The Rev. Ed Bacon, pastor of All Saints Church, writes about ‘The 8 Habits of Love’
By Carl Kozlowski 09/20/2012
As the rector of All Saints Church for the past 17 years, Rev. Ed Bacon has experienced battles with the IRS, helped lead the fight for gay marriage and strongly protested against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But when Bacon sat down to write a book for the first time, he decided not to focus on his fights but rather on the overarching message of love’s importance that he garnered from them and his years at the pulpit.
“The 8 Habits of Love” is in bookstores everywhere now, building on Bacon’s successful efforts to spread his message via his frequent guest appearances on Oprah’s “Soul Series” on Oprah and Friends Radio and as a panelist on the “Spirituality 101” segment of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” In fact, Bacon notes that the very idea of writing a book came from Winfrey herself — when she invited him to be part of a panel discussion on spirituality and noted that he was the only person on the panel who had not written a book. He soon had offers from a dozen agents eager to work with him.
“I’ve long been interested in the dynamics of love and fear, and I have noted that the most frequent injunction in scripture is, ‘Do not fear’ and that Jesus said, ‘Perfect love casts out fear,’” says Bacon. “I know the impact of love and fear on one’s brain, body, relationships and systems. I know that all of us have our fears, but when we become our fears life becomes distorted, we are less than who God created us to be, and we cannot become our authentic selves. So I’ve written a book about eight habits we can practice to keep fear from taking over the driver’s seat of our lives.”
According to Bacon, the eight habits are generosity, stillness, truth, candor, play, forgiveness, compassion and community, but there are two that he feels are truly key to a loving life.
“Some people thought stillness was foundational to them all, but generosity was the one for me. I don’t hide the fact that I’m a Christian clergyperson, but I’m writing this from an interfaith perspective, as well as a bow of respect to atheists,” explains Bacon, who recently spent a week in private on a silent retreat. “Stillness is akin to prayer that can be used across all of these belief structures, and generosity is important because a truly happy life is one that is thankful for the blessings one has received but is yet willing to give them forward to others.”
A native of the small-town of Jesup, Ga., Bacon, 64, grew up in a politically and theologically conservative home as the son of a Baptist minister before attending Mercer University with the hopes of becoming a doctor. While studying at Mercer, Bacon slowly developed his vision of “inclusive compassion and justice for everyone,” an effort that was driven by a surprise encounter with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Atlanta airport in 1967.
Inspired by King’s courage and compassion, Bacon realized that his true calling was the ministry, not medicine. He also decided that he no longer felt at home with the conservative theology of the Baptist faith with which he was raised and, while studying for the ministry, opted to become an Episcopal priest. That switch, which required him to follow his spirit as well as his heart, forms the very basis of his key life philosophy to this day.
“We all have fear rooted in us and taught to us in some ways, but that shuts us down and makes us less open and accepting of others,” says Bacon. “When we operate out of love, we are open to the world and those around us and able to welcome and include those people and experiences that are different from us.”
“The 8 Habits of Love” is available at bookstores everywhere and at various online sites. For more information, visit 8habitsoflove.com.