THE REMARKABLE LIFE AND WITNESS OF JIM FOREST by Nicholas Sooy

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Jim Forest

November 2, 1941 ~ January 13, 2022

Memory Eternal

(Photo: Jim Forest’s Flickr account)

On April 5, 1977, peace activist and author Jim Forest received a phone call that his friend and collaborator Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, an Argentinian peace activist, had been kidnapped by the military dictatorship and was surely being tortured. Adolfo had become a disaparecido, like thousands of others. The most likely outcome was death. From his office in the Netherlands Jim and his staff began working to free Adolfo. They had the idea to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize as a publicity stunt to embarrass the Argentinian government. Jim called two Nobelists, the peace activists Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams, and together they wrote up material to nominate him and a press release stating as much. Within hours hundreds of papers picked up the story, and fourteen months later, by some miracle, Adolfo was released. Expecting nothing more to come of this, Jim thought he had received a prank call the next summer when the Nobel committee called to inform him that they would soon announce that Adolfo had won the prize. Read More


IN HONOUR AND MEMORY OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

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Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
March in Selma. March 15, 1965.

This year marks the 93rd birthday (January 15, 1929) of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 54th anniversary (April 4, 1968) of his death. We share the following titles from Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s archives on race and white supremacy in his honour and memory.

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JIM FOREST: THE HOLINESS OF FRIENDSHIP by Paul Pynkoski

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Jim Forest. Voices for Peace Conference. April 2018. Toronto.
(Photo: Cassidy Hall)

I stood in the middle of St. Nicholas of Myra Russian Orthodox Church in Amsterdam, anxiously looking around. I was late and was desperately trying to lay eyes on Jim Forest. We were to meet there. He had agreed to give me an hour of his time after church.

I knew of Jim from reading his correspondence with Thomas Merton, and I knew that Merton’s prophetic work, Faith and Violence, had been dedicated to Jim when it was published in 1968. I knew that Jim had, along with Protestant and Catholic activists, attended a retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani in 1964, organized by Thomas Merton. Most of those who attended went on to gain the distinction of being imprisoned for their peace advocacy and civil disobedience. But I had no idea that Jim Forest was still alive until I came across a post he submitted to the International Thomas Merton Society Facebook page.

Here was a direct link to Merton and a living example of Gospel peacemaking! I immediately contacted him. I had no idea what to expect, but knowing my wife Tania and I were headed for Amsterdam in a couple months, I asked if he would be willing to meet me and talk about Merton and peacemaking. He agreed, offering an hour of his time. Read More


JIM FOREST: A EULOGY FOR MY FRIEND by Vincent van Buuren

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Jim Forest. Mount Athos. 2017.
(Photo: Vincent van Buuren)

How to start writing about a friend whose life was so full and rich that he himself could not cover it all in his own autobiography, Writing Straight with Crooked Lines? I will write more about some of my precious memories than about the biographical details which are widely known and available on the internet.

Jim and Nancy were received into the Orthodox Church in 1988. After my own conversion to Orthodoxy in 2004,  they soon became my friends. I visited them many times in their home in Alkmaar in the Netherlands. Frequently they offered me to stay for the night although the train journey home was only 45 minutes. I always gladly accepted their offer, as spending time with them was so precious for me, especially in that period of my life as I was discovering Orthodoxy. Many times I went to see them on a Friday evening. They always watched a movie on DVD on Friday evening and they introduced me to many beautiful movies that meant a lot to them. Watching a movie with them always led to an interesting conversation afterwards. Any  conversation with Jim and Nancy was interesting, as Jim was so often sharing experiences from his rich life. The people he knew—such as Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Daniel Berrigan, Thich Nat Hanh, Joan Baez, Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh and Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware)—enriched his life. He was often sharing about what knowing them meant to him. He did this also in the many books he wrote. I have most of them, some of them with a personal dedication to me by Jim. Read More