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Encountering the Other

Author(s): Jean Vanier

ISBN13: 9781853908675

ISBN10: 1853908673

Publisher: Veritas

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  • We are in a world where we all want peace, where we all love peace. But the question will always be Are we prepared to work for it? And to work for it can mean to put ones life in danger. It can mean to cross over barriers where one is not always understood or respected. Cross over the frontiers to meet the other, to encounter the other, to find the enthusiasm to listen to the other.

    In June 2004 Jean Vanier presented a three-day conference on Encountering "the Other" at the University of Ulster at Magee, Derry; the essays in this book are based on his inspiring talks at this conference. In his inimitable way, Jean Vanier encourages us to respect and celebrate difference, and shows us how ordinary people can - and do - transform the world and light the way to change.

  • Jean Vanier

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    A good many years ago I had the privilege of hearing Jean Vanier speak at a conference in Stillorgan, Dublin. He is one of those rare beings whose presence alone can stir the hearts of those who come near him. The reflections in this booklet are adapted from talks he gave at a recent conference in 2004 in the University of Ulster in Derry. Best known as the founder of l Arche, Vanier had dedicated his life to enabling people to grow. His is the Gospel message that each one of us has a gift to give, each one is precious, each one needs to be loved and to belong. That being so, he says, the fundamental principle of peace is a belief that each person is important. He quotes Jesus s dictum that when we give a feast or banquet of any kind we should invite first the poor and disabled. It takes only one further step to become friends with people who have been marginalised. God sent us Jesus and Jesus sends us the Spirit to change our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. It is in that context that this writer sees hope for places like Rwanda and Northern Ireland, where enemies must begin to listen to one and another. This is a very short paperback but one that, if meditated on, could have some powerful effects.

    - Books Ireland, October 2005

    At just thirteen years of age in the middle of World War II Jean Vanier, founder of L Arche the communities for people with learning disabilities joined the Royal Navy and crossed a perilous Atlantic ocean. In recounting this part of his life Jean Vanier recalls the trust which enabled his father to permit him to join up. This trust, he asserts was founded on the belief that each person however flawed has something important to give the world. This message influenced the young Jean in a way that deeply affected his thinking and the course of his life. In Encountering the Other he describes in seven short chapters a life of overcoming barriers through facing up to the many fears that dog our existence and embracing them. Written for the ear as much as the eye this small work manages to both touch and challenge the reader with its simple yet profound insight that peace can only come to those who are not controlled by fear.

    - Intercom magazine, July/August 2005

    Jean Vanier is well known not only as a writer, but also as the founder of L Arche, the faith based communities for people with learning disabilities. Most of us will already have some experience of what he has meant to many families. They have had a great impact all over the world, refocusing our eyes on people rather than problems. Vanier s work is rooted in his faith, in his experience and sense of "the other". In this little book he shares some of his insights. The seven short chapters are based on talks he gave to a conference in Derry. His constant theme is that "the message of Jesus is transformation. So the big question will always be, do we want to change. Do we want to open our hearts to the different?"

    - The Irish Catholic, 10 March 2005


Encountering the Other

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