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Journal for Peace and Justice Studies

Volume 21, Issue 1, 2011

Laurie Brands Gagne
Pages 70-82

The Narrative Approach to Teaching Peace and Justice

The narrative approach to teaching Peace and Justice attempts to address the division between activists and church-goers that is often found on Catholic campuses. The former, who advocate for social change, tend to regard religious faith as self-serving, while the latter, who emphasize community service, tend to regard activism as “radical.” By studying the life-stories of individuals whose contributions to the struggle for justice reflect the unfolding of a spiritual journey, students come to see that religious faith can be integral to a life dedicated to social change. Barack Obama’s autobiography exemplifies the youth’s journey to self-acceptance which the theologian John Dunne identifies as the second of the four great tasks of an individual’s life. The stages of this journey involve breaking free of narcissism and what theologian Miroslav Volf calls “embracing” the other.