Item description for Peacework: Prayer, Resistance, Community by Henri J. M. Nouwen...
Peacework: Prayer, Resistance, Community by Henri J. M. Nouwen
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Studio: Orbis Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.25" Weight: 0.6 lbs.
Release Date Mar 1, 2005
Publisher Orbis Books
ISBN 1570755930 ISBN13 9781570755934
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More About Henri J. M. Nouwen
Henri J. M. Nouwen has found a wide receptive audience to his books on modern spirituality. He was a teacher of pastoral theology at Notre Dame, the Yale Divinity School and at Harvard University. He was also a frequent visitor and "family brother" at the Abbey of the Genesee in upstate New York. His many books include The Return of the Prodigal Son, Reaching Out, Clowning in Rome, With Open Hands, Making All Things New, Out of Solitude, and The Genesee Diary. He died in his native Netherlands in 1996.
Henri J. M. Nouwen was born in 1932 and died in 1996.
Henri J. M. Nouwen has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Peacework: Prayer, Resistance, Community?
A spirituality of peacemaking Jan 2, 2008
It never fails. Every time I open a Nouwen book I haven't read, or revisit one I have, it only takes a few pages for me to say to myself, "Man this guy is simplistic! What do people see in him?!" But then it only takes a few more pages for me to reawaken to why so many people love Nouwen, and why I keep coming back to him. True, he is a bit repetitious, and every so often descends into bathos. But for the most part, his "simplicity" is really a pure-hearted exploration of what it means to be human. Nouwen speaks to us because he honestly relates to our wounds, our hopes, our fears, our joys, our timidity, and our soul hunger, and he absolutely refuses to speak in the abstract. He is, in the best sense, an existentialist.
As a longtime Christian peace activist, I was delighted when John Dear edited Nouwen's manuscript on peace for Orbis (although it's taken me two years to finally get around to reading it!). True to form, my initial "This guy is too simplistic" response soon became admiration and gratitude.
What Nouwen has done here, as he says at book's end (p. 123) is "to develop a spirituality for peacemakers." In that regard, the book's title is a bit misleading, because it gives the impression that Nouwen is concerned with peace activism, and anyone who reads it with that presumption is going to be frustrated.
Nouwen says that peacemaking is central to being a Christian (p. 16), that Jesus' call to peacemaking is "unconditional, unlimited, and uncompromising" (p. 17). To prepare ourselves to honor this call, Christians must cultivate prayer, resistance, and community. Nouwen's discussion of them will not be unfamiliar to readers of his other books.
Prayer is the active listening to God's word that allows us to dwell in the house of God, where we are unconditionally loved and accepted, rather than in the house of fear, ambition, resentment, insecurity, and anxiety that our personal and collective wounds build (pp. 34-36). When we enter into God's presence in prayer, we know that we're already loved, thus having nothing to prove to ourselves or others, and that we have nothing to fear. As Thich Nhat Hanh might put it, we move from the bondage of ill-being to the freedom of well-being, and thereby prepare ourselves for the dangerous work of peacemaking.
Resistance is the refusal to be seduced by the power of death or infatuated by the titillating displays of death that permeate our culture. It's saying NO to the culture of death that surrounds us. At the same time, it's also refusing to make the harsh judgments of others that Nouwen sees as a form of moral killing (p. 60). But resistance is also a yea-saying, a trustful affirmation of humanity (including the humanity of our "enemies") and the gift of life. This yea-saying (which, in a culture of death, is an especially powerful form of resistance) is built on the spiritual gifts of humility, compassion, and joy.
Community, which isn't defined as merely a faith tradition or a denomination, much less a specific parish, is that place which, through prayer and gratitude, resists the increasing isolation of our lives. Isolated resistance leads to burn-out, because we quickly realize our powerlessness in relation to the culture of death. But in community, we reaffirm that vulnerability in fact is a source of great strength and grace (p. 110). Community is the place in which the risen Christ, the most vulnerable of all humans, is celebrated and experienced, which in turn encourages gratitude, a response that Nouwen sees as absolutely necessary for a peacemaker (p. 118).
Nouwen is especially strong in his chapters on prayer and resistance. His chapter on community, which seems in part to be inspired by Dan Berrigan's call for "communities of resistance," is rather limp by comparison. It was written before Nouwen found the community for which he'd been seeking at L'Arche, and I suspect it's more of the cry of a lonely heart than anything else.
Two final points that are worth pointing out. Nouwen insists that a spirituality of peacemaking is essential because without it, peacemakers too often tend to demonize those who disagree with them, or fall into the trap of resentment, burnout, and hatred. The second point is just as important. Christian peacemaking is about witnessing, not victory or success. The Christian peacemaker witnesses to God's love, and in so doing hopefully converts. But his or her task is to witness, not to succeed. Let God take care of the results. This is a point that Dorothy Day frequently made, and which people like Stanley Hauerwas in our day and time likewise affirm. It's well worth noting.
From Orbis Books: Sep 27, 2005
Henri Nouwen wrote this book twenty years ago as his personal response in a time of heightening Cold War tensions. Its publication now, in a new era of fear and violence, is particularly timely. On the one hand this book represents a passionate call to all Christians to embrace Jesus' ethic of peacemaking as an "unconditional, unlimited, and uncompromising" demand. But Nouwen goes on to show that peacemaking is more than a matter of carrying placards or opposing war. It must begin with a life of prayer, a movement from "the dwelling place" of fear and hatred and into the house of God. The next step is to "resist the powers of death"-not just in the form of armies and armaments, but in everyday selfishness and bondage to destructive consumer values. Finally we are called to celebrate life and to build communities in which love, forgiveness, and compassion bind us in solidarity with a wounded world.