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Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World

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?If revenge and retaliation are the best responses that our nation couldmuster after 9/11, then Jesus did not have to come, live among us, and preach aradical understanding of ?neighbor? that includes the enemy.?

In the wake of the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, as tensions rise between Christiansand Muslims, author and religious studies professor David Carlson seeks guidancein the modern-day deserts of monastic communities across America. Are Christianityand Islam destined to ...

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Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World

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Overview

“If revenge and retaliation are the best responses that our nation couldmuster after 9/11, then Jesus did not have to come, live among us, and preach aradical understanding of ‘neighbor’ that includes the enemy.”

In the wake of the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, as tensions rise between Christiansand Muslims, author and religious studies professor David Carlson seeks guidancein the modern-day deserts of monastic communities across America. Are Christianityand Islam destined to confront one other as clashing civilizations? Peace Be with You:Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World clearly answers “No.”

Peace Be With You is the result of more than thirty interviews with abbots, nuns,monks, and other seekers at monasteries and retreat centers. Carlson reveals theuntapped wisdom of these men and women in their own words as they speak withhope to a suffering world. Follow the author on this personal, moving, and at timesdifficult journey, and discover a new yet ancient basis for genuine peace betweenChristianity and other religions—especially Islam.

“It is time for Christians to use their power to change the conversation,” Carlsonsays, “to ponder Jesus’ command to treat the stranger as our neighbor and to treatour neighbor not only as ourselves, but as God in our midst.”

"As Carlson reminds us, there is another thing stirring around the world. There is amovement of extremists for love and for grace that have been singing a different song.”

—Shane Claiborne

“One of the richest, most insightful, and most instructive books I have ever read on thebusiness of living the Christian life fully, biblically, faithfully, and non-dogmatizedly.”

—Phyllis Tickle

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Religious studies professor Carlson investigates varieties of monastic response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and their aftermath. Looking for "A Word of Life" from religious communities devoted to prayerful reflection, he finds these communities, even if physically isolated, intensely connected to the world's troubles. Over several years, Carlson visits numerous monasteries and abbeys, interviewing monks, nuns, a Mennonite pastor, and a community's potter, who share their immediate personal reactions to the attack and their communities' response. His timely exploration, coming on the tragedy's 10th anniversary, reveals his own spiritual journey throughout this research. He uncovers a range of thoughtful, challenging perspectives relating to sectarianism, suffering, incarnation, prayer, and the relationship between Christianity, Islam, and other world religions. Thomas Merton's writings are woven into the book's conversations and reflections, especially Merton's views on the mystical Christ, which lead Carlson to reflect: "the one God is a humanity-permeated God." A powerful, insightful guide addressing highly sensitive theological issues, this book may prove accessible and helpful to many who seek to counter terrorism with faith. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Carlson (religious studies, Franklin Coll.), a scholar of monasticism, Orthodox-Catholic relations, and adult faith development, here offers an idiosyncratic mixture of spiritual autobiography and interfaith study. After 9/11, Carlson embarked on a long journey, interviewing more than 30 abbots, nuns, monks, and other religious leaders in an attempt to articulate new ways that Christianity and Islam, despite their apparent differences, might find a rapprochement. Carlson embraces, with some pain, the idea that Christ is found in the "woundedness" of the world, and that the only way forward is for all faiths to live more fully in their own faith, with compassion. VERDICT Carlson's moving personal journey reaches far beyond his own identities as a male, Christian, and academic, to address the questions many have asked over the past ten years; both individuals and church groups should benefit.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780849947186
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/2/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 819,533
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

David Carlson, PhD is a professor and the Charles B. and Kathleen O. Van Nuys Deans Fellow in Religious Studies at Franklin College where he has served since 1978. He received his education at Wheaton College, American Baptist Seminary of the West, and University of Aberdeen, Scotland. His scholarly interests include monasticism, Orthodox-Catholic relations, and faith development of college students and adults. He writes columns on religion, culture, and politics for multiple newspapers.
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Read an Excerpt

PEACE BE WITH YOU

MONASTIC WISDOM FOR A TERROR-FILLED WORLD
By DAVID CARLSON

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2011 David Carlson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8499-4718-6


Chapter One

"Where Are the Prophets?"

The Monastery of Christ in the Desert Abiquiu, New Mexico January 11, 2007

I began my travels to monasteries fully aware that monks and nuns might not wish to offer advice to the outside world. I was prepared to reply that I was not asking them to lecture American culture but rather to respond to the thousands of others like me who are seeking some light, some way forward, in an increasingly dark world. This hope for light was precisely what drew me to monastic communities.

Nearly all religions have a contemplative branch, an option that encourages reflection and solitude. Very early in Christian history, men and women chose to live apart from society where they could devote their lives to the disciplines of prayer, reading, and manual work. Even before Christianity was legalized in AD 312, these men and women found the Christian life in urban areas to be too lax and too comfortable. The first religious desert dwellers were hermits living alone in caves, but soon communities formed around a leader, an abbot or abbess, who led the group in a common rule for life.

Monasteries that go bad, as many monastic houses have done in Christian history, go bad for the same general reason. The monastic salt loses its savor when the community loses its seriousness, sacrifice, and solitude. When monasteries find it easy to conform to the surrounding culture, monasteries lose their reason for existence.

Nearly every monastic community I visited expressed the same worry, that its life was in danger of becoming too comfortable, its sacrifices too few, its contrast to the culture too faint. Father Columba Stewart of Saint John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, expressed a concern of all monks and nuns: "In common with most monasteries of our kind, we are finding that our forms of entertainment are becoming more and more like those of the culture around us. We see the same videos and TV shows, read the same books, visit the same restaurants, stores, and websites. With the coming of the Internet, 'separation from the world' has become even more challenging."

While planting a monastery in a remote forest or desert does not by itself protect a community from these dangers, physical isolation brings with it certain logistical challenges—food, shelter, medical care—that make life more difficult. The Monastery of Christ in the Desert, lying thirteen miles off the highway down a forest road in northern New Mexico, is just such a place. Founded in 1964 by Father Aelred Wall, the Monastery of Christ in the Desert was deliberately set in an inconvenient location.

From the moment this project became real in my mind, I knew that my first visit would be to Christ in the Desert. This Benedictine house in New Mexico was where I had heard the first "knock on the door" while doing research there in 2001. I also believed that the extreme solitude of the place would help me find my footing with the project. In that hope, I was echoing the belief of Father Aelred, who, in 1964, understood the desert to offer "a place where one sees the true proportion of things, a place of purification and repentance, a place where God's providence becomes unmistakably clear." Finally, my previous work with Brother Isaac in 2001 led me to believe that Abbot Philip might be open to my request to interview in the community.

In early November 2006, I wrote to Abbot Philip, explaining the project and asking permission to visit. Not long after Thanksgiving, I received word that my request to come in mid-January had been granted. About the same time, I received an invitation to conduct interviews at St. Michael's Skete, an Orthodox monastery located about forty miles away in another canyon near Cañones, New Mexico.

The prospect of beginning the project began to affect not only my waking hours (composing interview questions, making travel arrangements, and applying for grants), but also my dream life as well. In late December, I dreamed that a colleague, a counselor at the college, was telling me that I needed heart surgery. Something very deep in my upbringing, he said, needed to be repaired.

Clearly, my psyche was aware that something major in my life was coming, something demanding a deep change. At least, that was what I hoped the dream meant.

One unexpected change in my plans occurred when our older son, Leif, expressed a desire to accompany me to Christ in the Desert. He had become acquainted with Christ in the Desert through a program on the Learning Channel entitled Monastery, a series that Leif then drew to my attention. A cross between a documentary on monastic life and Survivor, the program followed five young men as they struggled for forty days in monastic life at Christ in the Desert.

When Leif asked if he could tag along on my visit, I told him he was welcome to do so, if he could get time off from work at the Peace Learning Center in Indianapolis. At the time, I had no way of knowing that Leif's own experience at Christ in the Desert would contribute so much to my own.

On January 9, the day before our flight, US planes bombed Somalia. While the war on terror gave birth to yet another battlefront, Leif and I arrived safely in Albuquerque and learned of record snowfalls in the northern canyons. To be on the safe side, we rented a four-wheel-drive vehicle and headed north.

Several hours later, we found the turnoff and followed the forest road for thirteen miles down to the Chama River and then to the monastery. The road was as bad as I remembered it from my trip there six years earlier, and the drive was breathtakingly frightful. Later that evening, at compline, the last service of the evening, the monks prayed for guests and monks who had to travel in and out on the road. The prayer is necessary. While we were there, one guest straggled in on the morning after she was supposed to arrive, her truck having gotten stuck in the two feet of snow that had fallen overnight.

During our stay, the skies alternated between blinding sunlight and heavy snow showers. At times, we could not even see the church from the guesthouse, while at other times we were overwhelmed by the cliffs and canyons that surround the monastery. Some of these rock formations are jagged. Others are so smooth and striated that the canyon seems to be made of Neapolitan ice cream.

As is true of many monastic houses, the history of Christ in the Desert has been one of financial struggle. This reality is obscured, however, by the stunning adobe buildings, particularly the wondrous church by the noted architect George Nakashima.

The visitors' center and refectory are also new and impressive, the massive frescoes alone contributing to a sense of luxuriousness. Leif and I entered the building and found the bookstore open. Hoping to make contact with someone, we ran into Prior Christian. Tall, bearded, and sockless in sandals despite the cold, Prior Christian sent my heart into near arrhythmia when he confessed to knowing nothing about my visit.

But as I briefly explained the project, Prior Christian brightened and immediately shared his own memory of being in Mass on September 11 when the planes hit the towers. Why, I wondered, had I not brought my tape recorder?

Prior Christian described how the monastery, with no radio or TV on that morning, had first heard about the tragedy via the Internet. Then he mentioned a column he'd just finished writing for the monastery's newsletter, the subject of the column being why World Trade Center and Flight 93 were his two favorite movies of the past year. "What will be hit next?" he asked. "The Golden Gate Bridge?"

My heart was racing. I'd not been at the monastery more than thirty minutes and hadn't even asked one question, but this monk was talking about the very subject that I'd come to discuss. I took it as a good omen that I'd run into the monastery's leader (the prior is in charge when the abbot is away, which was the case during our visit) and that he was giving me gold without my even having to pan for it. I pictured the two of us sitting down for a longer chat, when, with my tape recorder running, he could share to his heart's content—and mine—his memories and thoughts.

When I told him of my hope, the prior shook his head. My heart took another dive as he told me that I was asking the impossible. With the abbot away on a much-needed sabbatical and with one of the monastery's key board members arriving the next day for an important financial meeting, my request was completely out of the question.

I could hear the desperation and impatience in my voice as I asked him to consider finding fifteen minutes—which, in truth, would have been useless—in the four days of our stay. No, he repeated kindly but firmly. He wished my project the best but said that I should not count on him at all. But as he left the bookstore, he called back that he'd try to find a copy of his newsletter column on 9/11 before I left.

A PRAYER AT THE EMPTY ALTAR

I left for vespers feeling ashamed and chastened. In my first hour on the job, I had betrayed my own vow to be a patient listener and had tried to force my will on the project. I recommitted myself to taking whatever the stay at Christ in the Desert would give me, though it would not be the last time during the project that I would try to force matters to go my way.

At vespers, I scanned the small clusters of monks on both sides of the stone altar as they chanted my least favorite psalm. Psalm 137 is a lament of the exiles in Babylon and ends with a prayer for God to bring the day soon when Babylonian babies would be dashed against a rock.

I did my best to forget the words as I focused on the church itself. Built in a Greek cross plan, the stunning church has four wings that jut out from the central open space. Guests sit in the west wing, their eyes drawn to the massive windows soaring upward to the sheer cliff face outside. In the early morning, the cliff face seems to hold the sun back as it rises to light the valley, while in the evening the same cliff catches the day's last rays. The stunning sight was what I most remembered from my two previous visits.

But that night, my focus remained in the church and on the empty altar in the center, set precisely where the two arms of the cross intersect. The altar's stone base rises out of the ground like some ancient pillar. Rough-hewn, the stone base looks as if it had been transported halfway around the world from a catacomb of Rome. The altar top is a slab of stone as well, but smooth.

I aimed a prayer at the empty altar. "Lord, help me not to be so hungry for this work that I forget to wait upon You."

On the way to dinner after that service, Leif and I met Brother André, the guestmaster, who was my contact for the project. Short and bespectacled, Brother André looks a lot like Bob Newhart. And with Newhart's deadpan face and with the problem of another winter storm on the way, Brother André looked like a man shouldering many concerns, with my interviews being pretty low on the list. "We'll talk about the interview tomorrow," he said.

The interview? Was he saying there was only one? Yes, he replied, explaining that many of the monks at Christ in the Desert are from Southeast Asia, Africa, or Central America (as I'd noticed at vespers). They had told Brother André that they did not feel comfortable being interviewed. And the older monks had begged off, saying that their memories of 9/11 were too fuzzy. What about Brother Isaac? I asked, referring to the monk I'd interviewed back in 2001. Gone, he said. He'd left monastic life.

At the evening meal in the new refectory—monks sitting on one side, guests on the other, the prior sitting alone at the head table—I assessed the situation. We had flown out of Indiana at six o'clock in the morning and driven the crazy road to the monastery for one interview?

I remembered my prayer a few moments before in the church. "Lord, help me not to be so hungry for this work that I forget to wait upon You." I amended the prayer. "Okay, Lord, if it's one interview, it's one interview. But how about making it a good one?"

A CALL TO CHANGE—BROTHER ANDRÉ

Brother André and I sat down for the interview after the morning work period on January 11, 2007, my first full day at Christ in the Desert. He had avoided meeting my gaze earlier that morning, and I grew worried that he might cancel the interview. But I was also curious about his behavior. Brother André had e-mailed me several months before, inviting me to visit and to interview. Why the reticence now?

At the agreed-upon time, we met in Brother André's office, where a computer and phone provide the monastery's sole link to the outside world. I set up my recording equipment and explained briefly the origins of the project, all the while aware that this was the first official interview of the project. How many interviews would follow before the project was completed? I wondered. Ten, twenty, maybe more? Or maybe just this one.

Brother André began with a comment that I would hear several times over the life of the project: he was not the person to ask about how the community of Christ in the Desert had responded to 9/11 because he had been away at the time.

Monks and nuns do take vows of stability, meaning that they promise to remain at their particular monastery until death or until reassignment by the abbot. But monastics also take a vow of obedience. As the voice of Christ in the community, the abbot or abbess can send a member away for further education or to conduct needed work. In September 2001, Brother André had been sent to St. Anselm University in New York to take course work.

As Brother André shared his memories of 9/11, I realized that we had experienced that tragedy not very differently, as I had assumed, but quite similarly. We had both learned of the tragedy while in an educational setting. He heard the news from his professor, even as I, as a professor, knew that I would need to talk to my students about what had happened.

After attending a special noontime Mass at the university, Brother André retreated to the student pub, where he watched the same footage the rest of us around the country and world were watching. But Brother André focused on a smaller and perhaps more manageable memory of the day. The mother of one of Brother André's fellow monks in New York (he was staying at a monastery adjoining the university) had died the previous weekend, and her funeral was held the night of September 11. "It wasn't bad enough with 9/11," he said, "but I had to go to a funeral of someone I didn't even know." He described how disoriented he felt at the reception, trying to be pleasant to people whom he did not know, all the while struggling to grasp what had happened in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania.

That evening, Brother André remembered writing in his journal, "Why did this happen? Why?"

But after writing "Why did this happen?" in his journal, Brother André wrote another question, one that few Americans considered on 9/11: "Why not?" While he was quick to say that he did not condone the actions of the hijackers, he realized, when he considered the radical Islamic view of the West, that, from their point of view, "they're getting back at us for the way we're living."

I could not tell at this point if Brother André was simply trying to view the tragedy from another perspective, or if he'd agreed with some aspects of the radical perspective. My confusion cleared when Brother André explained that 9/11 made him recall the ancient covenant between God and Israel. "When you look at the Old Testament ... when the people strayed from Yahweh, things would happen to them. [God] let the enemy come in, or they'd be sent to Babylon in exile."

The West, in Brother André's view, is in the same shape as Israel during the days of the early prophets. He shook his head, saying he couldn't accept the thought that God had directly caused 9/11, but he did believe that "God lets things happen ... I think we're paying for our sins. I think of that a lot." He shook his head again at the irony of our nation forcing change on Iraq when we need to change ourselves.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from PEACE BE WITH YOU by DAVID CARLSON Copyright © 2011 by David Carlson. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Author's Note ix

Prologue: In Search of a "Word of Life" 1

Part 1 voices from the desert

Chapter 1 "Where Are the Prophets?" 17

Chapter 2 Caught Between Paradise and Wilderness 33

Chapter 3 9/11Should Have Been a Bridge to the World 40

Chapter 4 Here We Have No Lasting City 50

Chapter 5 9/11s Most Taboo Word-Forgiveness 75

Part 2 voices from america's heartland

Chapter 6 Thomas Merton.- The Man at the Intersection 95

Chapter 7 Merton's Men 112

Chapter 8 The Other President of the United States 122

Chapter 9 Others Are Waiting for Us at the Center 143

Chapter 10 Interlude: Sister Peggy (Cecily) 161

Chapter 11 You Just Keep Turning the Prayer Wheel 165

Chapter 12 Feet of Clay 186

Chapter 13 The Scent of Holiness 201

Part 3 overcoming hate

chapter 14 Light and Darkness 227

EpilogueThe Light Shines in the Darkness 256

Afterword: The Death of Osama bin Laden and America's Via Dolorosa 268

Notes 272

About the Author 276

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 28, 2011

    Good read

    I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book. At the time that I had ordered it, there were no reviews written about it (and the reviews that did come in shortly thereafter seemed quite grim). A lot of people who wrote reviews seemed offended by the author's attempt to tap many different sources. However, I found this quite helpful in understanding the effects of 9/11 seen around the world.

    The book, which focuses around many interviews with monks, clergy and other religious figures, addresses the reactions that these people had to the events that happened in September ten years ago. Using a style that is not so often found in academic writing (first person), the author explores the lives of the people that the world does not often pay attention to: monks in remote locations.

    At one point, the author asks a troubling line of questioning made to make the reader think. He said: "Was 9/11 something like what the Japanese experienced in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?" (43) And indeed, it is troubling, but not because it is incorrect, but because it is something that people in North America don't really think about. It seems that 9/11 created an atmosphere of loathing and self-pity that "only seemed to isolate [the United States] further from the rest of the world (43)."

    However, as the first section progressed, the author began to touch on a more radical teaching that could be perceived as controversial: love your enemy. Being a Christian who completely loves the words written in red in my Bible (words Jesus spoke), I found this to be the greatest contribution to the 9/11 debates. In the author's own personal revelation he said: "I felt that I could be an American after 9/11 and ignore Jesus' radical forgiveness, but I could not do that and still be a Christian (91)." A challenging and interesting thought: 'forgive the terrorists.'

    After reading that section of the book, I could see why it was not appreciated by many who reviewed it before me, but to deny that one simple thought is to deny Jesus' teachings of love.

    Continuing in a similar matter, and no doubt an unpopular one, the author touched on the other side of the issue - what the terrorists thought. He rightly points out that the rhetoric that was being spewed by the United States was being mirrored by al-Qaeda. For instance, "both see peace in the world coming through the annihilation of the other. But since this is impossible, both seem to be promising unending warfare (132)." It's true, isn't it? But we don't like to look at it that way.

    In an interview, the author noted that it was critical to find an alternative to fighting, and that it should be added that we are one. "The whole world was affected, but you have to know that the whole world is affected by good in the same way (134)."

    The book is a story of religious awakening for the author. He learned the many different views from many different religious leaders, which caused a genuine revelation. In reading this book, I can see why there would be some more conservative readers who would find great opposition to it, however, that should not detract from the message the author has put forward. The book was not a difficult read, but tended to drag on in particular areas. He had many important and insightful conversations that fueled the core of the book.

    Indeed, may "Peace be with you. May peace come soon to our sorrowful world (271)."

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2011

    Loving Our Enemies

    David Carlson's book, Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World, is at its core a look at how to truly love our enemies. Carlson desired to see how those in monastic communities responded when the events of 9/11 unfolded. Most of us expect monks and nuns to be isolated and unaffected by what goes on in the world. Carlson found that not be the case. If anything, monastics wrestled with the events on a deeper and more meaningful level.

    Carlson traveled to monasteries from different backgrounds (Catholic, Orthodox, Trappist, etc.) across the United States, interviewing those whom were willing to share (and had the time to do so while he was with them) about their response to the terrorist attacks. While none were unified in their responses, all asked deeper questions about what the attacks meant for our nation while fearing a vengeful response. Peace Be with You is an insightful book for looking at how God calls us to respond to our enemies.as well as looking at our own lives in this world. The book also helps look at Muslim-Christian relationships and how we can better bridge the gaps between us. While the book does get heavy and depressing at times (which is natural when dealing with 9/11), it does provide good insight.

    I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommended

    For those wanting a "monastic view" of 9/11 this book is for you' This is not your "red, white & blue" view of 9/11' This is a scholar looking for his meaning of said date and happenings. It is his journey to the homes of various monastics and interviews of these monastic's; their answers to what they were doing. their thoughts, and their views of 9/11 and it's opportunities lost and taken by us as a nation. The author begins in questions for the monks and their answers; but in the end finds his own answers to those very same questions. During this journey, the author introduces the reader to the renown monk, Abbot Thomas Merton. It is just one of the monks and monasteries the reader will meet and visit while traveling through this very well written book. Looking for a new way to look at 9/11? Read this book' I did and now I have a new and different view of 9/11 and all that took place that terrible and eventful day so long ago' "Peace Be with You"

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 30, 2011

    Thought (and Heart) Provoking Book

    Peace Be With You by David Carlson is a multidimensional book. It is at the same time a reflection on how we react / deal with terrorism, an apology for monastic life, and a biographical look at how one person came to terms with 9/11 in his own life.
    At first blush, the main point of the book, forgiveness as a reaction to terrorism, is rather simplistic and perhaps pie-in-the-sky for all of us who consider the effect of terrorism, and the 9/11 event specifically, in our lives. Appealing to monks and nuns for a proper stance in our everyday work life seems naïve. However, there is an eternal truth that is at the heart of the book. If you accept Jesus' teachings as a rule of life, there is no escaping that this is the path that He demands. Also, there is great wisdom (in my limited understanding) to the idea that darkness cannot overcome darkness: only light can. And that light comes with a conscious decision to forgive. This does not mean that we become a doormat on which any terrorist can walk. Instead, it is a decision that we do not let the pain and anger that come from terrorism control our thoughts and actions and reactions.
    I read this book in the days surrounding the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 events, and images on TV reminded me of our country's reactions to the attacks. Very little was said about understanding why we were attacked, but instead, a commitment to vengeance. Understanding might or might not have led us in another direction, but I believe it might have helped heal wounds quicker. I still don't think most of us have a clear understanding of the history of the animosity between the radical groups behind the attacks and ourselves.
    Carlson shares his journey of understanding and forgiving, which took detours through depression as he readily shares with readers. The personal journey gives credence to the path he suggests. The wisdom of the monks and nuns which is perhaps dismissed by many, helped enlighten the path Carlson took, and which he suggests to the reader as well.

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  • Posted August 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Not great doctrine

    Love. Doesn't that seem to be lacking in our culture today? With wars, lawsuits, and crimes running rampant, it seems that we have a little more hate in our culture then we do love. This is one of the reasons that David Carlson decided to do research in the monasteries and retreat centers across New Mexico. Interviewing many of the inhabitants, David deduced the theory that as Americans, having a war is unbiblical, and more, UN Christlike. Through this book, David asks if we as the body of Christ are really doing our job as believers, sharing the love of Christ in a world that only knows hate. Or, are we simply sitting on the sidelines and cheering on those doing things against God's perfect will. I was bitterly disappointed with this book. Rather then encouraging the body of Christ to do our best to help our brothers and sisters in need, it is somewhat condemning, making the reader feel as if a "bad" christian if he was not fighting the war on the war on terror. Unfortunately, I disagreed with the majority of the philosophy of this book. I was disappointed, because I have liked most of Thomas Nelson's books up until now. I wouldn't really recommend this book to anyone, sadly, it was one of those books I just disagreed on the doctrine. But that is another post in and of itself

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  • Posted August 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Peace post 9/11

    Peace Be With You: Monastic Wisdom For A Terror- Filled World By David Carlson, is a timely book written in the post 9-11 world. According to the author, David Carlson, The collective American grief over 9/11 "could have become a bridge of understanding and empathy to others in the world who have known (and continue to experience) horrendous suffering. But that has not happened. I had yet to hear anyone ask, 'Was 9/11 something like what the Japanese experienced in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?' Instead, 9/11 only seemed to isolate us further from the world. To most Americans, the tragedy of 9/11 was experienced as a bubble of suffering so unique that only we could possibly feel the severity of the pain. Our grief seemed to become our private possession." Page 45 Perhaps many of the victims and families of victims might find Carlson's position harsh and perhaps simplistic. On the otherhand, Carlson may appear to be a political liberal or pacifist. After all, the events of 9/11 initiated a regenerated form of national pride and patriotism- and the focus on America is partly the definition of patriotism- which has distinguished our nation from all others.

    Most people do not have the luxury, the time or means to visit monestaries- and the seclusion and wisdom that can best be appreciated within the confines of a monestary. Of course, some good points are made as well as biblical wisdom, yet peace at all costs is not a just peace. And peace without justice is in fact meaningless. Nevertheless, the extensive work that the author put into this book, reveals a unique and often untold perspective of those silent voices in response to 9/11. For those readers interested in 9/11 studies, histories and writings, this book offers a good compliment to the various 9/11 works already written.

    As a blogger for booksneeze, I recieved this book from Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of writing this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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  • Posted August 8, 2011

    Not what I expected

    Have you ever read the blurb on a book and became so excited about what you read that you could not wait to read it? Well, this is how I felt when I read what "Peace Be With You" by David Carlson. From the beginning I had difficulty reading this book, reading and rereading chapters for clarity I did not enjoy this book.
    Intellectually I have read books in which I consider out of my league yet I was able to plow through them with success. Admittedly I have no idea why being in contact with a monasteries and abbeys aided in the enlightenment of the author. Perhaps the comment about Franklin Graham, whose opinions I respect, hindered my being able to receive any truths from this author. Whatever the problem was I walked away not being able to recommend this book.
    Though I agree as believers in Jesus we should show love to all men and women I do not believe it is necessary for me to study other faiths particularly that of Islam. It is my personal belief that any faith that does not support Jesus Christ as the Son of God is anti-Jesus; a.k.a. anti-Christ. Though I love the sinner I will continue to hate the sin and I cannot embrace another faith as equal to mine because it is not.

    Note: though I did not like this book you may enjoy it.

    This book was provided to me free of charge by BookSneeze in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

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    Posted September 20, 2011

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    Posted November 12, 2011

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