Featured Reviews, VOLUME 7

Rick Love – Peace Catalysts [Feature Review]

[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”0830836683″ cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41h-ESc1zoL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”107″]Page 2: Rick Love – Peace Catalysts

 
 
Problematically, there is an imbalance of women sources, especially Christian women writers and theologians.  There is only one book written by a woman in the Recommended Reading section, and a total of ten women authors are mentioned in the endnotes.  Most of these are journalists or mediation experts, and most do not get mentioned in the text itself.   Love’s wife and daughters, however,  do make valuable peacemaking contributions via his stories about them.  There is also a beautiful story of a woman who forgave her attacker.  He states that one of the most pervasive types of conflict in our world is conflict between genders, and that listening to the other’s perspective is essential to successful peacemaking.  Nonetheless, there seems to be a dearth of women’s perspectives, especially theological perspectives, in this book.  Perhaps further study of theological peacemaking from a woman’s perspective is in order for all of us.  One excellent place to start might be the work of Sarah Coakley, the Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge.  Coakley has written extensively on gender and theology, and her most recent book: God, Sexuality, and the Self: An Essay on the Trinity builds a Trinitarian framework for gender ethics which has application in the dynamics of peacemaking between genders.

 

Rick Love is the president Peace Catalyst International and his real passions are mediation in interpersonal and organizational conflicts, and Muslim/Christian relations.  On both these topics the book is excellent.  He provides a succinct, generous, and accurate description of the complexities of Islam.  He outlines ways that individuals and congregations have gone about making peace with their Muslim neighbors.  The tone is hopeful without being naïve.  It is the kind of introductory reading that excites and empowers the reader, inviting them to learn more and continue pursuing Jesus’ way of peace long after they have finished the book.

 

His chapter on mediation and communication is riveting.  In it he details strategies for mediating interpersonal conflict, drawing on a range of secular and religious experts as well as his own extensive experience. The rich theological resonance of Christ as mediator creates a foundation for the experientially grounded praxis.  The core of Christian mediation, according to Love, is having the theological imagination to reframe the conflict as a potential for collaboration rather than an “us vs. them” situation.

 

The arena of peacemaking that gets the least attention is Christian unity (or the lack thereof).  Besides the implicit gesture of his ecumenical bibliography, and a passing comment or two, Love disappointingly overlooks what might be the most scandalous conflict facing the Church: that Jesus followers do such a terrible job of loving each other, and have caused each other much pain and suffering. We have created wounds that need healing, and relationships that desperately need reconciliation.   In sum, however, Peace Catalysts is an excellent resource, easily applicable even in areas it did not explicitly address.  Maybe a small step toward Christian unity would be for a snooty, former evangelical like myself to admit that he can still learn plenty from a Bible-beating evangelical like Rick Love.

 




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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com


One Comment

  1. Hey James. Thank you for this thoughtful and solid analysis of my book. I find it very encouraging. Yes, I do speak “evangelical” — though I tell people I am a recovering evangelical leader 🙂 I especially appreciate your pointing out my lack of women author’s noted. I will definitely work on that in the future.