Interfaith and activism: a place where mystics meet

From Curtiss Paul Deyoung

Video Interview Transcript

As we look at these activists many of them are connected with people from other religious faiths and their work for activism. One thing that struck me was that where people tend to unite is two places when you're talking about activists. Activists around the cause. So if you've got a shared cause that'll bring people across many different lines and boundaries and different religious. And then mystics find each other and tend to speak of God in terms that don't have a sort of tradition language or denominational language. King was always, you look at his marches, you see Jewish rabbis involved, clergy as he began to talk about the Vietnam War and the evil of that you see connections more with with Buddhist monks and particular like Thich Naht Hanh who was involved with him. He was quietly in the last years of Malcolm X life the last year of his life was having conversations with Malcolm X about the possibility of working together. And their ability to do this as religious leaders was because they really framed their religious understanding in many of the same ways that it was a mixture of justice and prayer. That's what Bonhoeffer said is the only true religion really when you get down to it. It's taking action for justice and being a person of prayer. And that's kind of what brought all these folks together. And even as King, in his last days, some of the Mystics like Thich Naht Hanh and Howard Thurman and Thomas Merton were gathering around him to try to bring him on retreat, an interfaith interracial group of spiritual guides to help King continue to move forward.

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