My Two Favorite Books

My first all-time favorite book is the Holy Bible. It is made up of Old and New Testaments that give testimony to God’s redeeming action on behalf of all creation. It is the account of God’s love and mercy with a rebellious people who do not deserve His grace. It is through the Scriptures that I can hear God’s voice, learn who I am, what my vocation is and what it means to be like Jesus in His Kingdom while I anxiously await His second coming.

My second all-time favorite book is my passport. It is small but it allows me countless adventures that have shaped who I am today. This book has taken me places I never dreamed of going – rural towns in the Andes Mountains, indigenous villages in the Brazilian Amazon, South American shantytowns, gigantic Latin American capitals. Thanks to this little book, I have learned to communicate in four languages. I have met and interacted with people from literally all over the planet.

I will continue to give away copies of the Bible whenever I can. But sadly, I cannot give anyone a copy of my passport – it would useless to anyone else.

IMG_3732Thanks to my reading of book 1 and my frequent use of book 2, I have spent much time reflecting on what it means for Jonathan Hanegan to be Jesus in today’s world. This Spirit-guided reflection is born out of the reading of Scripture and an experience-with-God. It is also shaped by the living testimony of other brothers and sisters in Christ.

Some people I dearly love have shown some concern regarding the way I see the world. For the moment, we have arrived at different interpretations of Jesus’s exhortation to love our neighbors. We disagree on what it means to pledge allegiance solely to God’s Kingdom. We understand differently our call to be peacemakers in a war-torn world.

I appreciate your concern. I appreciate your patience with me. And I solicit your prayers as I continue to wrestle with what it looks like to be Jesus to everyone I meet.

My website and my Facebook profile are a microcosm of what I think “the good life” is. I share pictures of my family, friends, church activities, books I am reading as well as essays and news articles that I think are important. If you disagree with what I write or post, I ask that you comment respectfully and help me understand what you believe and why it is important to you. If at all possible, let’s do it over coffee!

My prayer is that all I say, do and represent rings true with Jesus’ person, ministry and message of peace, love and reconciliation that our world desperately needs.

Leo Tolstoy’s Pacifist Anarchism

Leo Tolstoy is well known for his novels, War and Peace and Anna Karenina. He is less well known for his short stories. The stories that we read in our last meeting were rather didactic and straight-forward. The author left very little to the reader’s imagination.

This can be seen as a lack of literary style or creativity. While there is no doubt the author could have embellished his stories or made them into mini-masterpieces, it appears that his desire goes far beyond writing good literature.

Young Leo TolstoyTolstoy was well known for his criticism of the Russian nobility and their ostentatious lifestyles. More than once he wanted to run away from his life as a Russian noble. He understood human flourishing as much more than having and administrating goods. His idea of being human had much more to with being good.

Our society today is more interested in “dealing goods” than in “being good”. While culturally and most certainly geographically, Russia may be thousands of kilometers from Buenos Aires, Tolstoy’s call for a more humane society rings true today in this place.

Tolstoy is also known for being an anarcho-pacifist. He insisted on nonviolent resistance as the path for a more humane society. He did not believe in the myth of redemptive violence — the idea that violence can end violence. His ideas not only found a great following in Russia, but in India and in the well with people like Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tolstoy asks us today through his stories, “what do you see when you look at other people?” “Can you look past what defines them socially?” “Can you look your neighbor in the eye and see him for who he or she truly is?” His prophetic voice was certainly not silenced by his death. He is, in many ways, still present with us today.

Leo Tolstoy