Fearless dialogues A new movement for justice

Gregory C. Ellison

Book - 2017

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2nd Floor 305.235/Ellison Withdrawn
Louisville, Kentucky : Westminster John Knox Press [2017]
Main Author
Gregory C. Ellison (author)
First edition
Physical Description
xiii, 170 pages ; 23 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • Fear+less dialogues introduced
  • Conversations with country dark: beyond the fear of the unknown
  • The welcome table of radical hospitality: beyond the fear of strangers
  • When pupils see: beyond the fear of plopping
  • Listening for the love below: beyond the fear of appearing ignorant
  • To die a good death: beyond the fear of oppressive systems.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Pastoral theologian Ellison (Cut Dead but Still Alive) presents an impressionistic guide to a technique he has developed to facilitate community conversation about difficult subjects. Fearless dialogue, he explains, is intended to bring together "unlikely partners" and lead to social change when conversation partners come to appreciate different perspectives. Although the book is not a strict how-to manual on the process (which is never fully described but relies on a series of exercises), Ellison riffs on practices such as radical hospitality and "living museum," a conversation-starting technique that relies on images. He analyzes the social fears that inhibit frank exchange, such as what he calls "plopping," or what happens when a person's contribution to a group conversation goes unacknowledged. Ellison writes in a thoroughly idiosyncratic way ("My nostrils deciphered the pungent gas from the blue orange flame"), and his sources, including Barbara Brown Taylor and D.W. Winnicott, are eclectic. The result is an intellectual quilt fabricated to brilliant effect. The book's real value arises from the unexpected connections Ellison teases out (for example, psychotherapist Carl Rogers helps the author explain the process of welcoming), although some of the jumps are hard to follow (the FunkJazz Café needs more explanation). While Ellison's prose is generally conversational, the book maintains a pastoral quality with its insistence on seeing and hearing the marginalized. Ellison is a theologian for our times and this book will inspire new connections in communities that choose to heed the lessons here. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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