Telling the Stories of Jesus as a Strategy for Social Justice and Peacemaking in the Global Community.

May 31, 2015


A weekend workshop of the Network of Biblical Storytellers, International & The Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice

The purpose of this weekend workshop will be to explore the learning and telling of the stories of Jesus, the Messiah of peace, as a strategy for social justice and peacemaking in the global community of the 21st century. On the occasion of the publication of Tom Boomershine’s The Messiah of Peace, this workshop will lay the foundations for a new paradigm of biblical interpretation based on the rediscovery of the Bible as performance literature shared in community and in social action. Building on the work of Walter Wink, this workshop will seek to rediscover the power of religious communities that “engage the powers” through non-violent resistance to the myth of warfare and dominance as the way to peace. A theory underlying this workshop is that we need to build a new framework for biblical interpretation and the communication of the Gospel of peace in the communication culture of the digital age.

Conference begins at 4:00 p.m. Friday May 29th with Registration and Dinner, and ends after lunch on Sunday May 31st.

Featured Storyteller & Associates: Tom Boomershine of Go Tell

The weekend will begin with a biblical storytelling workshop on the story of Jesus’ “cleansing” of the Temple. We will learn and tell this story of Jesus’ climactic non-violent demonstration in defense of the Temple as a place of prayer for all the nations, Israel and her Gentile enemies. This story will be the entry into an in-depth exploration of Mark’s passion/resurrection narrative, the central story for the “peace” community of Israelites and Gentiles who followed Jesus as the Christ in the aftermath of the Judean-Roman war.

On Saturday, we will explore Mark’s passion-resurrection narrative in the emerging paradigm of biblical interpretation as performance literature. This new paradigm is based on the realization that the Bible in its original historical context was a series of compositions that were performed for audiences rather than a library of texts read by silent readers. In the current context, this new frame for biblical interpretation suggests that the foundation for the pursuit of social justice and peacemaking is the empowerment of each disciple as a teller of the stories of Israel, Jesus, and his disciples. Rather than primarily studying the Bible in silence as a source of referential information for the history of Israel and the historical Jesus and for biblical theology, we can study the Bible as a body of paradigmatic stories, prophecies and songs to be performed as embodied experiences of the original events. In the workshop we will learn and embody as much of Mark’s passion-resurrection narrative as possible. The telling of Mark’s passion narrative both in person and in video will be an integral dimension of this exploration.

A central focus of the workshop will be the identification of the difference performance makes in our experience and assessment of biblical compositions in general and Mark’s Gospel in particular. A dimension of that focus will be enabling each participant to become a first rate teller of biblical tales and of their personal stories of justice and peace. We will also identify, rehearse and tell the stories of loving and doing good for enemies in the biblical tradition and in our own experience. The combination of biblical and personal stories will be the subject for our communal storytelling celebration on Saturday evening.

On Sunday, the practical steps in the implementation of biblical storytelling and peacemaking in local churches will be outlined. In our church communities, these steps include formation and growth of Scripture by heart groups that tell the Scriptures by heart every Sunday in worship, storytelling preaching, the building of congregational social memory, and catechism as the formation of a memory bank of sacred stories. A pedagogical approach to the teaching of bible as performance literature in university and seminary contexts will also be outlined.

In our wider communities, the model of the composers of the Bible suggests that a process of listening to and integrating the sacred stories of our religious “others” into our tradition may be a step in the building of a peaceful global community. Specifically, we will practice telling and listening to the stories of Muhammad as a messenger of peace. A further step would be to form a “virtual” international community of digital sacred storytelling that can cross the boundaries of current conflicts. A dimension of the day’s work will be the formation of a program of research and action for the Center for the Bible and Social Justice. We will close with a storytelling worship celebration of the death of Jesus for his enemies and for martyrs who have died for their enemies.

This workshop is a new venture, and approach that has not been tried before. All persons who are interested in new research in the interaction between the Bible and movements for social justice and peace are invited to participate in this venture.

Tom Boomershine, Laura and Norman Gottwald


Friday, May 29th Afternoon Invitation: 4 P.M. with Tom Boomershine and Norman Gottwald


Friday Evening: Post-War Mark: Doing Good for Your Enemy (The Anointing in Bethany) 9:15 – 10:00 P.M. Presentation by Tom Boomershine CLBSJ/LTS-Studio


Saturday Morning: The Rhetoric of Implication (Peter’s Denial) 10:15 A.M. – 12:00 P.M. Presentation by Tom Boomershine CLBSJ/LTS-Studio


Saturday Afternoon: The Myth of Redemptive Violence and the Gospel of Redemptive Nonviolence (The Pilate Trial) 3:15 P.M. – 5:00 P.M. Presentation by Tom Boomershine CLBSJ/LTS-Studio


Saturday Evening: Storytelling – Techniques and Mental Processes 7:30 – 9:00 P.M.


Sunday Morning: Biblical Performance Criticism: A New Paradigm for Biblical Interpretation (The Resurrection Story) 10:15 – 11:00 A.M. Presentation by Tom Boomershine CLBSJ/LTS-Studio