Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

A Dream Denied? At Least Deferred

Hi, Gentle Readers.  Some of you know that ever since I stopped academic teaching and began working for various peace groups (especially Every Church a Peace Church from 2002-2006), I have had a dream for founding  & editing a Journal of Peace Theology for pastors and scholars, aimed at the kinds of audiences which would read Theology Today, Interpretation, Evangelical Quarterly, Modern Theology or Review and Expositor.  It wouldn’t be as “newsy” as Sojourners, Christianity Today, or The Christian Century, but it would be much less technical than the Journal of Biblical Literature or Catholic Biblical Quarterly.  This journal would concentrate on various aspects of Christian nonviolence as it relates to overall Christian theology. I was seeking an international board and international contributors from numerous Christian denominations: theologians, biblical scholars, ethicists, philosophers, and nonviolent activists and pastors who are theologically informed. 

Well, from July ’07 until tonight it looked as if that dream was on the verge of becoming reality.  There was a funding proposal for 5 years and I would have begun on 01 January ’08 to lay out a first issue and seek contributors.  I was considering how far back I would have to scale my work on this blog or whether even to shut it down altogether and get someone else to host the Christian Peace Bloggers ring (which is very little work).  Alas, it is not to be.  The organization which was going to host the journal received a fraction of its proposed funding.  If the journal is launched, it will have to be when this organization gets additional funding or when I find another funding source.

I am deeply disappointed.  I was going to work full time on the editing of this journal and I deeply believe that such a resource is needed and could be an incredible resource for the transformation of the global church in the 21st C.  On a personal level, this arrangement would have allowed me more time with my family, would have allowed the fiscal and time resources to rejoin the Society of Christian Ethics and participate in their yearly meetings (something I have greatly missed for 5 years, now), and would have enabled me to visit parts of my scattered family that I have been unable to visit for some time.  None of that will now happen–not this year.

I will have to regroup and try something else.  Frederick Buechner says that we find our calling where our passion intersects with the world’s great need.  But I have been unable to follow such a call either in the classroom, in faith-based peacemaking, or in writing.  I am now middle aged and not using my gifts for the work of God’s Rule–at least not in anything approaching a full way.  It is frustrating in the extreme.

Tonight, I go back to a job which keeps my family fed (along with my wife’s 2 jobs!) and pays for our healthcare and other benefits, but which could be done by trained gorillas, is mind-numbing, and soul destroying. Tomorrow, I will look at my resume, look at book proposals for publishers, and try again.  

The good news for those of you who find this blog useful is that it is in no danger of being shut down in the near future. It is my only regular creative outlet and keeps me sane.



September 18, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. The journal sounded like a great idea. Keep hope alive and hopefully it will become reality!

    Comment by Bob Cornwall | September 18, 2007

  2. Ah, that is such a shame!

    Have you considered adding a “Donate” button on your blog? Perhaps if every member of the webring did the same, it would bring in a little. It wouldn’t cover it, obviously, but every little helps!

    Comment by graham | September 19, 2007

  3. Michael,

    It really does sound like a very interesting proposal, and one I hope and pray comes to fruition. You are correct in saying that it is greatly needed in our pastoral world. Keep working at it, and some day it may come to be.

    Comment by Dustin | September 19, 2007

  4. Try not to be too let down; keep in mind that your life’s work may have nothing to do with what you get paid to do. Just keep writing.

    Comment by derrick | September 19, 2007

  5. Prayers.

    Comment by PamBG | September 19, 2007

  6. Michael,

    For all the disagreements and misunderstandings we have, this is one place where I can definitely relate to you. Though my struggle has not lasted nearly as long, I know the feeling of “not using my gifts for the work of God’s Rule–at least not in anything approaching a full way.” But, alas God is sovereign and still on His throne and He will use you fully according to His plan and His time. But, oh, how it pains us to wait. Blessings to you and peace while you sit in the waiting room.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | September 19, 2007

  7. Micheal, I always wish you well, but just wanted to note that after a few months not checking blogs, you seem a bit angrier than before. My simple mind has some difficulty to reconcile this with a Journal for Peace Theology, but what do I know? May the peace of our Lord be with you.

    Comment by Looney | September 19, 2007

  8. Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes, including from my critics, D.R. and Looney. Looney, whether or not I am angry depends on the day. 🙂 But anger has a place in peacemaking because peace is built on justice. Jesus got angry, you know.
    However, being angry all the time or nursing anger can be a big problem. So, I’ll take your criticism to heart and check internally to see if I have issues I need to work out in prayer. See, our critics and adversaries (dare I say, enemies?) are gifts to us from God. This helps us remember to love and pray for our enemies, critics, and adversaries–not to pretend we don’t have any.

    D.R., though I work with a different model of God’s sovereignty than you do, I take your point. May you find a pastorate soon or something that is your intersection of your gifts and passion with the world’s great needs.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | September 19, 2007

  9. Michael, wow. So very sorry to hear about this setback, and here’s to the hope that it’s only a setback, or a deferred dream and not one denied.

    Comment by Kevin Borders | September 19, 2007

  10. Me, too, Kev. I think of myself as a scholar-activist, but I haven’t been able to make a decent living as either one. I don’t want to be rich; I’m fine with simple living. But I’d like to be able to do the work I’m called to do and still keep my family clothed, fed, and in healthcare. Thanks for stopping by, Kevin. I hope to see you, Sunday.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | September 19, 2007

  11. So sorry to hear about this, Michael. Don’t give up!

    Comment by texasinafrica | September 20, 2007

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: