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Tender to the World: Jean Vanier, L'Arche, and the United Church of Canada

Category: Book
By (author): Whitney-Brown, Carolyn
Subject:  HISTORY / Canada / Post-Confederation (1867-)
  HISTORY / General
  RELIGION / History
  SOCIAL SCIENCE / People with Disabilities
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press
Published: October 2019
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 288
Size: 9.00in x 6.00in x 0.80in
Our Price:
$ 29.95
Available to order

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*What is the secret that allows L'Arche to exist? I'll tell you: pleasure! explains Jean Vanier, founder of the international federation of L'Arche communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities share their lives. Vanier's spiritual vision and playful sense of humour shaped L'Arche, but the organization was also informed by its surprising history with the United Church of Canada. In Tender to the World Carolyn Whitney-Brown explores the connections between the two organizations through diverse critical insights from Julia Kristeva, Doreen Massey, and Mikhail Bakhtin, as well as Vanier's controversial articulation of the gift of weakness. Tracing the five-decade relationship between L'Arche and the United Church alongside evolving disability theories, Whitney-Brown examines both the fundamental importance of stories and the agency of people with intellectual disabilities. Inversion - a transformative overturning of expectations in social interactions - can be upsetting or exciting, challenging or inspiring, she argues. This book offers a fresh look at how L'Arche and the United Church have worked to break down walls of difference, illuminating how each tenders something unexpected to the other and to the world. At a time when many are seeking new visions for society, the long and complex relationship between Canada's largest Protestant denomination and L'Arche offers both encouragement and a deeper way to approach questions of living in diverse communities.
From The Publisher*How pleasure, inversion, and story characterize five decades of connections between the United Church of Canada, Jean Vanier, and L'Arche.
Review Quote*"At this critical time for the United Church of Canada, this book makes a stunning and incisive contribution to help the reader understand the need for destabilizing and then transforming a community of faith." The Very Reverend and Honourable Lois M. Wilson
Review Quote*"A remarkably fresh, tender, and challenging account of Vanier's life and work. Whitney-Brown's unique insight into Vanier's special mix of mission, humour, agency, and fragility is invaluable to our understanding of the spiritual revolution of L'Arche and of interreligious dialogue, disability studies, and new ideas of human community and culture." Richard Kearney, Boston College and author of Anatheism: Returning to God after God
Review Quote*"Tellingly bracketed by uproarious tales of funeral-home laughter and the pantomimed unwrapping of Lazarus?s toilet-paper grave clothes, Tender to the World gracefully and thoroughly unfolds the close, mutually respectful connection of more than fifty years between L?Arche and the now post-Christendom United Church. Enlightening epigrams on 'tender' (noun, verb, or adjective) illuminate each chapter. Eschewing theological jargon, Whitney-Brown weaves the words of Aristotle, General Council reports, medieval poet Rumi, New York Times columnist David Brooks, and moving personal stories together with literary, philosophical, and psychoanalytic criticism to make for a scintillating read. Shining through every page is the compelling 'Don't-call-me-a-saint' Jean Vanier, whose Jesus-centred life is hard for non-believers to explain away. This book lingers in the soul." Bruce McLeod, former moderator, United Church of Canada
Review Quote*"In a world marked by violence and exclusion, Whitney-Brown recalls the wonder and the transformative power of tenderness. Exploring the impact of L'Arche on the United Church, she allows us to consider the nature and intention of ecclesial communities and to be drawn into the mystery of a God who is transforming the world through the revelation of tender mercy ? this book might just change the way you see the world." John Swinton, University of Aberdeen and author of Becoming Friends of Time: Disability, Timefulness, and Gentle Discipleship
Review Quote*"This excellent book engages the heart of L'Arche and the United Church of Canada, and the result opens up rich ecumenical conversations about social change and creating just and loving communities in light of a Gospel vision. The many stories and first hand accounts are blended thoughtfully with astute analyses, yielding a compelling testimony to the tender and creative power of communion that emerges when people encounter and are present to each other for who they are, with and without disabilities. This reveals an interdependency that undoes false binary hierarchies between abled and disabled. What's more, as Whitney-Brown highlights, following Vanier, the "pleasure" in such encounters connects to something deeply human ? the celebrative joy of being welcomed and loved in mutual regard. Readers from both L'Arche in Canada and the United Church of Canada will gain much from taking up this book, a well-written and useful addition to the literature on theology and disability." Thomas E. Reynolds, University of Toronto and author of Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality
Biographical NoteCarolyn Whitney-Brown, a former member of L'Arche Daybreak, is a fellow at the University of Victoria's Centre for Studies in Religion and Society. She teaches in the department of religious studies at St. Jerome's University.