Published by SPCK in June, 2014
Pursuing reconciliation is a key part of the work of politicians, psychotherapists, mediators, ecologists and theologians.For the politician, reconciliation means conflict resolution. For the psychotherapist, it means inner healing and integration. For the mediator, it means enabling different parties to share a common vision. For the ecologist, it means rediscovering the balance between forces that consume and those that sustain. For the theologian, it means recognizing the relationship between God and humanity restored by Jesus Christ. However reconciliation is understood, it cannot be pursued unless all participating in the process are willing to change.
This book approaches reconciliation in a reflective way, drawing on the Christian tradition (from the Bible to the Desert Fathers and Mothers to Mary Slessor) to reveal the centrality of reconciliation for faith. It shows that Christianity can offer society a deep understanding of this concept. Reconciliation can shape a vision for the future and help define goals; it is as much about human flourishing in good times as it is about handling conflict in difficult times. Reconciliation, which is part of the nature of God, overflows with life, energy and contradictions and is fed by celebration and worship.
Drawing on examples from Mexico to Kent, from Glasgow to Zimbabwe, from Estonia to Belfast, the book sketches the contours of a reconciling life, a reconciling church and a reconciling society in the context of contemporary challenges.
In ‘a reconciling life’, the book argues the importance of celebrating and thanksgiving, the need to focus beyond the self, the significance of listening and finding one’s own voice, the centrality of inner reconciliation and the acceptance and potential of vulnerability.
In ‘a reconciling church’, the book highlights the importance of taking culture seriously asking whether the church, while necessarily focusing on civic society, has taken its eye off the significance of culture. Does approaching same-sex marriage in the spirit of reconciliation help the church in the way it views it? In a section on the importance of relationships, the book explores relationships with other churches and other faiths and asks whether the synodical system (used in different forms by many churches) is the best mechanism for the church to be reconciled to itself. The chapter concludes by briefly looking at reconciling communities and reconciling worship.
In a ‘reconciling society’, society’s potential for peacemaking and violence (reconciliation and enmity) is considered drawing on examples from national events to truth and reconciliation commissions to the environment. The final part of the book considers the inter-relatedness of faith and British society and suggests some ways in which a church which takes reconciliation seriously can engage.
Through questions and prayers at the end of each chapter and an appendix of sample liturgies, individuals and groups are invited to bring their own experiences into a discussion of reconciliation, which is not a one-off event but the journey of a lifetime.
Commendations On Back Cover:
‘In this rich and resonant meditation on reconciliation, Brian Castle has given us a book that beckons us to deeper listening, profound attentiveness and practical wisdom in the face of brokenness, struggle and discord. This is a soul-searching book in every sense; but one that brings us face to face with the God who has already searched us out and is already reconciled to us. Bishop Castle has given us a book of wise, imaginative pastoral theology, which enables us to face the chaos and pain of conflict. And yet, it also enables us to see through and beyond such strife to new possibilities, where our relationships, church and society are recalibrated and redeemed through the reconciling grace of God. This is a profound, thoughtful and beautiful book, brought to us by a scholar and bishop who is a first-class pastoral theologian. It invites us to meditate upon the reconciling nature of God that is his gift to the world and hope for our lives.’Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and former Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon
‘Writing with a deep passion for reconciliation, Brian Castle offers useful gems for those involved in this crucial ministry and those like us living in contexts where reconciliation is imperative. A “must-read” for those who take reconciliation seriously.’Chad Nicholas Gandiya, Bishop of Harare, Zimbabwe
Reviews Of Reconciliation: The Journey Of A Lifetime By Brian Castle
by Lorraine Cavanagh from Signs of the Times No. 56 – Jan 2015
This book is a clear and timely contribution to the reconciliation debate, a debate which is not only intensifying, given the current world political climate, but becoming ever more nuanced and complex. Brian Castle responds to this complexity with a nuance which is hidden in the title itself. Continue…
From Ministry Today, issue 62, November 2014.
Reconciliation: the journey of a lifetime (SPCK, London 2014; 156pp; £12.99; ISBN 978 0 281 07026 8), by Brian Castle, Bishop of Tonbridge, proved to be a good read. The author is concerned for reconciliation at every level – not just within the church, but also in the wider world. His central concern is to see what it means for Christian life and witness to put reconciliation at the heart of who we are and what we do. I particularly appreciated his comments on the relationship between forgiveness and reconciliation: “While it is possible to have forgiveness without reconciliation, it is impossible to have reconciliation without forgiveness … Forgiveness means that a relationship can continue regardless of any wrong perpetrated. The relationship after the wrong committed and forgiven may not be the same as it was before (it may even be stronger), but as a result of forgiveness, it will continue”.