[The book descriptions are from reviews, except those identified as mine. MAW]
Arbinger Institute, The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict, (2008) What if conflicts at home, conflicts at work, and conflicts in the world stem from the same root cause? And what if individually and collectively we systematically misunderstand that cause, and unwittingly perpetuate the very problems we think we are trying to solve?
Through an intriguing story of parents struggling with their troubled children and with their own personal problems, “The Anatomy of Peace” shows how to get past the preconceived ideas and self-justifying reactions that keep us from seeing the world clearly and dealing with it effectively. Yusuf al-Falah, an Arab, and Avi Rozen, a Jew, each lost his father at the hands of the other’s ethnic cousins. As the story unfolds, we discover how they came together, how they help warring parents and children to come together, and how we too can find our way out of the struggles that weigh us down. The choice between peace and war lies within us. As one of the characters says, “A solution to the inner war solves the outer war as well.” This book offers more than hope — it shows how we can prevent the conflicts that cause so much pain in our lives and in the world. (I have this book on audio CD’s. MAW)
Ateek, Naim Stifan, A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation (2008)
Twenty years in the writing, Canon Naim Ateek’s long awaited sequel to Justice only Justice, may prove to be the most important work ever written by a Palestinian theologian. For those who know and respect Canon Ateek and the reconciliation work of the Sabeel Liberation Theology Centre in Jerusalem, the title says it all. He is unwavering in his conviction that “Our God-given mandate is to see that an enduring peace is achieved in the Middle East” (p. xiii). The book explains the reasons for the struggle for justice; the tortuously slow progress made in the last twenty years; why successive peace agreements have failed; and why reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis is as elusive today as it was in 1948 or 1967. While brutally realistic, it is nevertheless a hopeful book, calling for justice for Palestinians, peace for Israelis and reconciliation for both.
Battle, Michael, Reconciliation: The Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu (2009)
Christianity in North America and Europe tends to buy into the Enlightenment ethos of “enlightened self-interest” and “rational individualism.” The individual as free agent is the starting point for thinking about society, and this of course reduces community to little more than a collection of individuals who come together out of self-interest. A Christianity saturated with this way of thinking about the relation between persons and society tends to focus too much on individual salvation and individual sin and too little on the Kingdom of God as communitarian ideal, collective salvation, and corporate sin. The underlying principle of Archbishop Tutu’s Christian ethics is the African notion of “ubuntu.” Ubuntu is a difficult word to translate, but it connotes community, with the understanding that it’s impossible to isolate persons from community, that there’s an organic relationship between all people such that when we see another, we should recognize (an important word for Tutu) ourselves and the God in whose image all people are made. Interdependence and reciprocity, not independence and self-sufficiency, are the keys here. As Tutu magnificently says, “A self-sufficient human being is subhuman. I have gifts that you do not have, so consequently, I am unique—you have gifts that I do not have, so you are unique. God has made us so that we will need each other. We are made for a delicate network of interdependence.”
Bhutto, Benazir, Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West (2008)
Just days prior to her assassination, the late former prime minister of troubled Pakistan completed the manuscript of this book, which held great personal importance to her. Its importance extends beyond the writer’s own sense of purpose and accomplishment, however, because it is a vastly significant document for anyone seeking to understand the nature of past and contemporary Islam and its current interface with the West. The reconciliation to which the book’s title refers is Bhutto’s chief thesis: “two critical tensions . . . must be reconciled to prevent the clash of civilizations”—the first of these tensions is internal to Islam (extremism vs. moderation) and the second involves Islam’s relations with the non-Islamic world (confrontation or cooperation). Her intense, learned discussion of the concept of jihad, her careful explication of the Qur’an’s true position on women’s equality, and her helpful pointing out of the theological differences between Sunni and Shia Muslims, among other relevant and eloquent analyses, lead her to insist that “democracy and Islam are not only compatible but mutually sustaining.” Within a chapter on the history of the relatively new country of Pakistan lies an autobiographical section in which the author details her terms in office as prime minister and the difficulties she was personally and purposefully handed by her adversaries. This book is an eloquent plea, a passionate admonition, that reconciliation as she has outlined it must indeed occur.
Camille, Alice, & Paul Boudreau, The Forgiveness Book: A Catholic Approach (2008) What is forgiveness? Why is it so hard to forgive?Award-winning authors Alice Camille and Paul Boudreau address these questions and many more by thoroughly examining what Scripture has to say about those who “trespass against us,” and what it takes to accomplish the difficult act of forgiveness—all from a distinctly Catholic point of view.
The Forgiveness Book asks tough questions and prayerfully investigates issues such as:
· Why should we forgive?
· What to do with sin?
· The importance of Confession, Contrition and Compensation
· How do we accept forgiveness?
· The power of forgiveness
· Forgiveness vs. enabling
The Appendix includes an examination of conscience, prayers of forgiveness, Bible verses on forgiveness, important books on forgiveness, and a list of films that focus on forgiveness
Chittister, Joan, God’s Tender Mercy: Reflections on Forgiveness, (2010)
(This is a lovely small book eby one of our very favorite theologians. MAW) Here Joan tackles the virtue of mercy and its connection to forgiveness. She feels strongly that most of us don’t understand either mercy or forgiveness and don’t offer them enough to others. She challenges us to stop judging, accusing, and criticizing those we label “sinners” and to see ourselves in their number. She invites us to be realistic about our own actions before we “throw that first stone” at another.
This is spiritual reading at its very best. Sister Joan’s insights invite all of us to seek holiness through receiving and then offering God’s tender mercy and forgiveness to one another. In doing so we become holy. There is no other way.
Dallen, James, The Reconciling Community: The Rite of Penance (Studies in the Reformed Rites of the Church) (1991) To disclose the underlying mystery of the Church in relation to Christ and sinners, James Dallen traces the complex development of ecclesial repentance from the Church’s first centuries to the present time. He shows that the Church has always worked with sinful members, assisting them to live out the implications of their baptismal conversion and recognizing them as members of its assemblies. It is in this history, the tradition that survives from those who have gone before marked by the sign of faith, that the Church must find the way to exercise the ministry of reconciliation today and in the future.
Forest, Jim, Confession: Doorway to Forgiveness, Jim Forest relates in his introduction that the purpose of this book is to help revive the once common practice of confession among Christians, which has been abandoned or neglected, to help the reader prepare a better confession and to help those who hear confessions better serve as Christ’s witness. The author, who describes himself as an Orthodox Christian and who lives in the Netherlands, begins with a brief history of the tradition. He draws on scripture, stories from the saints, personal experiences, and even Dostoevsky’s novels Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. Forest explains the key elements in confession and discusses the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Last Judgment, and the Prayer of Ephraim the Syrian (recited by Orthodox Christians daily throughout Lent). Forest also explores the subject of finding a confessor and offers a selection of stories about confessions culled from his friends—laypeople, nuns, monks, and priests. This informative book includes a list of biblical texts to read in preparing for confession.
Hanh, Thich Nhat, Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child, (November 1, 2010)
An exciting contribution to the growing trend of applying Buddhist practices to encourage wellness and balance mental health. Reconciliation focuses on mindful awareness of our emotions and offers concrete practices to restore damaged relationships through meditations and exercises to help acknowledge and transform the hurt that many of us may have experienced as children. Reconciliation shows how anger, sadness, and fear can become joy and tranquility by learning to breathe with, explore, meditate, and speak about our strong emotions. Written for a wide audience and accessible to people of all backgrounds and spiritual traditions.
Hauerwas, Stanley, & Jean Vanier, Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness (Resources for Reconciliation) (2008)
How are Christians to live in a violent and wounded world? Rather than contending for privilege by wielding power and authority, we can witness prophetically from a position of weakness. The church has much to learn from an often overlooked community—those with disabilities.
In this fascinating book, theologian Stanley Hauerwas collaborates with Jean Vanier, founder of the worldwide L’Arche communities. For many years, Hauerwas has reflected on the lives of people with disability, the political significance of community, and how the experience of disability addresses the weaknesses and failures of liberal society. And L’Arche provides a unique model of inclusive community that is underpinned by a deep spirituality and theology. Together, Vanier and Hauerwas carefully explore the contours of a countercultural community that embodies a different way of being and witnesses to a new order—one marked by radical forms of gentleness, peacemaking and faithfulness.
The authors’ explorations shed light on what it means to be human and how we are to live. The robust voice of Hauerwas and the gentle words of Vanier offer a synergy of ideas that, if listened to carefully, will lead the church to a fresh practicing of peace, love and friendship. This invigorating conversation is for everyday Christians who desire to live faithfully in a world that is violent and broken.
Hellwig, Monika, Sign of Reconciliation and Conversion: The Sacrament of Penance for Our Times 3rd edition (June 1984) Heuertz,Christopher L. & Christine D. Pohl, Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission (Resources for Reconciliation) (2010) In our anonymous and dehumanized world, the simple practice of friendship is radically countercultural. But sometimes Christians inadvertently marginalize and objectify the very ones they most want to serve. Chris Heuertz, international director of Word Made Flesh, and theologian and ethicist Christine Pohl show how friendship is a Christian vocation that can bring reconciliation and healing to our broken world. They contend that unlikely friendships are at the center of an alternative paradigm for mission, where people are not objectified as potential converts but encountered in a relationship of mutuality and reciprocity. When we befriend those on the margins of society by practicing hospitality and welcome, we create communities where righteousness and justice can be lived out. Heuertz and Pohl’s reflections offer fresh insight into Christian mission and what it means to be the church in the world today.
Jones, L. Gregory, and Musekura, Celestin, Forgiving As We’ve Been Forgiven: Community Practices for Making Peace (Resources for Reconciliation) (2010) Christians are supposed to forgive others as we’ve been forgiven. But hearing the call to forgive is different from knowing how to practice forgiveness at home and in the world. Forgiveness is about more than the isolated acts and words of individuals. To forgive and be forgiven, we need communal practices and disciplines for a way of life that makes for peace. Greg Jones and Célestin Musekura describe how churches and communities can cultivate the habits that make forgiveness possible on a daily basis. Following the Rwandan genocide, Musekura lost his father and other family members to revenge killings. But then he heard God tell him to forgive the killers. The healing power of forgiveness in his own life inspired him to work for forgiveness and reconciliation across Africa. Jones, author of Embodying Forgiveness, interacts with Musekura’s story to show how people can practice forgiveness not only in dramatic situations like genocide but also in everyday circumstances of marriage, family and congregational life. Together they demonstrate that forgiving and being forgiven are mutually reciprocating practices that lead to transformation and healing.
Katongole, Emmanuel & Chris Rice, Reconciling All Things: A Christian Vision for Justice, Peace and Healing (Resources for Reconciliation)
This book inaugurates the Resources for Reconciliation series, a joint venture of the publisher and Duke Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation. The two authors, codirectors of the center, bring perspectives that pair perfectly: Catholic and evangelical Protestant, African and American, academic and practitioner, ordained and lay. Each also brings powerful life experience in confronting oppression and injustice: Katongole grew up under Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and lived near the Rwandan genocide. After growing up a missionary kid in South Korea, Rice worked for 17 years in an urban ministry in Jackson, Miss. Against a background of difference, the two argue for a vision of reconciliation that is neither trendy nor pragmatically diplomatic, neither cheaply inclusive nor heedless of the past. The reconciliation they explain and hold out hope for is distinctively Christian: a God-ordained transformation of the consequences of the fall into the new creation spoken about by the apostle Paul. Deeply theological, this short book needs slow reading by anyone interested in harnessing the power of the spirit for social change.
Linn, Dennis & Matthew, & Sheila Fabricant Linn, Don’t Forgive Too Soon: Extending the Two Hands That Heal, 1997 This discussion of forgiveness and its relationship to the five stages of grief is very helpful to anyone seeking to resolve conflicts in relationships past and present. The book is useful in helping the reader discover deeper issues of unforgiveness and gives careful and helpful guidance as to how to resolve these issues.
Linn, Dennis & Matthew, & Sheila Fabricant Linn, Good Goats: Healing Our Image of God , 1993 A fully illustrated, full-color book that, through a blending of story, scripture and theology, tackles questions of sin, hell, and vengeance in such a way that readers are led to transformation and healing in the midst of a loving, merciful and saving God.
Linn, Dennis & Matthew, & Sheila Fabricant Linn, Sleeping with Bread, Holding What Gives You Life, 1995, Matthew Linn, a Jesuit priest, his brother Dennis Linn and sister-in-law Sheila Fabricant Linn are well known writers and retreat speakers, especially in the area of healing life’s hurts. Here, they look at the Ignatian prayer practice of the examen and helps readers learn this method of self examination and reflection which can help us become more aware of God’s presence in our lives on a daily basis. The book begins with a story of children in World War II England who had to vacate their homes due to fighting. The children had a difficult time falling asleep at night, fearing they would lose their lives. Someone had the idea of giving each child a piece of bread as a means of comfort and the children were able to sleep, knowing that they had food that day and with the bread in hand, they would have bread the next day too. The Linns expand this idea to show how the things in our own lives, those things which sustain us, comfort us one day and give us hope for the next.
The book discusses not only the personal examen, but offers suggestions and stories about groups that have used the prayer, families that have grown closer to each other and to God using the prayer, and suggestions for varied ways of using the prayer. The book is easy to read with colorful illustrations which give it an inviting feel which will help the reader identify what is important, hold on to it, and if the spirit if the examen is kept, will see God’s presence in daily life.
Marsh, Charles, & John M. Perkins, Welcoming Justice: God’s Movement Toward Beloved Community (Resources for Reconciliation) (2009)
It was not that long ago that African Americans and other minorities were excluded from many spheres of American public life. We have seen remarkable progress in recent decades toward Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of beloved community. But this is not only because of the activism and sacrifice of a certain generation of civil rights leaders. It happened because God was on the move. Historian and theologian Charles Marsh partners with veteran activist John Perkins to chronicle God’s vision for more equitable and just world. They show how the civil rights movement was one important episode in God’s larger movement throughout human history of pursuing justice and beloved community. Perkins reflects on his long ministry and identifies key themes and lessons he has learned, and Marsh highlights the legacy of Perkins’s work in American society. Together they show how abandoned places are being restored, divisions are being reconciled, and what individuals and communities are now doing to welcome peace and justice. The God Movement continues yet today. Come, discover your part in the beloved community. There is unfinished work still to do.
Morneau, Robert, Reconciliation,(2007) (Catholic Spirituality for Adults series, Orbis) Bishop Morneau takes us inside the Sacrament of Reconciliation and shows us how the power of Jesus’ mercy can transform our lives. He also inspires us to express forgiveness and mercy to those we know and those we don’t know. Readers come to know the compassion of Jesus in their daily life. Here is wonderful spiritual reading that is also useful for group discussion.
Myers, Ched, & Elaine Enns, Ambassadors of Reconciliation: New Testament Reflections on Restorative Justice and Peacemaking (2009) Ched Myers’ new book, written with his wife Elaine Enns, is a two volume work on a Christian discipleship of restorative justice and peacemaking. Volume one, reviewed briefly here, describes the New Testament basis for this work. St. Paul called on followers of Christ to be “ambassadors of reconciliation.” In reflections on this and other New Testaments texts, Ched Myers and Elaine Enns offer a lens for re-reading the entire biblical tradition as a resource for the cause of “restorative justice” and peacemaking. In the first volume Myers and Enns provide a robust and provocative reading of four important passages from the New Testament that get beyond the typical prooftexts on this topic, and demonstrate the central place of restorative justice and peacemaking in the biblical view of discipleship. These passages are well chosen (in order of treatment they are 1 Cor 5:16-6:13, Mark 1-3, Matthew 18, and the entire book of Ephesians!) and the exegesis is typical of Myers’ previous works in being illuminating, provocative and compelling.
Myers, Ched, & Elaine Enns, Ambassadors of Reconciliation: Diverse Christian Practices of Restorative Justice and Peacemaking (2009) The term “restorative justice” refers to a social movement that seeks to repair interpersonal, communal, and social injuries without recourse to violence or retribution. From its origins in the criminal justice arena restorative justice has been applied in schools, homes, and in the workplace. This volume focuses on stories of restorative justice in action.
Sofield, Loughlan, Carroll Julian, & Gregory Aymond, Facing Forgiveness: A Catholic’s Guide to Letting Go of Anger and Welcoming Reconciliation (2007)
Out of the wealth of their shared experience, authors Sofield, Juliano, and Aymond have fashioned an inviting exploration of the process of forgiveness that blends compelling personal narrative, wise spiritual guidance, and sound practical suggestions. Written with Catholics in mind, this simple primer is designed to encourage the first steps in the process of forgiving with over twenty-five stories of real people who found their way to forgiveness or sometimes who choose not to forgive. As readers look into the faces of the wounded people profiled in this book they recognize forgiveness is indeed possible.
Tutu, Archbishop Desmond, & Douglas Carlton Abrams, God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time (2004) (I think this may be the best choice for a book club; it has eight groups of questions in the back. Also, there is a child’s version, listed below, which is very sweet. MAW)
Reading this book is like having a long, and somewhat homiletical, afternoon tea with former Archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Tutu. Four years after No Future Without Forgiveness, Tutu’s reflection on his role as Chairman of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, comes this deeply personal book that Tutu calls “a cumulative expression of my life’s work.” Each chapter begins “Dear Child of God,” and goes on to reflect on vulnerability, transfiguration and the human condition with winding anecdotes from Tutu’s personal and public life, stories he delivers with his trademark humor and a deceptive simplicity. For example, when Tutu says we are all one family, what emerges is not some churchy optimism, but a highly developed theology of relationship, what Tutu has earlier called ubuntu (“a person is a person through other people”), with political as well as interpersonal implications. This book is highly readable, perhaps because, like other Tutu books, it is culled in large part from lectures and sermons delivered in Tutu’s very public life. That this book aims for more than an afternoon tea becomes clear at its close: we are God’s partners, Tutu exhorts. We are humanized or dehumanized in and through our actions toward others. Tutu grounds this appeal most concretely, ending with a list of Web sites from organizations that need more partners for their outreach. At the end, a Postscript” includes 12 pages of Questions for Reflection and Discussion, divided into 8 sections. Each question references pages in the book
Tutu, Archbishop Desmond (Author), Douglas Carlton Abrams (Author), Leuyen Pham (Illustrator), God’s Dream (2008) Coaut hors of the adult book God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time (2004), South African Nobel Peace Prize–winner Tutu and writer Abrams team up once again, this time with illustrator Pham, to create a picture book about a subject dear to them all. In a series of energetic scenes, a multicultural cast of toddlers follow God’s dreams about people caring, sharing (the picture shows kids inviting a shy boy to join their circle), and playing together. Adding a touch of drama is the elemental scene in which two kids get in a fight: a girl chases a boy and grabs his ball. He cries, and she feels sad; God cries with them. The large, digitally enhanced pictures, alive with color and pattern, make clear the hurt, anger, and regret. Finally, the two fighters make up, and they join a big circle of laughing kids, finding brothers and sisters from everywhere. Praying together are Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Christians, and more. A book to talk about at preschool and at home, especially after disagreements flare. Preschool-Kindergarten.
Tutu, Archbishop Desmond and Mpho Tutu, Made for Goodness: And Why This Makes All the Difference (2010)
As head of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Tutu reached a world audience in his call for forgiveness for apartheid perpetrators who confessed to horrific evil and said they were sorry. Writing here with his daughter, also a minister, he insists that, with all the horror he has heard about and witnessed, We are fundamentally good. Racism has to be learned. It is not an instinct. Sin is real. But goodness is normative. Even readers not focused on the religious debate will be drawn to this account for the insider’s view of the history and the personal struggle with forgiveness. Inspired by heroes of many faiths, including Father Trevor Huddleston; Afrikaaans cleric Beyers Naude; the kids in the 1976 Soweto riots; the parents of murdered Amy Biehl; and, of course, by Mandela, Gandhi, King, and Mother Teresa, Tutu is also haunted by his own failure to forgive his father before he died. The personal perspective will spark discussion about the bigger issues of morality, politics, and religion. If God is all-powerful, why do we suffer?
Tutu, Archbishop Desmond, No Future Without Forgiveness, (1999), Desmond Tutu tells the story of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), formed to address the countless crimes against humanity committed on all sides in apartheid’s dark history. Rather than burden the new nation with potentially endless criminal trials wherein the accused are constrained to defend themselves against the threat of imprisonment and victims can only expect state-mandated retribution as a form of justice, the TRC gave victims and the accused the opportunity to simply tell their stories. Tutu shows how letting victims and perpetrators face each other as humans fostered courageous acts of penitence and forgiveness that serve as symbols for their nation and the world. Tutu offers a faith-filled, largely positive portrait of the work of the TRC, but does not gloss over real barriers to true reconciliation.
Mary Wilmes 2011-01-11