Book Review: Culture Of Peace

Culture Of Peace, edited by David V. Edling

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Hendrickson Publishers.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

This is truly a time where we need to cultivate a culture of peace.  I must admit, although this is scarcely news to most people who know me, that I both consider peace and reconciliation to be an important matter in my life [1] and one I struggle mightily with.  This book, although an exceedingly short one and afflicted with that common problem of staged dialogues that tend to oversimplify matters, generally does a good job at least least pointing out some of the reasons why making peace has been so particularly difficult for me and for others in our contemporary age.  If the book is not a perfect one, it certainly is a worthwhile one.  The book certainly features some able writing about peace and should certainly spark the book’s readers to think about peace in their lives and the relationship between our relationship with God and our ability to reconcile with our physical and spiritual family, something that is often problematic in our lives.

This particular small book of less than 100 pages contains four connected essays that deal in different ways with the aspect of encouraging a personal (and congregational) culture of peace.  Ken Sande and Gary Freisen begin with a discussion on biblical peacemaking through building real relationships (1) providing various acrostics that help people understand what is involved in biblical peacemaking efforts.  After that editor David V. Edling gives an extended comparison of the rescue of a drowning boater and the rescue of someone in an adulterous relationship through pastoral counseling as an aspect of God’s search and rescue plan through church discipline (2).  The third essay, by Alfred Poirier, really brought into focus how my own prickly and fierce nature does hinder my own personal ability to take criticism in light of the Gospel or for any other reason (3) and this is a common problem I feel like in our present world where correction just is not taken well or is not productive in leading to changed attitudes and behaviors.  Finally, the Ken Sande returns to give a closing essay on the danger of playing God and the way that we must judge with a hermeneutic of generosity, giving the benefit of the doubt wherever possible (4), something we often fail to do.

Overall, I think this book does a good job at providing some basic material as to what it takes to develop peace.  We have to have an accurate understanding of what reconciliation involves, have a firm grounding in the Matthew 18 method of reconciliation, be quick to recognize our own contribution to the interpersonal problems we struggle with, being slow to take offense and quick to seek non-offensive interpretations of the words and deeds of others, and so on.  To be sure, creating a culture of peace is not an easy matter, and this book does not go into too many details about the many ways that conflict affects our lives, but the book does make important points.  Perhaps the weakest parts of the book–somewhat typically–are the ways where the book attempts to provide examples of peacemaking in action that have all of the qualities of made-up examples written by someone to look plausible rather than being messy and complex examples that come from real life and that show the complexity and nuance of peacemaking in actuality.  Be that as it may, this is certainly a worthwhile read for those who want to better serve the interests of peace and reconciliation in our deeply divided world.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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