Academic Programs 
      

Religion, Conflict, and Peacemaking (TH-648)

Winter/Spring 2008

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:
Winter/Spring 2008 – M.A. Schedule
Wednesdays, 4:30 to 6:50 p.m., beginning January 30, 2008


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 approach.

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 (20%), Grasp of material as
demonstrated in reflection statements (3 x 10% =30%) and final paper (50%).
Two-page reflection statements commenting on the readings are due at sessions 4, 8,
and 12: February 20, March 26, and April 23. The final paper, approximating 15
double-spaced pages, is due by May 7. A one-to-two page preview of the final paper
(including preliminary bibliography) should be submitted for feedback by April 9.

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, Kimball, Little, Abu-Nimer, Muller-Fahrenholz, Gopin, and Halevi.

January 30: The Ambivalence of the Sacred
Reading: R. Scott Appleby, The Ambivalence of the Sacred*, Introduction and chapters 1, 2, and 3.

February 6: Violent Religion — with Prof. Kelton Cobb as guest facilitator

Readings:
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 in library)

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)

February 13: Destructive Exploitation of Religion
Readings: Charles Kimball, When Religion Becomes Evil*
Selected chapters from Mark Juergensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence (on reserve)
In-class video: Faces of the Enemy by Sam Keen

February 20: Case study: West Africa — with guest facilitators Bishop John Garba
Danbinta, Rev. Francis Acquah, and Br. Minlib Dallh

Readings: Selections from Imam Mohammad N. Ashafa and Pastor James Movel Wuye, The Imam and the Pastor (on reserve)

“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
**Note: REFLECTION #1 due

February 27: 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.

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)

March 5: Conflict and Peacemaking between Jews and Muslims—with guest facilitators
Profs. Reuven Firestone and Ingrid Mattson (public event on “Abraham—Was He
the First Jew, Christian, or Muslim?”—with Profs. Reuven Firestone, Ingrid Mattson,
and Efrain Agosto following the class)

Readings: Selected chapters from Reuven Firestone, Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam (on reserve)

Reuven Firestone, “Islam Hijacked,” jewishjournal.com, Sept. 28, 2001, reprinted at islamfortoday.com (on reserve)

Reuven Firestone, “One Holy City, Three Religious Claimants,” address to the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Nov. 15, 2002 (on reserve)

Ingrid Mattson, “Stopping Oppression: An Islamic Obligation,” in September 11: Religious Perspectives on the Causes and Consequences, Markham and Abu-Rabi’ eds., pp. 101-110 (on reserve)

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)

March 12: Islam and Peace Building—with guest facilitator Imam Abdullah Antepli
Readings: Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Nonviolence and Peace Building in Islam*
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

March 19: Reading Week—NO CLASS

March 26: Christianity and Peacemaking
Readings: Geiko Muller-Fahrenholz, The Art of Forgiveness: Theological Reflections on Healing and Forgiveness*

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.

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
**Note: REFLECTION #2 due

April 2: 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)

April 9: 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 25-Year Retrospective,” lecture, Washington National Cathedral, April 8, 2003 (on reserve)
**Note: Preview of Final Paper due

April 16: 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

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

April 23: 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
**Note: REFLECTION #3 due

April 30: 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.

Douglas Johnston, “Looking Ahead: Toward a New Paradigm,” in Religion, The Missing Dimension of Statecraft, Douglas Johnston and Cynthia Sampson, eds., pp. 316-337 (on reserve)

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

May 7: Final Course Paper due

 

 


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