CROSSING BORDERS WITH ELIAS AMIDON AND ELIZABETH ROBERTS:
A BIOGRAPHY OF ENGAGED SPIRITUAL LIVES
By Candace Walworth
An Abstract of the Thesis Presented
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
February 25, 2008
This biographical dissertation examines the partnership of Elias Amidon and Elizabeth Roberts, two spiritually based social activists; through interviews, the piece touches upon many topics, which include relevant social movements and spiritual lineages, including global citizen diplomacy, peace teams, deep ecology and environmental education, engaged Buddhism, and Sufism of the Inayat Khan lineage. The purpose of the research is to contribute to an understanding of engaged spiritual life through an exploration of the lives and works of Elias Amidon and Elizabeth Roberts.
Amidon and Roberts have been active in peace, social justice, and environmental movements for the past 30 years. This biography explores turning points in their lives and the larger historical and social movements that they have helped shape, and have been shaped by, thus illuminating a larger story of socially engaged spirituality.
The researcher draws upon Amidon and Roberts’ published and unpublished writings, secondary materials, oral interviews, and material artifacts. The dissertation includes a literature review that draws selectively upon sources within the broadly defined field of interpretive research (specifically biographical inquiry) and a research methods chapter.
While narratives by and about the most well-known exemplars of socially engaged spirituality are critical to our understanding of ourselves and our world, by themselves them are incomplete. We also need the vision and practical example provided by stories of citizen-activists, such as Elias Amidon and Elizabeth Roberts. Like hundreds of thousands of citizen-activists around the world, their stories—and the stories of the local and transnational movements for nonviolent social change that they have helped create—are largely unknown. By providing an in-depth study of two contemporary spiritually-based social activists, Crossing Borders addresses this near invisibility problem.