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My chapter in the new book “Conflict Transformation & Religion”

August 17, 2016

Conflict Transformation and ReligionThis is my first time to announce a new published writing of mine with both great delight and a bit of dismay.

The delight:  A wonderful new book was just released, Conflict Transformation and Religion:  Essays on Faith, Power, and Relationship (Palgrave Macmillan).  My chapter in this multiple-author book is “‘Word Made Flesh’: Toward a Pedagogy of a New We.”  I tell the story of a conflict that broke out between Rwandans and Congolese at our 2013 African Great Lakes Institute in Kampala, Uganda, and use this as a backdrop to describe the methodology we developed which seeks to bring divided “us and them” groups into a new we.

For me, our pedagogy became a response to a question which haunted me from my first visit to Rwanda in 2004 , posed by a church leader there:  “How do we form Christians who say no to killing?”  The Duke Divinity School Center for Reconciliation (where I was co-director with Emmanuel Katongole) sought to provide an answer from the world of theological education.  Could we create a school of conversion–a space that would bring together Christians from divided countries, denominations, institutions, and ethnic groups; change their hearts and minds and relationships; and form them into a community of change in the region?  The “Word Made Flesh” methodology I describe is now embedded into the Duke Summer Reconciliation Institute, the African Great Lakes Institute, and the Northeast Asia Reconciliation Initiative.  The gift of writing the chapter was to express how pedagogy can become a means of grace.  What a privilege to work with the other authors, both scholars and practitioners, and to see the various ways we approach conflict transformation and education.

The dismay:  I can barely fix my mouth to say this book costs $69.99 on the Palgrave site (an electronic version at that), and my single chapter can be purchased for the walloping price of $29.95.  My goodness, this a book, not caviar.  Still, do consider buying a copy for your church or organization, or ask your university or public library to order it. My fellow authors wrote some terrific chapters (and I am grateful for the tireless work of editor Ellen Ott Marshall of the Candler School at Emory).  Here is what Palgrave says about the book:

Writing from a variety of contexts, the contributors to this volume describe the ways that conflict and their efforts to engage it constructively shape their work in classrooms and communities. Each chapter begins with a different experience of conflict—a physical confrontation, shooting and killing, ethnic violence, a hate crime, overt and covert racism, structural violence, interpersonal conflict in a family, and the marginalization of youth. The authors employ a variety of theoretical and practical responses to conflict, highlighting the role that faith, power, and relationships play in processes of transformation.  As these teachers and ministers engage conflict constructively, they put forward novel approaches toward teaching, training, care, solidarity, and advocacy.  Their stories demonstrate how conflict can serve as a site for positive change and transformation.

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