Loving Our Enemies

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A noted peacemaker reflects on the most difficult of the "hard sayings" of Jesus.

Not everything Jesus taught must be regarded as a commandment.  Counsels on voluntary poverty or celibacy, for instance, have been seen as an option for a small minority of Christ's followers.  The same cannot be said about the love of enemies.  This is basic Christianity--the message Jesus taught through direct instruction, through parables, and by the example of his own life.  And yet, as Jim Forest notes, it is undoubtedly the hardest commandment of all, one that runs counter to our natural inclination and call for prayer, discernment, and constant practice.

Drawing on scripture, the lives of the saints, modern history, and personal stories, Forest offers "nine disciplines of active love," including "praying for enemies," "turning the other cheek," "forgiveness," and "recognizing Jesus in others," that make the love of enemies, if not an easier task, then a goal worth striving toward in our daily lives.

"Jim Forest reflects on the most difficult of all Jesus's sayings, and he does so in his trademark style: with wisdom, compassion and courage . . .  He shows us that while it may be a 'hard teaching' it is also a liberating one.  For forgiveness liberates not only the one forgiven but the one who forgives."  --James Martin, SJ, author, Jesus: A Pilgrimage

"A statement of the Gospel challenge and the Gospel hope so clear that it is frightening: This is real, this is possible, this cannot be written off--and this demands change here and now in me.  A book to be deeply grateful for."  --Rowan Williams, Magdalene College, Cambridge University

"Jim Forest's reflections peel back all the ideologies we Christians rely on to justify violence and war and reveal the peace that lies at the heart of the Gospel.  Jim is a superb storyteller, a master of the anecdote, a witness to the quiet power of peacemaking in the world.  These reflections and mediations should be read slowly, carefully, prayerfully, again and again."  --Michael Baxter, Associate Professor of Catholic Studies, DePaul University

"One emerges from this inspiring volume persuaded by Martin Luther King, who taught that 'this command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization,' and by Forest, who guides us to dare to believe that we are capable of such love in our lives." --Rabbi Amy Eilberg, author, From Enemy to Friend

Jim Forest is an internationally renowned peacemaker and spiritual writer.  His many books include All is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day, Living with Wisdom: A Life of Thomas Merton, Praying with Icons, and The Ladder of the Beatitudes (all Orbis).  He lives in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, and serves as Secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship.

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Book Details

Loving Our Enemies
Reflections on the Hardest Commandment
Jim Forest
b/w photos
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Loving Our Enemies Table of Contents 86 Kb