Academic Programs 
      

Religion, Conflict, and Peacemaking (TH-648)

Winter/Spring 2010

This course will explore the paradox of religion as a source of division and conflict, on the one hand, and of peaceful aspirations and compassionate, sacrificial service on the other. Theoretical approaches to this paradox, drawn from the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions, will be supplemented by practical case studies, with particular attention given to the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab dispute over the “Holy Land”.

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Monday, Jan. 11 through Friday, Jan. 15
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Make-up day: Jan. 16)


Yehezkel Landau
Faculty Associate in Interfaith Relations

Contact Information:
phone: 
(860) 509-9538
email: ylandau@hartsem.edu

 


Course Syllabus


Course Overview:

This course will explore the paradox of religion as a source of division and conflict, on the one hand, and of peaceful aspirations and compassionate, sacrificial service on the other. Theoretical approaches to this paradox, drawn from the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions, will be supplemented by practical case studies, with particular attention given to the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab dispute over the “Holy Land”

Topics to be covered:

  1. Factors in religion that engender or exacerbate conflict
  2. Factors in religion that help heal conflicts
  3. How we can tap the healing potential in our religious traditions so that we can be faithful peacemakers ourselves
  4. How to apply the lessons from case studies to promote genuine reconciliation

Rationale and Goals:

The course addresses a challenge in “applied theology,” namely, how to effectively apply our faith commitments in the service of intercommunal reconciliation. If we are to transform our culture of violence into one of peacemaking, we have to learn how to “wage peace” with the proper tools or methods. Most conflicts have a spiritual dimension that underlies the political and economic factors in dispute. Secular, rationalist, utilitarian models of “conflict resolution” fail to address this spiritual dimension and, hence, they overlook critical aspects of the peacemaking agenda. The course will attempt to rectify this secularist bias by blending theological and psychological insights into conflict transformation. The theoretical approaches will be supplemented by case studies that illustrate both the challenges and the resources inherent in this model of peacemaking.

The goals of the course are:

  1. To impart theoretical information that can help students understand better the religious and cultural dimensions of intercommunal conflicts
  2. To illustrate the challenges inherent in religiously-based peacemaking by examining some case studies
  3. To stimulate the students’ own creative, faithful responses to the challenge, inviting their questions and practical recommendations
  4. To create a group dynamic that facilitates collective approaches to the issues studied, using simulation exercises to illustrate conflict situations as well as the strategic steps involved in peacemaking

Anticipated Learning Outcomes:

  1. Awareness of the religious/cultural dimension to conflict and peacemaking
  2. Greater understanding of how to apply faith commitments and sensitivities to the challenge of practical peacemaking
  3. A deeper appreciation for how different faith traditions address conflicts
  4. Enhanced skills in listening, developing empathy, and compassionate communication

Methods of Delivery: Lectures, Videotapes, Facilitated discussions, Simulation
exercises

Methods of Assessment: Classroom participation (30%), Grasp of material as
demonstrated in a final paper (70%). The final paper, approximating 15
double-spaced pages, is due by April 15. Students should communicate with the
course instructor about the final paper before submitting it, to get feedback and
approval for the topic, as well as suggested resources.

Course Schedule: Topics and Readings
(readings indicated should be read for that session)

All readings will be on reserve in the Hartford Seminary Library. Books recommended for purchase (in bold italics followed by an asterisk*) are those by Appleby, Little, Abu-Nimer, Muller-Fahrenholz, Gopin, and Halevi.

January 11: The Ambivalence of the Sacred
Reading: R. Scott Appleby, The Ambivalence of the Sacred*, Introduction and chapters 1, 2, and 3.

Kelton Cobb, “Violent Faith,” in September 11: Religious Perspectives on the Causes and Consequences, Ian Markham and Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi’ eds., pp. 136-163 (on reserve).

Yehezkel Landau, “Religious Responses to Atrocity,” Tikkun, Vol. 18, No. 5 (Sept./Oct. 2003), pp. 28-31, 44 (on reserve)

Charles Selengut, “Toward a Holistic Approach to Religious Violence,” concluding chapter of Sacred Fury: Understanding Religious Violence (on reserve)

In-class video: Voices of Peace from CBS television, broadcast December 19, 2004

January 12: Morning: Case study: West Africa—with guest facilitator Ezekiel
Babagario
from Nigeria

Reading: “Warriors and Brothers: Imam Mohammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye,”
in Peacemakers in Action: Profiles of Religion in Conflict Resolution*, David Little,
ed., pp. 247-277

In-class video: The Imam and the Pastor featuring Ashafa and Wuye

Afternoon: Case study: Northern Ireland
Readings: Appleby, The Ambivalence of the Sacred*, chapter 5
“Men Who Walked the Street: Father Alex Reid and the Rev. Dr. Roy Magee,” in
Peacemakers in Action: Profiles of Religion in Conflict Resolution*, David Little,
ed., pp. 53-96.

Recommended: Selections from Canon Nicholas Frayling, Pardon and Peace: A Reflection on the Making of Peace in Northern Ireland (on reserve)

Patrick Grant, “Northern Ireland: Religion and the Peace Process,” in Religion and Peacebuilding, Harold Coward and Gordon S. Smith, eds., pp. 261-278 (on reserve)

Joseph Liechty, “Mitigation in Northern Ireland: A Strategy for Living in Peace When Truth Claims Clash,” in David R. Smock, ed., Interfaith Dialogue and Peacemaking, pp. 89-101 (on reserve)

January 13: Morning: Christianity and Peacemaking (with focus on South Africa)
Reading: Geiko Muller-Fahrenholz, The Art of Forgiveness: Theological Reflections on Healing and Forgiveness* (with special attention to chapters 1, 2, and 12)

Recommended: Desmond Tutu, No Future without Forgiveness

Michael Worsnip, Priest and Partisan: A South African Journey

Walter Wink, “Beyond Just War and Pacifism: Jesus’ Nonviolent Way,” in The Destructive
Power of Religion: Violence in Judaism, Christian, and Islam, J. Harold Ellens, ed., vol. 4, pp. 53-76 (on reserve)

Wayne Rollins, “The Myth of Redemptive Violence or The Myth of Redemptive Love,” in Ellens, ed. (ibid.), pp. 175-186 (on reserve)

In-class video: portions of Long Night’s Journey into Day: South Africa’s Search for Truth and Reconciliation directed by Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffman

Afternoon: Islam and Peace Building
Readings: Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Nonviolence and Peace Building in Islam*,
Introduction, Part I, and Conclusion (pp. 1-84, 181-186)

Amira Shamma Abdin, “The Roots of Peace in the Qur’an,” in Religion and Violence, Religion and Peace, Joseph H. Ehrenkranz and David L. Coppola, eds., pp. 101-111 (on reserve)

“Underground Woman: Sakena Yacoobi and the Afghan Institute of Learning,” in Peacemakers in Action: Profiles of Religion in Conflict Resolution*, David Little ed., pp. 382-401

January 14: Morning: Case study: The Middle East #1
Readings: Marc Gopin, Holy War, Holy Peace: How Religion Can Bring Peace to the Middle East*, Part I: Analysis

Marc Gopin, “Judaism and Peacebuilding in the Context of Middle Eastern Conflict,” in Faith-Based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik, Douglas Johnston, ed., pp. 91-123 (on reserve)

Yehezkel Landau: “A Holistic Peace Process for the Middle East,” Connections, January 2, 2003 (on reserve)

Yehezkel Landau: “Sharing Sacred History and Geography,” Zion’s Herald, Vol. 178, Issue 1, January/February 2004, pp. 33-34, 38 (on reserve)

Afternoon: Case study: The Middle East #2
Readings: Marc Gopin, Holy War, Holy Peace: How Religion Can Bring Peace to the Middle East*, Part II: Practical Applications

Yehezkel Landau, Healing the Holy Land: Interreligious Peacebuilding in Israel/Palestine, research report for the U.S. Institute of Peace, 2003 (on reserve)

Yehezkel Landau, “Peacebuilding in Israel/Palestine: A 30-Year Retrospective,” lecture, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, December 11, 2007 (on reserve)

Yehezkel Landau, “The Land of Israel in Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations” (on reserve)

January 15: Morning: Case study: Israel/Palestine
Readings: Yossi Klein Halevi, At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land*

“An Open House: Yehezkel Landau,” in Peacemakers in Action: Profiles of Religion in Conflict Resolution*, David Little, ed., pp. 356-381

Yehezkel Landau and Yahya Hendi, “Jews, Muslims, and Peace,” Current Dialogue, No. 41, June-July 2003, World Council of Churches, Geneva, pp. 12-13 (on reserve)

Articles on the OPEN HOUSE Center for Jewish-Arab Coexistence and Reconciliation in Ramle, Israel, including “Letter to a Deportee” by Dalia Landau, The Jerusalem Post, January 14, 1988 (on reserve)

In-class video: news reports on OPEN HOUSE from CNN and Israeli television

Afternoon: Case study: The U.S.A.
Readings: Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963, in Why We Can’t Wait (on reserve)

Selected chapters from Charles Marsh, God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights (on reserve

In-class video: Healing the Heart of America: An Honest Conversation on Race, Reconciliation, and Responsibility by Hope in the Cities/Initiatives of Change

CONCLUSION: The Vocation of Religious Peacebuilding
Readings: Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, “The Peacemakers in Action,” and David Little, “Religion, Violent Conflict, and Peacemaking” in Peacemakers in Action: Profiles of Religion in Conflict Resolution*, David Little, ed., pp. 3-21 and 429- 448.

 

 

 


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