Category Archives: Understanding Violence

Peacemaking Insight #1 – Dave Frenchak

At the last meeting of the National Planning Committee we had the chance to talk individually with a few of the wonderful minds gathered around that table.  While these videos offer just a slice of the wisdom and experience being leveled at these meetings towards moving us away from a culture of violence through peacemaking, they pack quite a punch.

Dave Frenchak speaks in this video about the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry and the tools and equipping that the gathering will provide to those whose ministries will actively create peace.

Dave Frenchak - Peacemaking Insight I

Dave Frenchak - Peacemaking Insight I

“My best hope is that this event is going to be a disruptive event.  That we will be able, through this event, to disrupt the routines in the culture that cause violence… That we will be able to disrupt the roles that different people play in this culture of violence… the roles that we ourselves play, unwittingly, that promotes a culture of violence… And that we will be able to disrupt the rules, both spoken and unspoken, known and unknown, that all of us obey which actually feed the culture of violence.

So that we can begin thinking out of a different framework: not a culture of violence but a culture of making peace.”


The Art of Peace

Speaking of Faith has a recent podcast up on their website under the title: The Art of Peace.

Speaking of Faith the Art of Peace

John Paul Lederach describes what really happens when people transcend violence while living in it, and so find the moral imagination to live beyond it. Also, stories you’ve never heard in the news — from Colombia, Nepal, Tajikistan, Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland, and Burma.

Access the program at the Speaking of Faith website.


Congress Podcast

Episode two of the SCUPE Congress podcast is up for your listening pleasure!

SCUPE Congress Podcast – Jim Perkinson – Art & Faith in a Culture of Violence

We’re extremely excited about this audio exploration as it is as specific as it is far-reaching.  Listen in as we grab the intellectual coat-tails of poet-theologian Jim Perkinson and hang on for dear life.  Ah, the places we’ll go!  The result is a illuminating romp through the often unmapped, but intricately woven, terrain of art and faith… of culture and religion… of spirituality and materiality.

Jim Perkinson

Art & Faith in a Culture of Violence.

In this episode we celebrate the potency of art in a culture of violence and the peacemaking possibilities of faith as we talk with poet-theologian and author of White Theology: Outing Supremacy in Modernity, Jim Perkinson.  We hear spoken word poetry from Jim and a number of other contemporary luminaries including Saul Williams, Billy Collins, and Quincy Troupe.

You can visit the SCUPE podcast library for descriptions and downloadable audio of past podcasts.

Next month we’ll hear from SCUPE President and founding director Dave Frenchak on imagination, prophetic preaching, and the role of hope in theology and the life of the community.


McDonald vs. Chicago – Supreme Court Decision pt. 1

The Chicago pseudo-newspaper/tabloid RedEye released graphics mapping Chicago’s 2010 homicides in today’s issue.  The statistics are disheartening enough when put in terms of numbers, 217 homicides in 6 months, but when you see it on a map it’s downright overwhelming.  You can visit RedEye’s interactive homicide map and even though the view is by month I will link, eventually, with the map for all of 2010 so far.

RedEye Homicide Map 2010 Through June

This perspective revealing the scope and embeddedness of violence in Chicago comes little more over a week after the United States Supreme Court ruling that effectively makes Chicago’s 28 year-old ban on handguns null and void.  While the city has countered by enacting various restrictions to help counter the rulings potentially disastrous outcome for Chicago an unavoidable feeling that there is less and less citizens and local governments can do in the face of this relentless American gun culture.

We can look to the proliferation of Conceal & Carry as evidence that guns are becoming more and more “available” around our nation:

“All but two states have legalized at least some form of concealed carry,
with most allowing any citizen who qualifies
(no felony criminal record, meets a certain age requirement,
and can qualify with a firearm) can get a permit.”
– conceal carry.org

Those who are not quick to believe that “more guns means more safety” are being backed up against a wall where the  foolishly simple solution of more guns is increasingly becoming gospel truth.  I use that word gospel quite seriously.  The brilliant Gary Laderman article “Hate the Sinner, Love the Gun” proposes that America’s love of their guns is more than even culture… it is religion… and “the gun is the religious object par excellence”.  While the article will probably provoke some readers by its boldness it does do the essential task of translating a stale, vapid, dumbed-down debate into a deep and rich new terrain.

This is the intention of the upcoming 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry, to engage with the violence in our culture in a multi-faceted, multi-leveled manner that doesn’t ignore the complexity of social realities.  We not only believe that the problems we face are complex but that the gospel of Jesus can challenge, heal, and redeem these complexities.  Even as we await with Eschatological hope the coming reign of the Prince of Peace we strive to reawaken and re-emphasis the peacemaking that is inherent in the Way of Jesus in every good day given to us.

Daley at the '68 Democratic National Convention

One good piece that has helped give depth and breadth to my wrestling with issues of handgun-control is the two WBEZ produced shorts on the history/evolution of Chicago’s handgun ban.  As well as being incredibly informative, the presentation is remarkably even-handed.  Wherever you stand on issues of handgun-control I am sure you will appreciate the complexity they engage because,  as I recently overheard at lunch in a busy restaurant, “Wherever there is a large complex problem there is a short simple solution… that is wrong”.

Oh, and seriously, read that Laderman article!


National Guard in Chicago?

In the month since SCUPE announced the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry, violence in the form of homicide has increased in Chicago (home to the upcoming Congress).  A little over a week ago Chicago saw 7 deaths and 18 wounded in one night – predominantly by gunfire.  Outbreaks of violence have raised the profile of the issue across the nation, especially in light of two Illinois State Representatives (John Fritchey and LaShawn Ford) making a public plea for Governor Pat Quinn to call in the National Guard to cap the violence.  The proposed solution, which isn’t expected to gain much traction with average citizens or government officials, reveals an inability to engage the epidemic of urban violence on anything but a surface level.

As SCUPE continues planning and organizing for March 1 – 4 of next year, we are mindful of the vital potential of this gathering.  The theme for the 2011 Congress will be “Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence” and it will seek to address the violence flaring up in our society from a Christian perspective.  We believe that the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry will be one of the most important in the 30 plus year history of the Congress, for rarely has the focus of a Congress aligned so drastically with a pertinent and urgent need in our society.

We cannot effectively respond to the violence in our homes and in our streets if we do not respond to the violence in our culture.  By engaging with both the tragic instances of violence and the interconnected systems that promote and sustain this violence, we will expand our vision for action and the effectiveness of our response as Christians.

As Christians we believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ speaks directly to the violence in our lives and in our culture, and that this gathering can be serve both as a refocusing and a re-dedication towards this pressing, radical, and beautiful gospel message.

“So far this year there have been 113 murders reported homicides, according to Chicago police statistics.  During that same period New York has had 139 murders and Los Angeles recorded 199, although both cities have larger populations.  The number of casualties Chicago has so far this year is only slightly higher than last year at this time, 109, and less than the 134 for the first four months of 2008.”[1]


[1] http://abcnews.go.com/US/illinois-lawmakers-request-national-guard-stop-crime/story?id=10478710