“Eye for an Eye”

I learned many things about the ideas and people who influenced Dr. Martin Luther King this past week.
Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
Mahatma Gandhi’s influence Mahatma Gandhi’s influence on Martin Luther King Jr. adopting “passive resistance” and “non-violence” as grounding principles for his civil rights must have solidified during his visit to India in 1959. I was surprised to learn that Gandhi’s attitude toward British oppression was inspired by the Russian Christian Anarchist Leo Tolstoy’s writings particularly the book first published in 1894 in Germany but banned in Russia, The Kingdom of God Is Within You

Leo Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God Is Within You
Leo Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God Is Within You
As I delved a little deeper, it made sense that Martin Luther King a Baptist Minister inspired by the non aggressive attitudes Jesus taught during his life on earth would be inspired by Gandhi who lived those very principles of non-violence. Gandhi not only preached non-retaliation he lived it, he put his own life in jeopardy to stop the violence that threatened to destroy the brand new India following British withdrawal. Martin Luther King showed the same kind courage facing racial hatred and violence. Acting on the impulse to take revenge, is our first instinctual response. The “fight” response feels good and righteous. “Eye for an Eye” is deep in our psyche. “We ought to compel ourselves to resist evil”, says Swedenborg in his seminal work, Heaven and Hell “and to do good as of self but at the same time acknowledge that it is from the Lord.” Hitting back, firing the gun and dropping a bomb may be our first response but it never leads to peace; it only fuels more violence. Resisting the impulse to take revenge is the way to peace and reconciliation. Mahatma Gandhi’s defining moment is captured in this clip. He refused to validate the raging impulses of his people burning for revenge. Eye for and Eye
How do we respond to the violence suffered by millions of people across much of the world? Are we able to see our own violent tendencies and resist them the way Jesus taught us? Do we hear his words, “it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Matthew 5:38-40.
Living a non-violent way of life is as much counter culture today as it was in the time of Jesus. But today, great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and others’ exemplary lives of non-violence can inspire us to live in a way that does no harm to others. The film “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”
Pray the Devil Back to Hell
Pray the Devil Back to Hell
documents a peace movement called the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. Organized by a social worker Leymah Gbowee, the movement started with praying and singing in a fish market. Leymah Gbowee organized the Christian and Muslim women of Monrovia, Liberia to pray for peace and to organize nonviolent protests.

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Gabriella was born in Budapest Hungary. Some of her family still resides in Hungary. After escaping the Communist regime in the aftermath of the 1956 Revolution, Gabriella's family settled in Cleveland OH. She graduated from Cleveland Heights High School and attended college but did not earn a degree. She met her husband in Devon PA, and soon they were married and began family life in PA. Only a few years married, John and Gabriella moved to FL to be with Gabriella's aging parents. Two o their three children were born Florida. After the children began school, Gabriella volunteered in schools and libraries. Her love for swimming drew her into the world of aquatics. Part time coaching jobs evolved into career aquatic management. Her children out of the home, Gabriella worked full time as an aquatic manger, coach and swim instructor. In 2001, John and Gabriella's plans to ease into retirement in Tucson changed drastically when John suffered a heart attack in 2002. John’s amazing recovery after bypass surgery allowed Gabriella to seek a new career. It was a life changing experience for both of them. Gabriella returned to school at the University of AZ and John took over household responsibilities. A shift occurred in their lives. Gabriella felt called to become a spiritual care provider. Preparing for seminary, she chose interdisciplinary program, combining Psychology, Family and Religious Studies. She graduated with honors in 2006. Gabriella and John moved to Berkeley for her to begin seminary at the Pacific School of Religion. Gabriella was accepted on the ordination track in the Swedenborgian Church of North America. Her goal was to becoming a chaplain. John's health crisis necessitated a move from Berkeley back to Tucson in 2008. Gabriella transferred to Earlham School of Religion to complete the Master’s program. In her senior year, working in required Supervised Ministry, Gabriella created a dual ministry; Circle Community, a sharing, praying and studying support group and worked as a crisis advocate in Tucson area hospitals. Most of her family was present in Cincinnati OH when Gabriella was ordained in July 2012. In July of 2011 she was ordained in the Swedeborgian Church and accepted a call to be the pastor of the New Church of Southwest FL. Soon after her ordination Gabriella accepted a call to become the pastor to the New Church of Southwest FL in 2011. John, a VA patient needed comprehensive medical care unavailable in Fort Myers. For Gabriella ministry begins at home. Once again new a health crisis changed their life. They moved back to Tucson AZ. Back in Tucson, Gabriella found ministry opportunities with Circle Community, did workshops and conducted weekly Prayer Meditations at Rincon U.C.C. She completed a course in Spiritual Direction at the Hesychia School for Spiritual Direction. In mid October 2012, Gabriella began to work as a Chaplain for Harmony Hospice. The job all she had expected. She found great satisfaction working with patients and their families. Gabriella left the per diem position with Harmony for a full time job with Valor HospiceCare. Here too, she worked with grieving families, conducted grief support groups and lead Community Memorial services during the same time that her husband's health was spiraling downwards. Gabriella resigned her job to care for John in the last months of his life. John died in April 2014. Life became chaotic. An intense search a chaplain position in Tucson and other parts of the country was unsuccessful. Peers suggested Gabriella look into open churches with the Swedenborgian Church. She candidated in Kansas with two churches. She was called to pastor the Pretty Prairie and Pawnee Rock churches in July 2014. A new life began with the move to rural Kansas. In August 2014, Gabriella began to serve as the Pastor of the two churches.

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