Item 1686 - Saying no to death

Identity area

Reference code

CA ON00389 1-9-1-1686

Title

Saying no to death

Date(s)

  • September 1985 (Creation)

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Item

Extent and medium

3 p. of textual records

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(1932-1996)

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This item is a 3 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, ‘Saying No to Death’ published in Fellowship the journal of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Vol. 51, No. 9, September, 1985, pp. 9 – 11. Nouwen begins the article by citing a visit to an exclusive preparatory school where everyone seemed polite, intelligent and good mannered. However, at some point they all watched a film containing great deal of violence which was obviously entertaining to the young audience. Nouwen points to ‘the fact that a large portion of contemporary entertainment is fascinated with violence and death’. Nouwen then goes on to write of the various ways in which human beings live death which includes hatred, fear, judgment of others, desire to destroy what we fear. By judging others Nouwen suggests we play God but ‘everyone who plays God ends up acting as the demon’. Nouwen goes on to state that the peacemaker never plays God, never judges but sees others as fellow sinners and fellow saints. He suggests that, ‘As peacemakers we must have the courage to see the powers of death at work even in our innermost selves’. Nouwen points to our need to see ourselves as forgiven people rather than living in self-hatred which brings depression and fear and a form of death. In contrast to death Nouwen suggests that ‘Life mean mobility and change. Wherever there is life there is movement and growth’. Nouwen concludes by stating that ‘real resistance [to death] requires the humble confession that we are partners in the evil we seek to resist’.

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Published in Fellowship 51, no. 9 (September 1985): 9-11.
Although it is stated that this is an edited excerpt from a manuscript for a book on peacemaking, a book titled Peacemaking or Peacework was not published. However, A Spirituality of Peacemaking was published (see Manuscripts series, file 26, box 8 and 9).
This item appears in a revised form in Nouwen, Henri: Peacework: Prayer, Resistance, Community, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, N.Y., 2005 and Nouwen, Henri: The Road to Peace, ed. John Dear, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, N.Y., 1998.
There is a small black and white photo of the author on p. 9.

Alternative identifier(s)

Accession Number

2000 01

Location

Box 296

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