Book Review: Peace Talks
Written by David Drum and Reviewed by Craig Hutchison
John 17 is the basis for this enlightening and instructive book from Pastor David Drum. It explores the intersection between Jesus’ priorities and passions and our country’s current political catastrophe.
The book is intended for people who have an affinity for Jesus, those who if asked how they feel about Jesus their answer would be on the positive side of the spectrum.
Part 1 of the book lays out the background of the Donkey Elephant War. What are the influences of psychology, technology, media and foreign actors on our politics? How does our Western worldview contribute to our severe partisanship? What about our issues of identity and how can Jesus’ prayer in John 17 help us overcome the current challenges as a country?
Part 2 of the book first looks at several hot button issues important to each of the political parties and applies a fresh approach to them with the goal of making it possible to discuss and evaluate them objectively with each other and perhaps achieve some common ground that would support us focusing together on and solving those problems recognized by both sides.
If one were to ask Jesus, “Are you Republican or Democrat?” he would answer “Neither one. I am the commander of the Lord’s army, a Kingdom that is far above the Donkey/Elephant situation in which you are stuck.”
Drum points out that “if you deify the Donkey or the Elephant, you’re not aligned with the Kingdom.” He points out that rather than identify ourselves as belonging to the party of the Elephant or the Donkey, we can be members of the party of the Lamb. We can be unified without being uniform where political engagement is the goal and political identity is the fumble.
With his prayer priorities, Jesus prayed for his followers to penetrate the walls of division, bitterness, exclusion and contempt to become voices of peace.
Drum discusses his suggestion that Jesus’ prayer actually is a kind of GPS: glorify the son, protect ourselves from the enemy and sanctify ourselves in the truth.
In any political discussion, ask “what would glorify Jesus right now?” Ask if this idea will actually divide us, and ask whether or not we are approaching an idea or concept from a mature and grown-up perspective and attitude. Ask “will you help me understand” and then listen carefully with both heart and head. Drum recommends not giving a knee jerk reaction in a conversation. Knee jerk reactions are evidence of “echo chambers” - which are not our friends if we want peace to talk. The voice we want to engage with is the voice of peace, not conflict or condemnation.
Drum concludes with how together; Donkeys and Elephants might forge a hopeful path forward for the country simultaneously:
1. Make friends. An enemy is one whose story we have not heard personally.
2. Humble yourself. While humility is a permeable filter that absorbs life experience and converts it into knowledge and wisdom, arrogance is a rubber shield off which life experience simply bounces.
3. Accept anger but exercise self-control. People can vehemently disagree and yet hold respectful and mutually edifying conversations.
4. Build a bigger tribe. We need to start seeing our tribe as the human race not Donkeys and Elephants.
Drum says that Donkey and Elephant Christians need to lead the way in civil, positive, honoring, solution-based conversations. Jesus’ prayer, the one recorded in John 17, points us in the best direction for the country to have a prayer of ending its ever-more damaging Donkey Elephant War.
Give Peace Talks a chance and read this book. You won’t regret it.
Check out Peace Talks, and many other books, from the Covenant Library!