Since the founding of ReadTheSpirit eight years ago, we have been strong supporters of Scotland’s Iona Community as well as Iona’s publishing arm: Wild Goose Publications. Over the last year or so, we’ve also been reporting on anniversaries related to World War I and II—especially focused on peacemaking.
Now, these themes are converging in an important new book, We Will SEEK PEACE and Pursue It, edited by Iona’s Neil Paynter and featuring contributions from authors around the world, including our own Benjamin Pratt.
Want to know more about our history with Iona? Use the search box on our website to see all the earlier coverage, but here are just a few examples: One of our first online series was about a pilgrimage we made to Iona; we recommended an earlier book by Neil Paynter and Jane Bentley about Iona; we’ve published a number of interviews with John Philip Newell and, this year, we recommend his latest book; plus we’ve written about famous Iona musician John Bell and others from this part of the world. The book’s subtitle is: Reflections and prayers for peace and reconciliation.
Our own popular author Benjamin Pratt contributed two prayers to this collection, marking the centennial of World War I. Both are haunting reflections on the futile nature of modern warfare and the spiritual dilemmas faced by the men and women caught up in such conflicts. These prayer-poems have obvious relevance for today’s millions of men and women in the service, veterans and their families. And that’s just one small section in the overall book.
The list of contributors to this volume includes: Lesley Orr, Iain Whyte, Paul Nicolson, Helen Steven, Alastair McIntosh, Kathy Galloway, Molly Harvey, Rosemary Power, Ruth Harvey, Jan Sutch Pickard, John Philip Newell, Mel Duncan, Jonathan Inkpin, Alison Swinfen, Peter Millar, Chris Polhill, Sally Foster-Fulton, Bonnie Thurston and Murphy Davis.
A FEW WORDS FROM NEIL PAYNTER
We asked Neil to write a few words about the purpose of this book and his hopes for the good work that this volume may do in the world.
Neil writes …
The world is marking the centenary of the First World War: the “war to end all wars,” and many folk, communities and organizations have been commemorating that in different ways.
“Peace and reconciliation” was a recent yearly theme of the Iona Community, and this book partly came out of that. Many contributors to the book are members, associates or friends of the Iona Community, which, from its beginning, has been engaged in work for peace and reconciliation. Other folk are from various grassroots organisations and communities in the UK and from around the world, like Nonviolent Peaceforce in the US. This group was co-founded by Mel Duncan, who was a volunteer on Iona. He began Nonviolent Peaceforce in part inspired by his experience on Iona and time with the Iona Community.
There’s also a contribution in the book from the Open Door Community in Atlanta. Open Door is one of the Iona Community’s sister communities; we pray for each other and keep in touch. Folk from Open Door have come to Glasgow and Iona and led weeks, and members of the Iona Community have volunteered at Open Door. Open Door is a very inspiring and prophetic community, I think. They really “walk the talk” in their work for justice and peace.
So with this book I am trying to highlight the work of people seeking peace globally and internationally–Nonviolent Peaceforce, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, Philip Newell’s interfaith work with the ‘Praying for Peace Initiative’–and folk working for peace at home– the Poverty Truth Commission in Scotland, the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland, Place for Hope among others.
The book highlights the big issues like nuclear disarmament, and celebrates folk working away quietly and steadily to make their communities more peaceful places: counselors walking alongside those who have experienced abuse, or working one-to-one with offenders.
Someone recently said to me that they found the book very rooted and grounded–compared with other books about peace that can seem “a bit fluffy.” They said they certainly didn’t find this book “fluffy.” I’m glad of that!
– Neil Paynter