Peace be with youth
Wisdom About War and Nonviolence: Helping Lutheran Youth Make a Prayerful and Conscientious Choice. Lowell Erdahl; Duane Kamrath, ed. 2012. 36 pages. Softbound. $3. To order: 507/665-6460 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before reading Wisdom About War and Nonviolence: Helping Lutheran Youth Make a Prayerful and Conscientious Choice, I had already started to write it off as an if-we-all-love-each-other-there-will-be-no-problems type of book that, while offering a nice picture of a society without hate, doesn’t recognize the fact that such a vision of the future will probably never happen. What I discovered, instead, was a host of thoughts, ideas, and questions that provoked thought.
Although the content worked well for me when reading it by myself, the design would function even better as a conversation starter with a group of people.
Author Lowell Erdahl, former bishop of the St. Paul Area Synod (ELCA), acknowledges that an ideal, hate-free society is unlikely, but he was not dismayed.Instead, he asked, “So what is within our grasp?” Erdahl offers a number of positive suggestions about how to act peacefully and how to think about both war and nonviolence.
Although there were some things in the book that I didn’t agree with, I thought it did a fairly good job of suggesting a path toward nonviolence, while not demonizing those who have served in war.
A resource for family reflection
The book’s layout sets up the content in a user-friendly way. Each page of the resource has a thought of the day, further discussion of that thought, and an affirmation for each day. The “thought of the day” provoked this reader’s creativity, catching my attention. The “further discussion” section underscores the blunt, sometimes controversial thought of the day. Then the affirmation brings the material to a solid conclusion, though it sometimes felt more like a pledge than a thought-provoking statement.
Although the book’s content worked well for me reading it by myself, its design would function even better as a conversation starter with a group. Because the thought of the day and further discussion sections often provoke thoughts and questions, reading the book in a group would be an effective way to gain an understanding of the issues raised.
The book cites many sources, ranging from a quote by Josef Stalin to passages from the Bible. These quotes are used either as the thought of the day or in further discussion to reaffirm and justify the material. They not only reinforce the ideas, but also provide new perspectives.
Although I was rather skeptical and closed-minded as I began to read this book, I had reversed my judgment by the time I finished reading it and discovered that it provided me with a new view on conflict and resolution.
Kevin Kane is a junior at Southwest High School and a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (ELCA), Minneapolis.