Pursuing Peace

By Albert N. Wells
Rainbow. 2002. 264 pp. Pb. $14.95.ISBN 1-56825-082-7

— reviewed by Albert C. Winn, Winston-Salem, N.C.

The year 2002 does not appear to be a good time for publishing a book on the pursuit of peace. But Al Wells has done it, despite the widespread approval of national policies of war and retaliation which has followed the horrendous breach of peace on Sept. 11, 2001. On the cover of this book, the subtitle "It’s the Thing to Do" is altered by an insertion that makes it read, "It’s still the Thing to Do."

As I read the book I was hoping to find a blueprint for world peace and a strategy, political or otherwise, for achieving it. But the author has a deeper wisdom, which finally came clear to me as I read Ch. 10. “World peace” is the peace “that the world gives” (John 14:27), and we should not expect it to match the peace that Christ gives! So Wells is not talking about replacing the ancient pax Romana, or the current, chancy pax Americana, with a pax Christi. He is talking about the faithful pursuit of peace in a world filled with un-peace.

That pursuit takes him into many areas, some of which have not usually been associated with peace work. We can pursue peace, Wells says, by relearning how to play, by accepting our justification by faith, by adopting a simple lifestyle, by loving those who are different, by identifying the real enemy, by practicing non-violence, by caring for the Earth, by facing our own death.

How do we pursue peace in the area of public policy? Modern secular society simply will not accommodate a direct Christian political solution to the problems of war and violence. But we can work for public standards and goals that will move society in the direction of true peace. These will include: fairness, freedom, love, accountability, sustainability and interdependence.

One is impressed by the breadth of Wells’ reading. The abundant footnotes cite many, many sources in addition to the three-page “partial bibliography.” He is a collector of apt quotations, and the book is a veritable treasure-house of them. Good reading for peace advocates who have been disheartened and silenced by the current atmosphere!