Books and Reviews


22 July-19 August, 2012

The Little Book of Trauma Healing:  When Violence Strikes and Community Is Threatened, Carolyn Yoder

This book focuses on how trauma affects communities and individuals in all aspects of life–the physical, emotional, social and spiritual. Yoder, a therapist and peacebuilder, draws on her experience in many parts of the world to succinctly describe the basic elements of a socially-based response to trauma.  She states, “The primary premise and challenge of this Little Book is that traumatic events and times have the potential to awaken the human spirit and, indeed, the global family. But this requires acknowledging our own history and that of the enemy, honestly searching for root causes, and shifting our emphasis from national security to human security.”  This represents a major shift in how we understand security.

Changing Lenses:  A New Focus for Crime and Justice, Howard Zehr

Howard Zehr, recognized globally as the “grandfather of Restorative Justice” has written a classic and foundational book on the topic.  He holds up the New Covenant established by Jesus as the basis for responding to injustice and wrongdoing.  Restoration and “making things right” replace punishment and the infliction of pain as the New Testament response to wrongdoing.  This approach requires individuals and societies to change how we “naturally” respond to wrongdoing.  The Little Book of Restorative Justice presents the basic tenets of Restorative Justice, but lacks the strong theological base presented in Changing Lenses.

The Little Book of Biblical Justice:  A fresh approach to the Bible’s teachings on justice, Chris Marshall

Justice is ultimately relational at its core, Marshall claims, thus to do justice requires that individuals and societies repair the relationships that have been violated and broken as the result of injustice and crime.  Marshall, a renowned New Zealand theologian and social ethicist, draws on his theological background and direct involvement with Restorative Justice practice to explain what justice looks like in everyday life as we “make things right” where wrongs have been committed.  He explores this further in his forthcoming book, Compassionate Justice.

Peace and Justice Shall Embrace, edited by Ted Grimsrud and Loren L. Johns

A collection of chapters in honor of Millard Lind , best known for his life-long scholarship on the transition from Moses and Old Testament law (Old Covenant) to Jesus and the New Testament ethic (New Covenant).  Two chapters are particularly relevant for persons committed to Peacebuilding, Restorative Justice and Trauma Healing.  Ted Grimsrud’s chapter, “Healing Justice:  The Prophet Amos and a ‘New’ Theology of Justice,” highlights the communal aspects of justice beyond individually based understandings.  Ray Gingerich’s contribution, “Reimaging Power:  Toward a Theology of Nonviolence,” highlights Jesus’ ethic in the New Testament in contrast to the warrior God of the Old Testament.  Gingerich stresses the normative nature of Jesus’ teaching and life.

Messy Mission:  Reflections on a Missional Spirituality, Mark Barnard

Mark Barnard lives and works with Urban Vision in Wellington, New Zealand.  He writes the book about the how imperfect and messed up people can and do follow Jesus.  He views spirituality from the margins.  Easy, but challenging reading on the upside down nature of being a follower of Jesus.

Life Together in the Spirit:  A Radical Spirituality for the Twenty-First Century, John Driver

Driver claims that the spirituality of Jesus’ disciples and the early church included every dimension of life.  Today this radical spirituality expresses itself as we as a community and individuals seek to embody Christ’s presence in the world in service to others.  In the 21st Century a wide variety of groups and movements, typically at the margins of society, continue to give expression to the radical spirituality Jesus lived.

Against the Tide, Towards the Kingdom, Jenny and Justin Duckworth

The Duckworths recount their pilgrimage as co-founders of Urban Vision in New Zealand and fellow travelers in the New Monastic Movement.  Like Mark Barnard’s book, this story leaves us with the challenge of finding the connection between spirituality, service and commitment in our daily lives.

Muddy Spirituality:  Bringing it all back down to earth, Jon Owen

Jon Owen, now from West Sydney, calls us to be “foolish” in following Jesus.  Like the other authors who discuss ”dissident discipleship,” to borrow David Augsburger’s term, Owen calls for a radical commitment to people on the margins.  This will require that we experience a thorough going restructuring of the social and spiritual perspectives or models that shape our everyday practice of Christianity and the way we view life.

The Upside-Down Kingdom, Donald B. Kraybill

Generosity, Jubilee, mercy and compassion are core characteristics of the upside-down kingdom.  The dominant values in many societies today are self-centeredness, wealth accumulation, and power.  Jesus’ life and teachings posed a threat to the dominant political and religious order of his day.   Kraybill claims that the same would be true today if Christians took seriously Jesus’ life and teaching.  Unfortunately, too frequently religion supports the established order and its underlying values.

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