Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 63, Issue 5–6, pp 625–639 | Cite as

The Way It Is and the Way It Could Be: Fear, Lessness and the Quest for Fearless Dialogues™

  • Gregory C. EllisonII


“Fearless Dialogues™ is the Civil Rights Movement of the 21st century,” says Dr. Bernard Lafayette, an original Freedom Rider and internationally renowned human rights activist. This article examines the history and philosophy of a burgeoning movement called Fearless Dialogues™, which seeks to alter the perspective of how we see and hear those who are perceived to be marginal. Drawing wisdom from a hard, heartfelt conversation documented in Ralph Ellison’s essay, “The Way It Is,” this interdisciplinary article utilizes resources from 20th and 21st century mystics to examine four primary fears that stifle dialogue and introduces an attitude of “lessness” that is necessary to create perspectival change.


Fearless dialogues™ Fear Less Lessness Mysticism Activism Ralph Ellison Howard Thurman Parker Palmer Henri Nouwen Caring with marginalized populations The Selfless Way Temptations of Jesus 



In the past twelve months, hundreds of people have pointed me to the way, but the following fellow sojourners have kept me on the path: Antoinette Ellison, Gregory Ellison III, Anaya Ellison, Darren Ellison, Rodney Shamery, Andrea Hampton, Quentin Samuels, Alisha “Radio” Gordon, Mekhael “MC” Francois, De Amon Harges, Mari Evans, Floyd Wood, Shaundra Smith, Lynn Miller, Michael Jones, Don Richter, Carmen and Michael Thompson, Parker and Sharon Palmer, and Ed and Barbara Brown Taylor. For the wise teachings of the named and the unnamed, I am most grateful.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Candler School of Theology at Emory UniversityAtlantaUSA

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