W. Mark Richardson
This issue of the Anglican Theological Review is a work of collaboration with Trinity Institutes 2006 annual conference titled, The Anatomy of Reconciliation. The two lead essays of this issue were presented at the conference and the third was presented at a follow-up event in the summer of 2006.
It is no surprise, in our present context, that reconciliation was the chosen theme for Trinity Institute, and that it seems urgent to sustain this theme in the ATR. Polarization in our church, in American culture, and globally are the open wounds of our day. These are social and systemic divisions beyond our personal agency. One may wonder how we, as persons, can affect the deep resentments festering in the Anglican Communion, the differences in political visions empowering some and disenfranchising others, or the perceptions of Western imperialism and Islamic terrorism shaping policy and determining the future. How are we to effect change in environmental practices which today express alienation in the relationships of self, public life, and natural world?
These essays do not begin with the social-systemic symptoms of our brokenness. Rather, the implicit assumption in each seems to be that attention to the dynamics in personal relationships is the place to begin. In personal conflicts we find elements analogous to those at work in larger scales of conflict. And we may discover the mutual informing which occurs between persons and systems. There is no domain untouched by the need for reconciliation.
Reconciliation is a central goal of moral life and relationship once one is drawn into the vision of Gods creative and purposive action of uniting all things in Christ. But in the conditions of nature and history, we find the path toward reconciliation complex and difficult. It involves a change of heart, serious self-examination, the painful task of breaking habits of action in our relations and establishing new ones, and letting go of false certainties. As William Temple states, it is all part of the movement from self as the center of value to a God-centered life. We recognize what is at stake but this makes the quest for healing and renewal of relationship no less wrenching.
From various angles our authors write about reconciliation, drawing on theological wisdom, insight from depth psychology, and years of experience in mission and ecumenical relations. The essays are varied but complementary.
James Alison, known for his theological treatment of Ren