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Embodied Peacebuilding

Reconciliation as Practical Theology

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Leah Robinson

In the areas of peacebuilding and conflict resolution, the word ‘reconciliation’ has often been branded a negative term because it implies a resolution agreed upon by all parties in a given society, which for many seems an unachievable ideal. This book looks at the concept of reconciliation from a theological point of view, analysing its use historically within theology and presenting a new model of a practical theology of reconciliation. Using narrative research, it explores this idea within the context of Northern Ireland and offers valuable insights into the theological use of reconciliation by members of communities based in a conflict zone.
The goal of Embodied Peacebuilding is to establish reconciliation as a prominent concept in the field of practical theology and to give a voice to those peacebuilders who are using reconciliation as a common theme within Northern Ireland.
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Chapter Five: The Corrymeela Community

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← 108 | 109 → CHAPTER FIVE

The Corrymeela Community

Introduction

The predominate thing in church congregations, Protestant ones, was to condemn violence, support the security forces, and carry on with business as usual. Anybody who was outside that was an exception. Why those people are exceptions is the thing to explore. And it usually is something in their background or through some experience they have had that pushes them in another direction. So we are in the world of exceptions here, whether it’s Northern Ireland or anywhere, there is something that makes some people exceptions.1

Protestant and Catholic churches in Northern Ireland during the 1950s and 1960s were, according to Liverpool University lecturer Maria Power, ‘embroiled in discussion concerning theological issues with the occasional glance towards the idea of community relations.’2 Each denomination’s main priority during this time, it seemed, was to define itself theologically as a unique and superior entity against the other. This focus on division at a corporate level led many at a congregational level to search for a different type of theological understanding that involved finding connections between Catholics and Protestants. The move towards understanding across the divide was not always popular within the everyday local church, and thus mostly occurred outside the established congregational setting.3 These grassroots attempts at cross-community work led to what is known ← 109 | 110 → as the ecumenical movement in Ireland. Because of a lack of interest within the church to attempt cross-community endeavors, one of...

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