A Brief Review of
Ambassadors of Reconciliation (Vol. II):
Diverse Christian Practices of
Restorative Justice and Peacemaking.
Elaine Enns and Ched Myers.
Paperback: Orbis Books, 2009.
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Reviewed by Dustin Hite.
In this second of a two volume work, Elaine Enns and Ched Myers, whose work with Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries is well-known to some, offer those interested in issues of restorative justice, peacemaking, conflict resolution, and other disciplines some wise words of encouragement, as well as numerous examples of how many diverse people are working successfully in these areas.
This particular volume opens with a three-chapter sectioning laying some groundwork for the perspective from which Enns and Myers are operating in their own work. For instance, chapter one deals with a short explication of the spiral of violence and how it is operative in the social world—an understanding that is crucial for one to grasp in order to move into the next two chapters. In both chapter two and three, the authors begin to offer a critique of the segregated nature of the disciplines mentioned above, as well as developing a harmonized approach to their own view of restorative justice and peacemaking practices. One highlight of this work, among the many, is chapter three. Both Enns and Myers acknowledge how power dynamics are at play in any attempt to succeed in these matters. In their own way, this chapter highlights how some in this field, especially those who belong to the dominant culture, fail to understand how power dynamics, and the acknowledgment thereof, can either help or hinder efforts. It is this critique that may be most helpful to anyone—whether professionally engaged in this type of work or only so through personal interaction—as they seek to navigate themselves in an interdependent world.
The authors have dedicated a majority of their work in this volume to highlighting the ongoing endeavors of various practitioners in fields ranging from victim/offender dialogue to witnessing for peace in the midst of war to the unique contribution women and other minorities have offered to this field. What this does is to allow the reader to peer over the shoulder of many who are actively engaged in restorative justice practices and peacemaking, and to do so in such a way as to offer hope, encouragement, and guidance. The poignant recollections of these individuals succeeds in putting a face and a name and a story to something that can be quite abstract for those outside this work.
If one were coming to this work looking for a “how-to” guide to restorative justice and peacemaking, one would be greatly disappointed. However, if one were seeking to grasp a Christian perspective (from which the authors admittedly operate) on issues of violence, power, injustice, and the like, and see how others are actively engaged in working against these, then the work of Enns and Myers is a great place to begin.