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Living Without Enemies: Being Present in the Midst of Violence (Resources for Reconciliation) Paperback – June 28, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Living Without Enemies is a useful read as we reflect on how churches responded and might in the future respond to the violence we saw on our streets last august, and which is ongoing in different ways elsewhere." (Andy Goodliff, Belle Vue Baptist Church, Regents Reviews, April 2012)

"Living Without Enemies is an amazing story of love and reconciliation. It is a powerful portrayal of how God loves us and inspires us all to love each other more deeply." (Leroy Barber, president of Mission Year)

"Living Without Enemies is a deeply human book that is disarming in its ability to illustrate the ironic turn of tragic yet restorative stories of victims who became perpetrators only to find themselves victimized by an inhuman system that fails to affirm human dignity and our need for grace. Striking in its honest, real-life accounts, Living Without Enemies is inviting, inspiring and illuminating. This volume is one of the most important and most urgent in the Resources for Reconciliation series. It is truly a timely plea for the urgent need for peace in a time when humanity is crying out for hope." (Chris Heuertz, international director of Word Made Flesh and author of Simple Spirituality and Friendship at the Margins)

"Living Without Enemies is exactly and perfectly what reconciliation literature should be. Informative, certainly. Moving beyond anything I would or could have ever expected. And above all, instructive of my soul and my own Christian practice. I am much in the authors' debt for their retelling of these stories and experiences." (Phyllis Tickle, author, The Words of Jesus: A Gospel of the Sayings of Our Lord)

"To rightly serve those in need is no small challenge. Helping can be unintentionally hurtful if done inappropriately. Samuel Wells and Marcia Owen offer a clear, carefully conceived road map into the sometimes confusing environment of crosscultural interpersonal relationships. Living Without Enemies is an excellent practical guide for forging redemptive relationships." (Bob Lupton, FCS Urban Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia, author of Renewing the City)

About the Author

Samuel W. Wells is vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London, and visiting professor of Christian Ethics at King's College, London. He was previously dean of Duke University Chapel and research professor of Christian ethics at Duke Divinity School. His pastoral experience before coming to Duke included a spell as a community worker in inner-city Liverpool. He served four parishes as a Church of England priest from 1991-2005. Most of this time was spent in the post-industrial North East and in a socially disadvantaged neighborhood in East Anglia. He also served suburban and urban village communities in Cambridge. From 1998-2003 he was closely involved in establishing a community-led development trust, the first such organization in the East of England. During this time he also launched a non-profit organization offering disadvantaged children opportunities to discover wonder and joy through creative play. Wells is the author of numerous books including Transforming Fate Into Destiny, Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics, God's Companions, Speaking the Truth: Preaching in a Pluralistic Culture and Be Not Afraid: Facing Fear with Faith.

Marcia A. Owen is executive director of the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham (RCND). She has also served as a sales and marketing manager and lay leader in the local United Methodist Church. In addition to her contracted duties she continues to be an active volunteer with RCND since joining the Coalition in 1993.
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Product Details

  • Series: Resources for Reconciliation
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (June 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780830834563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830834563
  • ASIN: 0830834567
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #841,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Morehead on June 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
From IVP: "Owen and Wells offer deep insights into what it takes to overcome powerlessness, transcend fear and engage in radical acceptance in our dangerous world. Your view of ministry will be altered by this poignant tale of coming face-to-face with our God who loves boundlessly and has no enemies."

Having lived in Durham, NC for much of the last decade, I appreciated the local connection, but what I enjoyed most was the authors naming something which I think most will have encountered if one has spent a significant amount of time working on a local issue. When one gets involved, it's generally with the conviction that something could be better and with at least some idea of how to help. Yet, the task of listening, learning (if this is undertaken) and involvement can radically change the form of that initial vision of helping and often the involvement can take one from "working for" through "working with," "being for" and "being with" those affected. It's a richer kind of involvement and often one finds oneself changing and being affected in ways that were unanticipated. You could say the book is about gun violence, but the gift of the book, I think, is providing a compelling picture of what it looks like to move beyond the stage of lack of engagement or opening a wallet for a cause to opening your heart and life to the world.

Quite a lovely book. [more at my blog]
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Format: Paperback
This book explores Christian engagement with gun violence in Durham, North Carolina, but is replete with wisdom for Christian mission and discipleship more generally. To begin, Wells, who is dean of Duke University Chapel and professor of Christian ethics, presents four models of Christian engagement that frame the reflections and stories throughout the book.

The first model--working for--describes the scenario when one person with knowledge or skills helps another person who has a need. Legislative action, philanthropy, and many international relief and development initiatives are common examples of working for, and often this is the default position of the church toward those in need. According to Wells, however, this approach "perpetuates relationships of inequality" and does not produce long-term transformation, missing the crucial elements of empowerment and trust.

The second model--working with--is about entering into a shared project with people rather than doing a task for them, focusing on reciprocal relationships oriented toward a common goal. A common goal is important, but so is the entire process of partnering and working together, whether or not the goal is achieved.

Although working with overcomes many of the weaknesses inherent in working for, there is a third model--being with--that takes it one step further. Being with is more about relationships of mutuality than an overall project or program, as illustrated in the work Jean Vanier and L'Arche, the hospice movement, and elements of the New Monasticism. This approach recognizes that often problems cannot be solved, and we need simply to enjoy being together.
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"Living Without Enemies" is just as I describe it in the title of this review. I recommend it for anyone who finds themselves in ministry to or relationship with people who are suffering. For the individual new to the latter circumstances, the book provides much needed advice and confirmation. For the individual who has been loving suffering people for decades, if nothing else the book provides an articulation of many things that they already know to be true. The concepts are not overly complex, but they are incredibly helpful and applicable for all ministers regardless of experience, religion, education, personal belief, gender, age, etc.

The book is not of an overwhelming length, but it presents its themes clearly and thoroughly. Moreover, it's written in a very engaging manner which allows the reader to work through its concepts quickly and easily. As a book, "Living Without Enemies" is a rarity; it can be read, understood, and enjoyed in a single sitting, but its text can be contemplated, explicated, and put into practice throughout a lifetime.
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Format: Paperback
Wells, Samuel and Marcia Owen, Living Without Enemies: Being Present in the Midst of Violence. Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2011. $15.00. 144 pages. 978-0-8308-3456-3.

The phrase "where there is a will, there is a way" can have both positive contributions to human action, or it can have negative contributions. In the area of violence and attempted violence in America, where there is a will to do harm to one another, there is a way in the means of a gun or other weapon. Particularly in the streets of Durham North Carolina, academician Samuel Wells of Duke University and local activist Marcia Owen have teamed up to provide the reader an expository reflection on the issue of gun violence in one American community. Notably, what is discussed and learned from these two has national and international implications.
As is customary of this particular series of books by InterVarsity Press, one author is of the more academic bent while the other contributor is more on the "doing" side of the equation. Both of course are equally important and I thought equal amount of information was given by both the contributors - with the theorization coming from Wells followed by the action of that theorizing explained by Owen. Owen's local non-profit called the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham was the case study discussed and expounded through the book --- a book filled with story after story about violent situations in Durham and how they were responded to.
The response, to my mind, is the key to the complex equation that every city and community faces when an outburst of violence occurs. While the traditional format might be to "fight back", this relatively small group of Christ followers in Durham have chosen an alternative and more peculiar option.
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