Friday, January 2, 2009

The Living Library

Today, I picked up the January issue of Whole Life Times.  This is a local, free publication that describes itself as “an LA-area beacon of positivity,” bringing together “the latest and greatest in green living, social change, health and wellness, spirituality and personal growth.”  I love this magazine.   Well, in this issue was a little write-up about the Living Library (  This is a program that brings to libraries “living books,” that is, people whose lifestyles or identities are often subject to misunderstandings or stereotyping:  vegans, atheists, policemen, Muslims, male nurses, homeless people.  These “books” sit down and simply engage in conversation with the people who ‘check them out.’

I love this idea.  I’ve been reading Just Peacemaking: Transforming Initiatives for Justice and Peace by Glen H. Stassen, which I recently picked up for a buck at Salvation Army.  Stassen illuminates many ways that the Sermon on the Mount and the Book of Romans can provide concrete models for “just peace” (instead of “just war”) in our modern world.  One of these models is based on open conversation and real attempts at understanding and reconciliation.  He quotes from Pinchas Lapide’s The Sermon on the Mount: Utopia or Program for Action?: 

“Love of one’s enemies, as Jesus understood it, means far more than covering things up with a smile by tolerating enemies or holding them at a distance with politeness;  it entails an honest effort, a campaigning and struggling with them…[so that you] become reconciled.  In short—a theopolitics of little loving steps aimed at making the enemy cease to be an enemy.”

It seems to me that the Living Library is just such a ‘little loving step.’

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