Things That Make for Peace by Bishop Peter Price
Bishop Peter Price’s book, “The things that make for peace – a Christian peacemaker in a world of war” was launched on the same day as the Winter Olympics, marked by the unexpected coming together of North and South Korean teams after 40 years of war. It was a moving moment which illustrated precisely Bishop Price’s thesis that peace is reached not through set-piece high-level talks alone but through a thousand initiatives that make it possible for leaders to sign peace deals and for those deals to hold.
Price’s reference point is Jesus who, leaving the temple in Jerusalem, wept and said: “If you, even you, had only recognised on this day the things that make for peace.” The Bishop robustly argues that Christians must ask the difficult questions and take actions – large or small – to find peaceful solutions, from world leaders meeting opponents through to his wife simply lighting a candle in her window every day during the Gulf War.
Through short, lively personal stories, Price describes over forty years’ working in reconciliation and peacebuilding. Beginning with family connections on the fringes of the Irish conflict, he takes us through unpopular political decisions in the House of Lords to oppose nuclear weapons in the 1980s, to supporting brave Catholic priests on the frontline of Latin America’s ‘dirty wars’ to Britain’s involvement in Iraq. He shakes hands with Martin McGuiness after the Omagh bombing and has tea with Ian Paisley at Wells Cathedral, chats under a fig and vine tree with an Iraqi doctor and visits bombed-out Baghdad hospitals.
Always reflective, Price challenges us to look inside ourselves, quoting the Trappist monk Merton: “If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another”.
Peacebuilding, he argues, is a process not a panacea. And one that requires the tackling of injustice through structural change, for “wherever poverty is endemic, the mosquitoes of oppression, disease, abuse and violence swarm.”
It is only when we dare envisage a peaceful world that we can create one. Price’s book is an unflinching and inspiring call on all Christians to share that vision, and act. And oh my goodness, how badly does the world today need this book’s inspiration.
Reviewed by Harriet Lamb, CEO of International Alert