Healing Haunted Histories: A Settler Discipleship of Decolonization

Healing Haunted Histories: A Settler Discipleship of Decolonization

by Elaine Enns, Ched Myers


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Healing Haunted Histories tackles the oldest and deepest injustices on the North American continent. Violations which inhabit every intersection of settler and Indigenous worlds, past and present. Wounds inextricably woven into the fabric of our personal and political lives. And it argues we can heal those wounds through the inward and outward journey of decolonization.
The authors write as, and for, settlers on this journey, exploring the places, peoples, and spirits that have formed (and deformed) us. They look at issues of Indigenous justice and settler "response-ability" through the lens of Elaine's Mennonite family narrative, tracing Landlines, Bloodlines, and Songlines like a braided river. From Ukrainian steppes to Canadian prairies to California chaparral, they examine her forebearers' immigrant travails and trauma, settler unknowing and complicity, and traditions of resilience and conscience. And they invite readers to do the same.
Part memoir, part social, historical, and theological analysis, and part practical workbook, this process invites settler Christians (and other people of faith) into a discipleship of decolonization. How are our histories, landscapes, and communities haunted by continuing Indigenous dispossession? How do we transform our colonizing self-perceptions, lifeways, and structures? And how might we practice restorative solidarity with Indigenous communities today?

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781725255357
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 02/01/2021
Series: Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice Series
Pages: 426
Sales rank: 431,939
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.87(d)

About the Author

Elaine Enns has worked across the restorative justice field since 1989, from facilitating victim-offender dialogue in the Criminal Justice System to addressing historical violations and intergenerational trauma. With a DMin from St. Andrews College Saskatoon, she trains and teaches throughout North America, and with her partner Ched published the two-volume Ambassadors of Reconciliation: A New Testament Theology and Diverse Christian Practices of Restorative Justice and Peacemaking (Orbis Books, 2009). They codirect Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries (www.bcm-net.org).

Ched Myers is an activist theologian and New Testament expositor working with peace and justice issues. He is a popular educator, animating scripture and literacy in historic and current social change movements. Myers has published over a hundred articles and eight books, including Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark's Story of Jesus (Orbis, 1988). He and Elaine are ecumenical Mennonites based in the Ventura River Watershed of southern California in traditional Chumash territory.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Healing Haunted Histories shows how it is possible—even necessary—to braid together the truth of family stories of immigration, including their traumatic silences; a thoughtful inhabitation of places and watersheds; a radical Christianity, not the religion of power and whiteness; and a deep commitment to confronting the settler mythologies of entitlement in North America. Practical and personal, this book will be a trustworthy guide for many in the decolonizing work that lies ahead."

—Roger Epp, Professor of Political Science, University of Alberta

"I didn't know how Enns and Myers would hold it all together, but they did! I was especially impressed (coming from a historian's perspective) with their ability to traverse the Canada/US divide. The histories are different, but the book showed us both the common ground and the differences seamlessly, and didn't let either side of the border off the hook! The insistent and yet compassionate interrogation of the authors' own family narrative is a rare gift—and a model. The personal threads woven throughout the work help keep it indeed 'intelligible and accessible,' but without sparing us the important critical theory or the necessary details."

—Sandra Beardsall, Professor of Church History and Ecumenics, St. Andrew's College, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

"Beautifully written, I can feel the heart, courage, and passion that went into this text. I learned a ton about Mennonite history, trauma, and the importance of 'bloodlines work.' I was inspired by the compassionate and bold call to imagine and dance a reparative future. More importantly, Healing Haunted Histories, through its careful weaving of personal narrative, decolonizing theory, and biblical imagination, fills a real gap. I know nothing like it! Routinely, I paused while reading and said to myself, this is going to be used in church circles, and it's going to make a difference."

—Steve Heinrichs, Director of Indigenous-Settler Relations for Mennonite Church Canada

"I was inspired and challenged and re-oriented. I'm so grateful to have been part of this conversation over the years, and reading this now (in a time when my mind/heart/body is caught up with many complex institutional responsibilities in a very unstable time) has been life-giving. The authors' re-membering and discipleship have lifted my eyes to broader horizons and deeper longings. Their explorations of archaeology and cartography were deeply engaging for me."

—Eileen Klassen Hamm, Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan

"This is an excellent book. The rubric of 'haunted histories' is a compelling one with real heuristic value. It is well-written, well-organized, remarkably well-researched, and combines very powerful storytelling with outstanding analysis. I think it sparked about five hundred sermon ideas! Haunted Histories has put into words so many of the 'deep knowings' that I have as a settler/aspiring ally. I'm very grateful for that, knowing that I'll be much more articulate on these matters as I continue in the work and continue as a preacher."

—Russell Daye, Lead Minster, St. Andrew's Church, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and author of Political Forgiveness

"I will use this book in materials I continue to develop for the United Church of Canada. I really feel like it is a piece that we can use to take responsibility for our ongoing complicity in colonization. Thanks to the authors for doing the work, which I know is hard."

—Sara Stratton, Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice Animator, Toronto, The United Church of Canada

"The themes resonate deeply with me, as they are parallel to what I also continue to examine. I am very grateful for Enns' and Myers' careful and insightful work. They have wrestled hard with many difficult storylines—and at the same time opened up avenues for the reader to explore their own storylines."

—Luke Gascho, Executive Director Emeritus of Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College, Indiana

"Intimate, rigorous, accountable, and transformative—Enns and Myers offer both challenge and accompaniment to white settler Christians striving to bring their whole selves to the necessary work of deep, authentic, and radical solidarity with Indigenous peoples. The centering of women's voices and experiences makes this book an even more essential read for those prepared to risk being truly 'unsettled' in the pursuit of justice."

—Jennifer Henry, Executive Director, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Toronto

"In Healing Haunted Histories Elaine Enns and Ched Myers excavate the traumatic impact of settler colonialism and reckon the resulting settler amnesia with a Christian model of restorative justice that foregrounds Indigenous perspectives, experiences, and histories."

—Jonathan Cordero (Ohlone and Chumash), Assistant Professor of Sociology, California Lutheran University

"Healing Haunted Histories is a powerful testimony, a prophetic witness, and a humble gesture toward 'saving the soul of America' through deep engagement with our own family stories. The 'bloodlines, landlines, and songlines' motif echoes the ancient Hebrew folk wisdom 'a cord of three strands is not quickly broken' (Eccl 4:12). The interbraiding of all three strands is what will make these transformational conversions hold strong. As people of faith, we trust that it is possible to heal the past. The authors' healing work here is skilled and true. Each one of us must learn and practice telling our own stories in a restorative justice mode. That is how we enter the joyful ceremony of mature humanity. If you were to map all the place names mentioned here in North America, it almost creates a circle: Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Pacific Coast, Laguna Pueblo, New Orleans, across the South, up to DC, New York, Toronto, and back to Saskatchewan. A great Turtle Island round dance for the healing of the nations!"

—Rose Marie Berger, author of Bending the Arch: Poems, and senior editor at Sojourners magazine

"Rarely is a book so timely, urgent, and compelling. I believe that people will feel their hearts woven into the stories, the healing, and the challenge. Will we be made whole? This book of discipleship, filled with knowledge, insight, and information that you will find both practical and revolutionary at the same time, has quite a few artifacts from the world to come. I hope that many will be read by it."

—Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop for that part of Turtle Island that is often called Canada

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