The Challenges of Reconciliation:
Basic Concepts

Time and Dates of Course:

  • Six sessions, Mondays, Sept 26 - Oct 31, and November 21, 2005 (no class Thanksgiving long weekend)
  • 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.

with Catherine Morris, BA, LLB (Alberta), LLM (UBC)

  • Appointments: You are always welcome to arrange appointments.
  • Contact Information: Telephone 250-477-0129; or send e-mail

Location of classes:

  • 2121 Cedar Hill Cross Road, Victoria, BC, Canada (Stevenson Room, Emmanuel Baptist Church).

COURSE OUTLINE
(subject to amendment)

Course Description

People all over the world are considering the subject of "reconciliation" in contexts ranging from the personal to the political. This brief introductory course considers Christian world view perspectives that underlie much current thinking and discourse about reconciliation today. The meaning of "reconciliation" as a central concept of Christianity is explored. Participants have opportunities to consider and reflect on several concepts of reconciliation including acknowledgment, apologies, forgiveness, justice and peace. Challenges for reconciliation are considered. The focus of the course is primarily on the practical experiences of leaders in Christian organizations and communities. Examples from other contexts are also used. The course draws on English language translations of texts from Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, as well as literature from the interdisciplinary field of peace and conflict studies.

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Course Objectives

At the end of this course, it is envisioned that participants will:

  • have a basic understanding of several intellectual, philosophical and scriptural origins of contemporary thinking about "reconciliation" including concepts of justice, truth, forgiveness and peace;
  • have opportunities to consider and reflect on several obstacles to reconciliation, including several forms of denial and several tensions among desires for truth, justice, forgiveness and peace;
  • understand several practical steps toward reconciliation, including acknowledgement, apologies, reparations and forgiveness;
  • be aware of some ethical and spiritual resources for reconciliation proposed in Hebrew and Christian scriptures and narratives of people writing from Christian world view perspectives;
  • have opportunities to experience and reflect on their spiritual and moral foundations and their own thoughts, feelings and actions concerning reconciliation.

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Instructional Methods

The course contemplates 18 hours of face-to-face instruction conducted in six three-hour sessions plus additional assignments and interactions with the instructor to make up the appropriate undergraduate or graduate levels of course credit by way of individual directed studies or other arrangements as appropriate to the cooperating educational institutions. The course and readings are intended for academic credit for persons studying at baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate levels, however the course is suitable for non-credit attendance by those with appropriate background. Instructional methods include:

  • readings,
  • lectures, including possible guest lectures,
  • films,
  • participant discussions and reflections,
  • case studies and some role-play simulations,
  • additional face-to-face or other interactions with the instructor as appropriate to the academic needs of the student and the requirements of participating academic institutions;
  • writing assignments as appropriate to the academic needs of the student and the requirements of participating academic institutions.

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Readings

Assigned texts: Undergraduate, graduate and audit students:

  • Schreiter, Robert J. The Ministry of Reconciliation: Spirituality and Strategies. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1998. (136 pages) ISBN 1-57075-168-4
  • Lederach, John Paul. The Journey Toward Reconciliation. Scottdale, Pa: Herald Press, 1999 ISBN 0-8361-9082-3
  • Selected biblical texts
  • Reading Pack (package of individual chapters and readings)
  • Readings available online (see schedule of readings)
  • Your choice of reconciliation narratives to be read throughout the course:
    • Nolen, Stephanie. "Don't talk to me about justice." Globe and Mail (April 3, 2004): F6. (in coursepack, also an audio version is found at (scroll down to find title)
    • Tutu, Desmond Mpilo. No Future Without Forgiveness. New York: Image, 2000. ISBN: 0385496907.
    • Gobodo-Madikizela, Pumla. A Human Being Died That Night. Cape Town: David Philip Publishers, 2003.
    • Frankl, Viktor E. Man's Search for Meaning. New York: Pocket, 1997. (First published 1963)
    • Wiesenthal, Simon. The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness. New York, NY: Schocken Books, 1998.
    • Other narratives may be proposed.

Assigned Texts: Graduate Students -- above texts plus the following:

  • Schreiter, Robert. Reconciliation: Mission and Ministry in a Changing Social Order. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1992 (84 pages) ISBN: 0-88344-809-2
  • Graduate students may also wish to consider reading some of the following recommended texts, selected according to the student's field of study, as well as to consult the instructor .

Other Recommended Texts

  • Augsburger, David W. The New Freedom of Forgiveness. Chicago: Moody Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8024-3292-1
  • Appleby, R. Scott. The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence and Reconciliation. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000.
  • De Gruchy, John W. Reconciliation: Restoring Justice. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002. (288 pages) ISBN: 0800636007
  • Frankl, Viktor E. Man's Search for Meaning. New York: Pocket, 1997. (First published 1963)
  • Gobodo-Madikizela, Pumla. A Human Being Died That Night. Cape Town: David Philip Publishers, 2003.
  • Lederach, John Paul. The Little Book of Conflict Transformation. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2003. (72 pages) ISBN: 1-56148-390-7
  • Lederach, John Paul. Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies. Washington, DC: US Institute of Peace, 1997.
  • Smedes, Lewis B. The Art of Forgiving. New York: Ballantine Books, 1996. (178 pages) ISBN: 0-345-41344-X
  • Tutu, Desmond. No Future Without Forgiveness. Image, 2000. ISBN: 0385496907.
  • Volf, Miroslav. Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996. ISBN: 0-687-00282-6.
  • Wiesenthal, Simon. The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness. New York, NY: Schocken Books, 1998. ISBN: 0-8052-1060-1
  • See further bibliography at http://www.peacemakers.ca/bibliography (See especially the topics of Apology and Forgiveness, Reconciliation, Restorative Justice, Religious Perspectives on Conflict Resolution.)
  • Other recommended texts may be announced.

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Coursework: Assignments and Evaluation

Course Evaluation:

  • Course participation and class assignments (30%): Students are graded at the end of the term on their overall attendance, class participation and performance on the following class assignments which are weighted as follows:
    • Class attendance and preparation (15%). This is a participatory seminar course. Therefore, it is envisioned that students will attend each class and be conversant with the readings assigned for each class. Students may be invited (in advance) to summarize readings for the class. Absences may be made up by writing a short review of the relevant literature assigned for the class.
    • First homework assignment (5%, ungraded, pass/fail) due Friday, September 30, 2005 by electronic submission to the instructor. Please see the assignment at the end of this course outline. The reason for early submission is to assist the instructor to prepare for the second class.
    • Informal class presentations (10% ungraded, pass/fail). Credit students may be invited to make brief individual or group presentations or to be part of panel discussions on issues raised by course readings. Credit students will also be invited to make a short presentation during Session 6 related to their paper
  • Writing Assignment (70%): Due December 21, 2005 (one month after the last class)
    • Please write a paper (Graduate students about 20-25 pages; undergraduate and diploma students 12-15 pages). This length assumes double spaced pages with standard margins and fonts, and excludes notes, references and diagrams. A page usual contains about 250 words.
    • Papers demonstrate relevant external research as well as thorough understanding of all relevant course readings.
    • Marks are reduced at the rate of 2% of the total course grade for each day (or part of a day) past the deadline of December 21, 2005. Extensions are given for reasons of illness or emergency (including family emergency) or other valid reasons and with permission of the relevant university department.
    • Students may propose longer papers or extensions for valid research reasons with the permission of the instructor in consultation with the Faculty Advisor of the relevant program of the relevant cooperating institution. Please discuss such proposals with the instructor well in advance of the deadline.
    • Papers are submitted in hard copy by 2:30 p.m. December 21, 2005 (submission location to be announced). Because of limited printing facilities, electronic submissions of final papers are not accepted except by prior arrangement.

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Class schedule and readings
(subject to amendment)

1. What is "reconciliation"?
September 26, 2005 (estimate one class)

  • What is "reconciliation" and how does it compare with other conflict handling methods?
  • The centrality of the concept of reconciliation in the Christian world view.
  • Key challenges for reconciliation: Painful histories, difficult losses, concerns about justice.

    Readings for this section:
    • Hizkias Assefa. "The Meaning of Reconciliation." In People Building Peace. European Platform for Conflict Prevention and Transformation, n.d.
    • Schreiter, Robert J. The Ministry of Reconciliation, pp. 3-39.
    • Schreiter, Robert. Reconciliation: Mission and Ministry in a Changing Social Order, pp. 1-25.
    • Lederach, John Paul. The Journey Toward Reconciliation, pp. 17-80.
    • Kraybill, Ron. "From Head to Heart: The Cycle of Reconciliation." Conciliation Quarterly 14 (3) (Summer 1995): 7-8. (package of readings)
    • Biblical texts: Romans 5:6-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Colossians 1: 1-20; John 17: 1-25; Mark 16:1-8; John 20:1-18; Galatians 3: 23-28 (available online at Bible Crosswalk or Bible Gateway)
    • Reconciliation narrative of your choice

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2. Responsibility for harms: Denial and Acknowledgement
(October 3, 2005) estimate 1 class)

  • Acknowledgment
  • Form of denial
  • True and false apologies
  • Legal and other obstacles to apology

    Readings for this section:

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3. Concepts and forms of justice
(October 17, 2005) one class

  • Retributive and restorative forms of justice (Zehr, Brunk, Schreiter)
  • Restitution and reparation; (Zehr, Brunk, Schreiter)
  • Repentance and its role in justice

    Readings for this section:
    • Schreiter, Robert J. The Ministry of Reconciliation, pp. 117-123 (all students).
    • Zehr, Howard "Restorative Justice." In Peacebuilding: A Field Guide, edited by Luc Reychler, and Thania Paffenholz, 331-335. (package of readings)
    • Brunk, Conrad. "Restorative Justice and the Philosophical Theories of Criminal Punishment." In The Spiritual Roots of Restorative Justice, ed. Michael L. Hadley, 31-56. New York: SUNY Press, 2001. (package of readings, graduate students)
    • Wink, Walter. "Beyond Just War and Pacifism: Jesus' Nonviolent Way." (optional)
    • Reconciliation narrative of your choice
    • Biblical texts: Matthew 5:38-48; Romans 12:14-21; Psalm 13, 23, 27 (and others); Micah 6: 1 to 7:20)(available online at Bible Crosswalk or Bible Gateway)

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4. The challenges of forgiveness
(October 24, 2005) one class

  • What is "forgiveness"? Several perspectives (Schreiter, Augsburger)
  • Challenges of forgiveness: anger and grief
  • Identity and conflict (Schreiter, Redekop)
  • The role of spiritual disciplines such as prayer

    Readings for this section:
    • Schreiter, Robert J. The Ministry of Reconciliation, pp. 52-82.
    • Redekop, Vern Neufeld. "Human Identity Needs." Chapter 2 in From Violence to Blessing: How an Understanding of Deep-rooted Conflict Can Open Paths of Reconciliation, 31-60. Ottawa: Novalis, 2002. (package of readings, graduate students)
    • Reconciliation narrative of your choice
    • Biblical texts: James 4: 1-3; Matthew 18: 21-35 (available online at Bible Crosswalk or Bible Gateway)

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5. Toward a Reconciling Peace: Creating New Meaning Through Ritual and Celebration
(October 31, 2005) one class

  • Mourning losses (Schreiter)
  • (Re)building trust
  • Celebrating hope and forgiveness (Schreiter).
  • Creating new meaning and identity (Schreiter)

    Readings for this section:
    • Schreiter, Robert J. The Ministry of Reconciliation, pp. 83-102.
    • Lederach, John Paul. The Journey Toward Reconciliation, pp. 51-96.
    • Reconciliation narrative of your choice
    • Biblical texts: Romans 8: 1-39 (particularly, 8: 14-19 and 38-39); 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27. (available online at Bible Crosswalk or Bible Gateway)

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5. Personal and Institutional Challenges for Implementation of Reconciliation
(November 21, 2005) one class

  • Roles for the church in reconciliation
  • Student presentations
  • Closing

    Readings for this section:
    • Schreiter, Robert J. The Ministry of Reconciliation, pp. 83-130. (all students)
    • Schreiter, Robert. Reconciliation: Mission and Ministry in a Changing Social Order. Maryknoll, NY: Obis Books, 1992.
    • Lederach, John Paul. The Journey Toward Reconciliation, pp. 81-202. (optional)
    • Dawson, John. "Hatredís End: A Christian Proposal to Peacemaking in a New Century." In Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Religion, Public Policy, and Conflict Transformation, edited by Raymond G. Helmick, S.J., and Rodney L. Petersen, 219-243. Philadelphia and London: Templeton Foundation Press, 2001. See an extended online version of this article (section 3 of the online version is not included in the Helmick and Petersen collection.
    • Reconciliation narrative of your choice
    • Biblical texts: Romans 8: 1-39 (particularly, 8: 14-19 and 38-39); 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27. (available online at Bible Crosswalk or Bible Gateway)

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First Assignment, due Friday, September 30, 2005 by electronic submission to the instructor.

  • Please read the course syllabus carefully,
  • Then use the internet or your own experience to locate a news story or short report about a situation requiring reconciliation anywhere in the world. Please submit the electronic link for your story. If you prefer you may send a brief summary of a personal narrative of no more than 250 words please. If you choose a personal narrative, for this exercise please choose a situation that is not unduly troubling to you at the moment and which you believe is appropriate to discuss in class.
  • In addition, please write:
    • a very brief statement (no more than 150 to 250 words) of the reason this situation interests you,
    • the area(s) of the syllabus that seem most relevant, and
    • what "reconciliation" might mean in this situation?
    • what you see as the main obstacles to reconciliation in this situation?
  • Note that students' personal narratives are kept confidential by the instructor.
  • Please submit electronically to the instructor at cmorris@lampion.bc.ca on September 30, 2005. (Please contact the instructor if you do not have access to email.)
  • Please keep a hard copy and bring it with you to class on Monday, October 3, 2005. Please be prepared to describe this situation in two ways:
    • a brief summary sentence that describes this situation in 30 seconds (no more than 30-50 words please!).
    • a brief summary outline of the facts that you can summarize in no more than 2 minutes (no more than 200-250 words please!)
  • This assignment is not graded, however, but on-time and complete and good quality submission is part of your course participation marks. Audit students are encouraged to do this assignment.
  • The reason for requested submission on this date is to assist the instructor to prepare for the class on October 3.

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Class Notes

Class notes, including powerpoint presentations by the instructor or students, are posted here for participants until the course is over:

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