Item 1672 - Saying no to death

Identity area

Reference code

CA ON00389 F4-9-1-1672

Title

Saying no to death

Date(s)

  • December 1984 (Creation)

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Item

Extent and medium

5 p. of textual records

Context area

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(1932-1996)

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Scope and content

This item is a 5 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Saying No to Death’, published in Seeds by Signpost Publishing, Winnipeg, Manitoba, September 2, 1984, pp. 20 – 24. Nouwen begins the article by stating, ‘To work for peace is to work for life. But more than ever before in history we are surrounded by the powers of death’. Nouwen goes on to write about the way the current sense of nuclear threat hangs over people, especially young people who wonder if they have a future at all. At the same time, he suggests that we as human beings are fascinated by death and destruction and that much of our entertainment involves violence. In a section entitled ‘The Deadly Judgments’ Nouwen then suggests that in our thoughts and judgments about others whom we come to see as the enemy, we commit violence. ‘Judging others implies that somehow we stand outside of the place where weak, broken, sinful human beings dwell. It is an arrogant and pretentious act that shows blindness not only toward others but also toward ourselves’. Nouwen suggests that the peacemaker must have the courage ‘to see the powers of death at work even in our innermost selves’. Nouwen speaks of the nature of death as against that of life: ‘Death in all its manifestations always involves a returning to a fixed, static, unchangeable place’… Life means mobility and change. Wherever there is life there is movement and growth…essential to living is trust in an unknown future…’ Finally, Nouwen states that ‘Real resistance [to death and violence] requires the humble confession that we are partners in the evil that we seek to resist’.

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Note

Published in Seeds 4, no. 2 (December 1984): 20-24.
Although it is stated that this article is a condensed version taken from a manuscript for an upcoming book on peacemaking, a book titled Peacemaking or Peacework was not published. However, a book titled A Spirituality of Peacemaking was.
This article has been published in altered form in two books: Nouwen, Henri, The Road to Peace, Ed. John Dear, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, N.Y., 1998 in a section entitled: The House of Peace, Resisting the Forces of Death and in Nouwen, Henri, Peacework, ed. John Dear, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, N.Y. 2005, in a section entitled 'Resistance - Saying 'No'.

Alternative identifier(s)

Accession Number

2000 01

Location

Box 296

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