DR Congo: Rwanda Should Stop Aiding War Crimes Suspects via Human Rights Watch
Rwanda Army Officials Supporting Congo Rebels via Reuters
Rwanda is Backing Atrocities in the Congo via Falling Whistles
Hi all, I'm coming up for air again after the birth of my second son. I've been a bit of an online hermit recently, I'll admit it, but sleepless nights and days with two under two can do that to a person. Anyhow, the big news is that I have another book coming out with Thomas Nelson publishers in May 2013. This one is vastly different than As We Forgive, but flowing from the same heart and that is to glorify God by illuminating his work in the world. My new book is called Waiting in Wonder: A Devotional Journal for Expectant Moms. Here's the brief synopsis:
A miracle unfolds inside you—from the jolt of first heartbeat, to the buds of tiny fingers, to the flutter of little kicks. During pregnancy, your body nourishes this quiet miracle, but your soul also needs nourishment. And in a very real way, you are eating for two—strengthening your own spiritual life so that you may one day strengthen the spiritual life of this child entrusted to you. In the pages of this devotional journal, you will awaken to a deeper sense of awe for who God is and what He is doing. As you marvel more deeply in God and His handiwork, you will find space to record the overflow of your praise, as well as prayers and love notes for your little one. Nourishment for mom, a keepsake for baby—this one of a kind devotional journal, Waiting in Wonder, makes the perfect gift to give yourself or an expectant mom you know.
Exciting huh? I'm nearly done writing the book: my deadline is July 1. And as soon as I get the first draft finished I'll be turning my attention to launching a new website-- www.catherineclairelarson.com where you can follow all things related to my book writing, blog writing, and freelancing. I'm terribly impatient to get the site up and running, but for now I've got a book to finish. Just wanted to update you and any of my new Twitter followers of the latest, and what to watch for in the months ahead. Stay tuned for more on the launch of my facebook author fan page soon.
If you happened to be on CNN's homepage today, you got a glimps of a photo essay by the very talented celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart, who traveled to Rwanda this summer with filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson to photograph some of the faces of forgiveness and reconciliation. Among these faces, you will see John and Chantal, whose stories are told in both the film and in my book. I also spotted a few backdrops I recognized as well as a few other people who I interviewed for the book, but whose stories did not get included. You can check out the moving photo essay here and Jeremy's own thoughts on the radical power of forgiveness in this article also posted on CNN today.
Mark Moring in Christianity Today has an insightful piece which recently hit the web about a new film documenting the work of one man, John Caulkner and his grassroots efforts at forgiveness and reconciliation in the wake of Sierra Leone's civil war. The film entitled Fambul Tok, or literally family talk, takes its name from the bonfire discussions between perpetrators and victims. Moring points out some of the salient pieces of reconciliation missing from this process: restitution, time, and the element of faith. Moring also touches on the issue of forgetting, and whether or not it has a place in the forgiveness process. The best work I've seen on this subject is by far, The End of Memory by Miroslav Volf. You'll find a link to it and of course, to my book in the Amazon links on this page.
A recent trailer at the movie theater caught my attention. If you haven't heard of the upcoming film, Machine Gun Preacher, I'm sure you will soon. I'm eager to see it not only because the film unfolds against the backdrop of Sudan, but also because the main character played by Gerard Butler is a Christian trying to do the right thing. But should the right thing involve taking up arms? The film apparently raises more questions than it answers. I'm eager to see it and decide for myself, but for now, I want to point you to an interesting article about the film by my former colleague Anne Morse. Take a look at "Not My Mother's Christian Film" over at National Review Online.
As the ten year anniversary of 9-11 approaches, many wonder is it time for Americans to forgive the atrocities of that day. Others shudder at the thought. Daniel Clendenin has tackled the subject over at patheos.com.
Here's a great piece about a privileged young lady from Tampa, Florida who felt called to dedicate her life to giving to the people of Rwanda. I found her story inspiring. But I was perplexed by the negative responses from some of the readers who felt Bearden should do her good works closer to home. Take a look at the comments to see how Michelle Bearden gives us a great picture of how to graciously respond when one is treated ungraciously.
I have really mixed feelings about this article posted recently in The Washington Times. It concerns the efforts to close orphanages in Rwanda. While the goal to get children into families seems lofty, the author points to the real-life problems that orphans encounter in Rwanda. One of the subjects she points out and that I found to be true when interviewing orphans for my book is the touchy subject of land. Those who lost parents in the genocide often also lost the most valuable commodity in Rwanda today, land. When orphans come back to the areas where their family is from, many in the community feel threatened that they may be returning for the rightful claim to their land. One orphan interviewed in the Times piece shows just such scars.
Pastor and Chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary, Mike Milton, presents his thoughts on “How To Forgive Your Enemies and Friends” in a recent sermon available on preaching.com. In his sermon, Milton presents five scriptural truths we must know about forgiveness in order to forgive. These resonate well with the truths presented in As We Forgive. To read or listen to the full sermon, follow this link.
Here's an update from my friend and filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson:
Filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson and the AWF Team have just received a generous grant from the SEVEN Fund to produce a new short documentary in Rwanda on enterprise solutions to poverty. The film will focus on reconciling Rwandans who are involved in creative economic development projects which are transforming their communities from the inside out. Laura is also thrilled to be teaming up with celebrity portrait photographer Jeremy Cowart who will shoot a companion portrait series of reconciled Rwandans called “Voices of Reconciliation.” The film and photo series will be produced in Rwanda in late July 2011 and we are aiming for the project to roll out Fall 2011. Stay tuned for more!
I recently had the privilege of speaking at the eStoria Conference in Gorizia, Italy. The conference theme this year was on war and I was honored to be a part of a panel discussion on conflicts in East Africa. I was joined by experts Luciano Scalettari, Luca Jourdan, and Alberto Garlini and was extremely thankful for my able translator. I thought readers of the book might enjoy a few pictures of As We Forgive abroad. As you'll see the conference itself was an outdoor event. It reminded me a great deal of the way The National Book Fair unfolds on the mall in DC. Our session was packed. Someone told me the tent could hold 600 people. I wish that my Italian had been a little bit better to take in all the other great speakers.
Well, my husband and I, and our 14-month old son are off to Italy where I'll be speaking about forgiveness and reconciliation at a conference on war. The eStoria Conference will take place in Gorizia, Italy, site of much blood-shed during both World Wars. I'll be speaking with several other experts on a panel about conflicts in East Africa. I'm eager to share the message of hope that I've encountered first-hand through the stories I shared in As We Forgive.
Christianity Today recently asked me to write about my top five books on forgiveness. I had to give a lot of thought to this question because I've read so many books that have impacted my thinking on the subject. In the end, I decided on five that I thought each offered a little different insight into the subject. To find out the five books I chose, read the full article here.
BP news recently featured a piece on the annual time of mourning and remembrance in Rwanda. Each year during the 100 days that commemorate the genocide, and especially the first 10 of those 100, life in Rwanda comes to a grinding halt. Memorial services and remembrance services happen across the country, while survivors re-live the memories of those haunting April days. Some of those I interviewed in Rwanda told me that in some ways this time of mourning has become unhelpful to them. They will be about the business of moving on in their lives when suddenly the entire country is thrown back into its grief. I found their commentary interesting. Certainly, after a holocaust like what happened in Rwanda it is right and good to have a place for remembering, but at what point does this become more of a burden than a help to the victim and what should be done then? I’m not sure I know the answers to those questions, but it’s certainly an interesting topic to explore.
When it comes to the topic of sexual assault, there’s a shortage of trustworthy material on the market, especially from a Christian perspective. That’s one reason I was so encouraged to hear that Justin Holcomb, a pastor and founder of Mosaic has released a new title on the subject. It’s called Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault. I can’t think of someone whose experience could have more sensitively prepared him to deal with such a subject. I avidly followed Justin’s posts about his annual trips to minister and train pastors in Sudan. He and his wife Lindsey bring sensitivity and insight to a very difficult subject. Here’s what others are saying about the book.
Often when it comes to Christmas, our view of the meaning of it is about as small and chintzy as our miniature plastic nativity sets. But looking at the meaning of Christmas from a kingdom point of view enlarges not only our worldview, but also our hope. Christmas should give us a vision for a world where peace really does reign, for a world in which forgiveness and love have the final say, but where justice is also fully satisfied. That's because Christmas is about a kingdom reality, its about eternity breaking into time. In a very real sense it's D-Day. To read more, take a look at my recent piece with Chuck Colson in Christianity Today on the subject.
I recently endorsed a fantastic book by L. Gregory Jones and Celestin Musekura called Forgiving As We Have Been Forgiven. Musekura, the founder of ALARM, an organization dedicated to reconciliation efforts in the Great Lakes region of Africa has a unique and moving personal story to share. In my endorsement of the book, I wrote: "Forgiving As We've Been Forgiven is practical theology at its best. Jones and Musekura help us see why forgiveness is as important as our daily bread and how applying this fundamental discipline could transform not only the witness of the church in the world, but also the world itself." I encourage you to check out this great resource.