“Helping to Heal Our Nation”

RCT, in partnership with the STH Life-Long Learning Program, is launching the video series, “Helping to Heal Our Nation” this Summer (2022) as a resource for the STH community and beyond.

The series offers presentations and conversations among five visiting RCT researchers with diverse faiths and a shared commitment to peace-making and social justice.  The visiting researchers contributed to the RCT program from the Fall of 2019 and continued with monthly meetings until the Fall of 2021. This series was filmed during the Spring Semester of 2021 in response to the growing divisions in the US. The visiting researchers shared their work and elicited feedback from each other, engaging in mutual learning and defining critical questions that need to be addressed in the field of Religion and Conflict Transformation.

The issues discussed are wide and varied, including anti-racism, gender-based discrimination, transforming difficult conversations, strengthening ties across ideological differences, mysticism; activism, policy, law-making, and social movements; and practical methods of Conflict Transformation. We hope this video series will contribute to the ongoing conversation regarding the role of religion in addressing and contributing to healing growing divisions in the U.S. Discussions following each video will be facilitated by RCT staff Oscar Guana.  For more information about the summer program on “Responses to Brokenness,” which will feature this video series, please be on the lookout for updates from Lifelong Learning in the coming weeks. 

Watch the series introduction, below!

Series Introduction:

This introduction, provided by Ana María Rodríguez and Tom Porter, invite the viewer into the five-part series, “Helping to Heal Our Nation.” The series was recorded over Zoom during the Spring 2021 semester, and includes several visiting researchers. This series is part of the Tom Porter Program on Religion and Conflict Transformation (RCT) at Boston University’s School of Theology.


Video 1: Irene Monroe

This first presentation is by Reverend Irene Monroe, who is an African-American feminist lesbian theologian, and ordained minister, who as a public theologian is a syndicated religious columnist and a voice on various medias, including television and radio. Irene’s presentation is entitled, “Healing Our -Isms”, given shortly after the January 6, 2021 attack on our Capital, and on our democracy. She discusses her past work during the AIDS epidemic, and notes that several -isms had to be addressed, including racism, sexism, and heterosexism. She discusses the current issue of racial inequality and white privilege, and gives a few “deliverables,” ways of addressing these issues, including ways of listening to each other.


Video 2: Bob Stains

This presentation, called “Bridging and Bonding: Dialogue Tools for Challenging Conversations,” is by Bob Stains, who has spent the past twenty-seven years designing and teaching dialogue across deep divides to people from across the United States, and in twenty-five other countries. Bob discusses a self-perpetuating system of polarization in society. In order to engage with people in this divide, he elaborates the research that shows the power of sharing stories with each other, rather than just facts. He also examines the reasons why polarization happens, and offers suggestions for how people could create conversations, that lead to a dialogue where each person is seen, and feels heard, and where they can reciprocate. This presentation was given on February 3, 2021.


Video 3: Duncan Hollomon

This presentation, titled “Ways of Knowing, Ways of Healing,” is by Duncan Hollomon, a practicing Buddhist-Christian, who is a professional actor, singer, attorney, and teacher. For the past twenty-seven years, he has practiced as a psychotherapist, integrating spiritual practice and mindfulness. He discusses the divisiveness and mistrust that is witnessed in different spheres of life, such as the religious and political divisions. He outlines how these often come out of deep convictions. Using insights from the sciences, particularly neuroscience, he shows us how this knowledge can better help us better move toward dialogue and understanding one another. This presentation was given on March 30, 2021.


Video 4: Fatemeh Haghighatjoo

This presentation is by Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, a Muslim, who addresses this question from the perspective of her own work as a member of the Iranian Parliament. She was a Professor of Counseling in Iran before entering politics, and is a leading advocate for a civil, democratic society in Iran. Fatemeh discusses the important role of activism as well as Policy and Law Making in responding to social movements, and how these areas can all work together to create change, and heal. In particular, she discusses her involvement in student and women’s movements, representing those groups and their voices in the Iranian Parliament. She emphasizes that it is important to have dialogue at the individual, local, group, and national level. This is also the space for reconciliation between conflicting views. This presentation was given on April 27, 2021.


Video 5: David Jaffe

This presentation is by Rabbi David Jaffe, who is the founder and senior scholar with Kirva, The Inside Out Wisdom and Action Project, a national organization that fuses Jewish spiritual wisdom and practice with action for social change. David looks at two key issues, namely, racism and polarization, and the way that we live in different epistemological realities. He explores how we can better relate and connect with one another. How can we listen, engage, and learn from each other while also trying to create social change over issues we disagree on? By drawing on Jewish ethical and mystical traditions, he discusses how compassion, as well as different acts of care and solidarity can be used for healing. This presentation was given on May 11, 2021.