t just do the big gigs, he also goes into schools and churches to promote his work.  In fact looking at his schedule he is going to be at Greenbelt, Birmingham,  Wigan, York, Sunderland, Garforth and London over the next ten days.

According to his resume he has been arrested over 85 times, including spending months in jail.  This seems to be part of the CV of a serious peace activist  following the tradition of non-violent action.  One of the most haunting experiences of his life was working as a Red Cross chaplain in response to the Sep 11 attacks, and then afterwards as one of the coordinators of the network of chaplains who followed up on a medium-long term basis by visiting the families of the victims.  He has just written a new book – ‘ Lazarus -Come Forth’ (his 28th book!) which is a reflection on working as a peace activist in the ‘Culture of Death’.  John Paul II coined the phrase ‘Culture of Life’ when he visited the US for World Youth Day in 1993, the Culture of Death is everything that opposes the sanctity of life including unjust war capital punishment and also abortion, euthanasia.  There has been a lot written about this in Catholic circles, especially in America where it is often used in the  rhetoric of the Culture Wars.  What I am very interested in is the development of analysis which looks at the growth of  narcissism, excessive selfishness and sometimes even sadistic humiliation that could be seen as underpinning a culture of death.  I don’t know whether this is addressed in John’s new book – I’ll have to read it and find out!

If you are interested in listening to Fr John Dear during his tour of the UK – here is a link to his web page which has details of venues, times and contacts.   Click Here