Love is a Weapon that Destroys All Evil

November 07, 2011
By Catherine Larson

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.

Forgiveness and Reconciliation in Sierra Leone

October 28, 2011
By Catherine Larson

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.

Machine Gun Preacher: Vigilante Justice?

October 07, 2011
By Catherine Larson

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 We Forgive Premieres Nationwide Tomorrow on PBS

July 14, 2009
By Catherine Larson

If you have yet to have a chance to see, As We Forgive, the documentary film which inspired my book As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda tune in tomorrow to your local PBS channel. The film, by my friend and filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson, will air on Wednesday, July 15th coinciding with the last of the 100 days of remembrance, the day which the genocide was brought to an end.

If you have read the book, you will enjoy seeing several of the characters from the book in the film. Rosaria and Saveri, Chantale and John, Joy, Bishop John Rucyahana, Pastor Gahigi, and others. If you happen to see the film first, the book will give you a chance to explore these stories and several similar tales of forgiveness. You'll learn in detail about how these characters survived the genocide and go in depth with the circumstances surrounding their decisions to forgive. The book also provides reflections on issues at the heart of forgiveness and reconciliation as well as discussion questions to facilitate going deeper.

The film will be airing in 25 states in the weeks to come. Meanwhile, the film has been touring across Rwanda with very enthusiastic response. On July 4th, the film premiered at the Amahoro Stadium which holds approximately 3000 people, a few days before there was a special pre-screening for members of the Rwandan government at the Serena Hotel in Kigali. There are plans for the film to be screened in all Rwanda's 30 districts in schools, prisons, churches, and villages followed by a complete discussion.

In other news, if you have read my book, you'll be excited to learn that the characters Phanuel and Prisca, both survivors of the Nyange school shooting married each other last week. When I intertwined their stories in the book, I had no idea that their lives would be intertwined in marriage. Congratulations to them both! Look for pictures in the weeks to come.

Peace on Earth? Goodwill to Men?

December 09, 2008
By Catherine Larson

I recorded CNN's "Scream Bloody Murder," a recently released documentary on genocide by reporter, Christiane Amanpour, and watched it last night. Here's a look at the film.

The documentary isn't easy to watch--but it's important. It chronicles parts of our recent history that we'd just as soon choose not to remember. The barbarism that humans are capable of is something few of us want to be reminded of. And yet as columnist, Tom Shales, of The Washington Post, writes in his review of the documentary, "Some may find the program tough to take at holiday time, but in fact it seems especially powerful during a season in which 'peace on Earth' and 'good will toward men' are being extolled from street corners." Its hard to comprehend the two notions together: peace on earth and genocide. Is peace possible after genocide? Is peace possible in a world where people brutally kill children, rape women, and do the unthinkable?

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