Raised on western ranches and Indian reservations, Jim finished college in three years and took a Harvard masters in philosophy back to a career as a cowboy, librarian, desert guide, and seeker. This path took sharp turns when the Central American wars of the 1980s brought turmoil to the border region.
His pages move seamlessly from reopening a dried-up mountain spring, caring for goat udders, to being inspired by Don Quixote and Francis of Assisi, to dodging armed guerrillas and death squads in war-torn 1980s Central America. Jim co-created an epic sanctuary movement that brought thousands of desperate war refugees to safety – yet he did so not to disobey the law, but to uphold U. S. laws the government was itself defying daily.
As part of this work, Jim also delved into and remixed Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish theologies with Quaker peculiarities and traditions. He joined other religious activists to build an interfaith coalition with international reach and few parallels since the original Underground Railroad. It challenged presidents, coyotes, the Border Patrol, and both the Bible and the biblical God. Along the way, Jim also clearly foresaw coming climate and other social calamities, and sought to plant the seeds for a “peaceable kingdom” alternative in wilderness places like the Sonora Desert.
Few activists of our time have combined so much advocacy with Jim’s deeply reflective, desert mystic’s temperament, and wisdom. Goatwalking travels through years of war and tumult to a conclusion that, even in struggle, “The highest praise is silence.”
First published in 1991, Goatwalking is finally back in print, and it’s as timelessly mind-expanding, pioneering, and prophetic as ever.