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Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Christ's Teachings About Love, Compassion and Forgiveness [Paperback]

By Wendell Berry (Editor), Toshio Suzuki (Editor), Ranald Michie (Editor), Steve Allen (Translator), Reb Anderson (Translator), Joris Hoefnagel (Editor) & Sylvia Yount
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Item Specifications...

Pages   68
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 6.58" Width: 4.42" Height: 0.28"
Weight:   0.15 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 4, 2005
Publisher   Shoemaker & Hoard
ISBN  1593761007  
EAN  9781593761004  

Availability  77 units.
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Item Description...
A volume of Jesus's teachings on such topics as peace, love, and understanding, selected by the esteemed writer and poet, is collected to dissuade Christians from using His words to promote intolerance or political agendas. Original.

Publishers Description
For two thousand years, artists, social and cultural activists, politicians and philosophers, humanists and devoted spiritual seekers have all looked to the sayings of Jesus for inspiration and instruction. Unfortunately, on occasions too frequent and destructive to enumerate, the teachings of Christ have been either ignored or distorted by the very people calling themselves Christian. Today, we see a vigorous movement in America fueled by a politicized and engaged portion of the electorate involved in just such ignorance and distortion. Whether directed towards social intolerance or attitudes of warlike aggression, these right-wing citizens have claimed a power of influence that far exceeds their numbers.
This small book collects the sayings of Jesus, selected by Mr. Berry, who has contributed an essay of introduction. Here is a way of peace as described and directed by the greatest spiritual teacher in the West. This is a book of inspiration and prayerful compassion, and we may hope a ringing call to action at a time when our country and the world it once led stand at a dangerous crossroads.

Buy Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Christ's Teachings About Love, Compassion and Forgiveness by Wendell Berry, Toshio Suzuki, Ranald Michie, Steve Allen, Reb Anderson, Joris Hoefnagel & Sylvia Yount from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781593761004 & 1593761007

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More About Wendell Berry, Toshio Suzuki, Ranald Michie, Steve Allen, Reb Anderson, Joris Hoefnagel & Sylvia Yount

Wendell Berry WENDELL BERRY was born in Henry County, Kentucky, in 1934. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Kentucky in 1956 and continued on to complete a master’s degree in 1957. In 1958, he received a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University.

Berry has taught at Stanford University, Georgetown College, New York University, the University of Cincinnati, and Bucknell University. He taught at his alma mater, the University of Kentucky from 1964-77, and again from 1987-93.

The author of more than 40 works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, Wendell Berry has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1962), the Vachel Lindsay Prize from Poetry (1962), a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship (1965), a National Institute of Arts and Letters award for writing (1971), the Emily Clark Balch Prize from The Virginia Quarterly Review (1974), the American Academy of Arts and Letters Jean Stein Award (1987), a Lannan Foundation Award for Non-Fiction (1989), Membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers (1991), the Ingersoll Foundation's T. S. Eliot Award (1994), the John Hay Award (1997), the Lyndhurst Prize (1997), and the Aitken-Taylor Award for Poetry from The Sewanee Review (1998). His books include the novel Hannah Coulter (2004), the essay collections Citizenship Papers (2005) and The Way of Ignorance (2006), and Given: Poems (2005), all available from Counterpoint. Berry's latest works include The Mad Farmer Poems (2008) and Whitefoot (2009), which features illustrations by Davis Te Selle.

He lives and works with his wife, Tanya Berry, on their farm in Port Royal, Kentucky.

Wendell Berry currently resides in the state of Kentucky. Wendell Berry was born in 1934.

Wendell Berry has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Christian Practice of Everyday Life

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Actual teachings of Jesus  Jun 12, 2008
This is a great summary of the teachings of Jesus. I highly recommend it for all Christians and anyone else who would like Jesus' teachings in a nutshell. My only complaint is the price for such a small book. And the price on the cover was less than the price charged by this site.
Making Christianity unfashionable but authentic  May 17, 2006
Wendell Berry begins this little book on a Kierkegaardian note by asserting that Christianity in the U.S. has become so fashionable that it has "remarkably little to do with the things that Jesus Christ taught." In our cultural endorsement of war and economic/environmental practices that destroy creation--both fashionable expediencies--we betray, for the sake of national interests (the heresy, by the way, of phyletism), the Gospel. We thereby put outselves in "an absurdity" that we can "neither resolve nor escape: the proposition that war can be made to serve peace; that you can make friends for love by hating and killing the enemies of love."

Berry goes on to reflect on the "burden" (but blessing, too) of being a good enough Christian to avoid this absurdity. His analysis focuses on Christ's promise to bring "life abundant." As Berry interprets it, "abundant life" refers to all creation, not just one's personal existence, which has its being in and through God's creative spirit. To celebrate what God has made and graciously sustains, we need to adopt ways of living that nurture rather than destroy, that encourage peace rather than war, and that affirm rather life than death.

In between the introductory and closing essay in which Berry reflects on all this, he collects 123 New Testament verses that speak to Christ's Gospel of Peace and its promise of life abundant. Actually, I think he undersells the centrality of peacemaking in the New Testament: I'd add at least half again as many verses. But Berry's point is well-taken: one either takes scripture seriously, or one doesn't. What the Bible says is pretty clear, and it's not so easy to interpret away as many of us wish or believe.

Berry offers a litmus test for whether we take scripture seriously: if we heard some guy named Joe Green in the public square saying exactly the same things Jesus said 2,000 years ago (only we're hearing them for the very first time), would we drop everything and follow him? Or would we mock him as unfashionably crazy? How many of us who call ourselves Christians, I wonder, would pass this test? Would I?

Highly recommended. As usual, Berry's style is heartbreakingly beautiful, and his reflections insightful.

A challenge to hear anew the Jesus of the Gospels  Dec 5, 2005
Berry is a prophet somewhat in the mold of Amos from the Hebrew Bible, though a bit more disarming in his challenges. His selection of Jesus-sayings on peacemaking is intriguing for what it reveals both about what Jesus said and about Berry. The book is worth the price for the introduction and the essay, "The Burden of the Gospels," that are included. In the introduction, Berry indicts modern Christianity: "It seems to have remarkably little to do with the things that Jesus Christ actually taught." In the concluding essay, he suggests that a more honest reading of the Gospels could improve the modern practice of the Christian faith.

Anyone who seeks to take seriously the Gospels and the Jesus they present, should read the above referenced essay. It was first presented in August 2005 at the joint convocation of Lexington Theological Seminary and Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, two institutions that share space in Lexington, Kentucky. Berry's essay has an important word for all readers and interpreters of the Gospels--be they in the pew or in the pulpit.
Wendell Berry "comes out" as a Christian & comes down on his brothers & sisters  Nov 3, 2005
Wendell Berry--the agrarian conservationist I hate to love--has, I think, always been a low-profile Christian. He respects Christ's teachings but really does not want to be associated with the Christianity of today's America. Now, though, he's picking up the cross of Christ's supposed pacifism and decided to knock us over the head with it. (He was already leaning hard in this direction when I saw him at a book reading in Seattle just days after the 2004 elections.)

In his new book, Berry attempts to play both the pious follower of Christ and a dangerous boat-rocker, a sort of Big Bad Wolf, here to gobble up the precious naivete of Little Red Riding Christian ("My, what a big conscience you have, Mr. Berry!" "Yes, the better to beat you with, my dear.")

This 68-page book, at its center, consists of a large selection of Jesus' words (the "red text" of the Bible), cut free of context and bookended by two essays from Berry. The book's back cover gives a good summary of Berry's modus operandi:

"...[Berry] began to wonder how a large segment of the Christian community could ignore the bold and direct teachings offered by Christ and recorded by the authors of the Gospels. How could a community founded on peaceableness become a community encouraging war on its neighbors? How could a community founded on compassion and forgiveness become enflamed by intolerance?"

"Here is a way of peace, a challenge offered by the greatest spiritual teacher in the West, a book of inspiration, of prayerful compassion, and we may hope a call to action at a time when our country and the world it once led stand at a dangerous crossroads."

But enough about the outside of the book. Berry tops all of that with his inflammatory, ill-considered statements inside:

"I am not a learned man and I may have missed something, but I know of no Christian nation and no Christian leader from whose conduct the teachings of Christ could be inferred."

"One may feel that, in the name of honesty, Christians ought either to quit fighting or quit calling themselves Christians."

"They have justified their disobedience on the grounds of the impracticality of obedience, though we have little proof of the practicality of disobedience, and precious few examples of obedience."

"[Many Christians] are confident, moreover, that God hates people whose faith differs from their own, and they are happy to concur in that hatred."

Also, he paraphrases Christ as saying: "Don't resist evil. If someone slaps your right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too." Don't resist evil?! This is a big difference from what Christ actually said--that is, we should not struggle against someone who does evil to us. Resisting evil is something Christ himself made rather a habit of.

Okay, Mr. Berry. Take a breath.

Certainly, one cannot argue against Christ being an advocate of love, compassion and forgiveness. However, He did employ violence at least once (taking whips to the money changers in the temple). Also, in Matthew 10, He says that He came not to bring peace but "a sword." Now this may or may not be a figurative sword (as Berry himself interprets it), but it obviously means conflict and not peace. This directly contradicts Berry's statement that "love, forgiveness, and peaceableness are the only neighborly relationships that are acceptable to God." Furthermore, it is obvious to anyone who has read the Gospels that Christ's own relationship with the religious authorities of his day was anything but peaceable. Christ did not believe in "peace at any price."

We also have to consider what Christ didn't say and didn't do; the negative space gives shape to the picture here.

Unfortunately, we do not have examples from Christ for dealing with some of the worst situations that life can throw at us. How, for example, would Christ enact the dictum to "love your neighbor" if He came across a murder threat or a rape in progress? Is it neighborly love to allow a victim to be abused and even killed; is it neighborly love to allow a criminal to continue in his evil? And if Christ were given executive power in a modern government, would He combat terrorism simply by holding massive prayer vigils and sending emissaries of compassion to the terrorists?

Also, why did Christ not take his preaching to the world leaders of his time? Why did He focus it on twelve men at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder? Did He think that governments should honor exactly the same "love" commands that were given to the individuals who followed him? Now that's a really interesting question. If He believed that the Roman government--or even the politically-active Jewish rebel groups of his time--should have turned pacifist, why didn't He take that message to them? Wasn't he just wasting his time with those twelve fishermen? The fact is, we have no evidence that Christ believed that governments could function on the "turn the other cheek" philosophy. On the contrary, all the evidence we see from the Gospels suggests that Christ was utterly uninterested in politics--that is, in the secular public square. His interest seems to have been primarily with the private life of the human heart and with the religious public square, the community of faith.

It is worth taking a close look at Christ's command to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" and asking ourselves: what should our relationship be to the governing powers above us? How much are we to "render" up? In Romans 13, the Apostle Paul expounded these words of Christ, saying that governments are invested, by God, with certain powers and duties, including the duty to punish the guilty and reward those who do good. Paul goes on to give a short list of our personal duties as individual Christians. That list, the commandments, is followed by this simple line: "Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep" (v. 11, RSV). In other words, let the government perform its God-given duties so you can go about minding the responsibilities of your own life and the immediate burdens of your own soul.

There is no evidence that Christ or his apostles thought that governments should back off from criminals, that they should let the Hitlers, Saddam Husseins and Osama bin Ladens of the world run amok until such time as they might "see the light." In fact, loving one's neighbor may often mean protecting the weak from the evil.

Finally, this is what always troubles me most about Berry. He vents his spleen, criticizing The Terrible Way Things Are, but never shows us just how his alternative utopia is supposed to work, never shows us his Good and Perfect Way. He's all complaint and no concrete policy. (How, for example, can traditional agrarian life rescue the modern world from the troubles of our hyper-industrial progressivism?) And that, in the end, is why Wendell Berry is the writer I hate to love.
I Am Always on the Lookout for Books Like This...  Nov 3, 2005
There are very, very few essential living authors. Berry has once again proven that he is among them. An absolutely inspirational work. Jefferson said: "the words of Jesus shine in this world like diamonds in a dung-hill".

Berry lifts these coruscating words and sayings -- and gently turns them so that their fiery truth is sometimes illuminating... and sometimes blinding. +Aaron K

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