The Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger Institute –Book Review

A friend who belongs to another denomination loaned me this book.  Her church is encouraging reading it and having “book club discussions” around it, so I thought I would do a review.

I had mixed feelings as I read through this book.  The conclusions it comes to are certainly good:

  • Treat people as people, not objects
  • Get out of the box of justifying oneself by blaming others, feeling superior to others, or needing to look good to others all the time
  • Build strong relationships with those with whom we have conflicts
  • Teach and communicate, listen and learn
  • Remember you cannot change others until you change yourself
  • Take action to and do the things we feel drawn toward when we are thinking outside of our box of blaming, categorizing people, justifying ourselves, etc.

In following these behaviors, you will gain a heart of peace within yourself and will become peaceful toward others.

The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict by [The Arbinger Institute]

All worthwhile stuff, right?  However, the right conclusions are reached for all the wrong reasons.  According to this book, when we treat others badly, this is an act of self-betrayal — implying that we are basically good people at heart.  WRONG!  We are basically sinful, and I don’t think we can rely upon our inner feelings to tell us what is the right thing to do.  We need God’s word for that.  The book then goes on to say when we betray ourselves, our behavior becomes “crooked.”  Again WRONG!  The correct word would be sinful.  We then need to justify ourselves by blaming, demonizing, etc.. The correct way to fix our “crooked” thinking is instead to  get outside of the box we have made and see people as people, not objects.  WRONG!  We cannot justify ourselves by any psychological maneuver or corrected thinking on our own — we need a Savior.

Conclusion:  I would not use this book, certainly not at my church, because it does not have a saintly worldview (I talked about this in a prior post).  What do others think?  Does the conclusion take precedence over the premises and reasoning?  I’d like to hear some other opinions.  I want to listen and learn.

 

Live at Peace

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”  Romans 12:18

Michele’s last post highlighted how difficult it is to maintain peace, especially during these turbulent times.  People are angry and unwilling to see any virtue in those with whom they disagree.

My devotional reading a few days ago was taken from Psalm 34:

“Turn away from evil and do good;  seek peace and pursue it.”

Easier said than done, right?  People make us mad.  The folks we deal with every day in our workplace, family, even church can be irritating, insensitive, rude and more. They have political views we don’t understand.  They don’t do things the way we want them done.  They don’t seem to care how their actions and words affect us.  How do we deal with this?

Well, the only person I can really control is me.  If I want to get along with others, I have to make decisions that allow me to do this. I have to pursue peace.  My devotional, and some other readings from Romans and James have a few good suggestions I’d like to share.

  • Try to understand, through prayer, the motivation of others.  I have often found, after praying for someone there are things in their life that cause them to behave the way they do.  It may not make their behavior right, but it does help me accept it without anger.
  • Outdo one another in showing honor.(Romans 12:10)  Sometimes one person’s calm, respectful manner will create a change in the environment.
  • Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. (Romans 12:17)  Seeking revenge causes a bad situation to escalate.
  • Love one another with a brotherly affection (Romans 12:10).  When we love someone we are willing to make allowances for them.
  • Think before you speak (James 1:26)
  • (Most important) Always give others the benefit of the doubt.  How many relationships would be saved if we followed this simple rule?

I wish I could say I always follow my own advice.  Unfortunately like Michele and everyone else, sin is my default position.  I have my own particular buttons that when pushed result in a stubborn, angry, unforgiving response.  However, God doesn’t give me what I deserve.  He gives me grace;  that’s what I should extend to others.

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”  2 Corinthians 9:15

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