Real life stories

This thread describes real relationships and communities that follow the way of the healer. There is failure, and messy ambiguity, and hope.

We encourage you to submit a post telling us about a marriage, a family, a congregation, an organization, a community or an international situation you are aware of where the way of the healer is being attempted.

About the way of the healer

The root task of government is to meet our fears--to give us security, to keep social order, to deal with our enemies. We are testing a different way to meet those same needs, one not based
As a healer you gamble that even a terrible person has a trustworthy side, and you engage, betting that you can invoke that side. From Description: the healer at war.

We say a relationship or community is healthy when the people involved want a relationship even if they deeply disagree; they listen to each other, are respectful, voice their point of view, ask for what they want, gamble that the other is trustworthy, negotiate, don't avoid conflict, don't walk out, and don't use coercion. From Description: the healthy community.

A healer speaks to an enemy as if that enemy represented the very best that humanity can aspire to. From Description: the healer at war.

We negotiate. We live by asking. We ask, ask, and ask again. From Description: the healthy community.
on coercion (law) or violence (arms) or territory (state). We're provisionally calling it "relationship healing" or just healing.

A good mother wants a relationship with her grown children even if they have turned out very differently than she hoped. A healer wants and knows how to have a healthy relationship with people who are very different, even opponents.

The healer's strategy is to turn an enemy into a trustworthy opponent within a healthy relationship. They may remain adamantly divided, but they have a respectful relationship where their difference can be productive. This site reflects on ideas and experience in the tactics of healing.

Healing and coercion both carry risks. Arguably healing is riskier in the short term, while coercion is riskier in the long term--that's one of
Regardless of the way you follow—Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist, whatever—-if you want to join with those from other ways who believe we can profit from our differences to improve all our ways of healing the world, then we need your story and your texts, we need you to help us learn to live together even when we remain very different.
the things we want to test. Arguably both healing and coercion are called for, in different situations--that's one of the things we'd like to clarify.

This site is for those living in a conflict situation, great or small, who have lost faith in coercion and control, and are willing to take some risks gambling that their enemies potentially have a good side.


The Description of the way of the healer is written in terms of how humans should relate to each other, as a working document among different religious and secular traditions.


We encourage you to submit a post describing

a marriage, family, congregation, organization, community, movement or government where the way of the healer is being attempted,

the texts and stories of your particular tradition--secular or religious--to teach, expand or critique the way of the healer,

an application of the way of the healer to some current social problem.

John Fairfield founded, with much encouragement and critique by Larry Alderfer Fisher. Posts explaining where they are coming from are here.


A list of organizations that advocate and use the way of the healer.

Submit a post

Please help elaborate and critique the way of the healer by commenting on existing posts, or by submitting a post of your own.


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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Most Generous Orthodoxy

Larry Alderfer Fisher (Anabaptist Christian)

The question I face is this. Can I follow Jesus and obey his command to go and teach, without a conversion agenda?  My unorthodox answer to this question is a resounding “Yes.”  Then I am faced with a follow up question.  Can I refuse to proselytize and still be a Christian?  My answer to this second question is “I hope so.”
It is in this vein that I make the attempt to expand the boundaries of orthodoxy and define a most generous orthodoxy1, in the hopes that I can have my cake and eat it too.  I can follow Jesus without turning my back on my Anabaptist Christian roots.  I can adopt a post-colonial theology that redefines (as in defines again) the original message of Jesus.

I choose to address this question from the perspective that I am not a heretic.  You could say that I am a post-colonial Christian with an attitude.  Brian McLaren suggests in a blog entry that theologies that are preceded by a modifier, i.e. black, feminist, post colonial, etc., are somehow deemed to be not real, historic, Christian theologies.  He goes on:

But what if we tried to subvert this deception? What if we started calling standard, unmodified theology chauvinist theology, or white theology, or consumerist, or colonial, or Greco-Roman theology? The covert assumption behind the modifier post-colonial thus becomes overt, although it is generally more obliquely and politely stated than this:  Standard, normative, historic, so-called orthodox Christian theology has been a theology of empire, a theology of colonialism, a theology that powerful people used as a tool to achieve and defend land theft, exploitation, domination, superiority, and privilege.2
I claim the freedom then, to examine the question of following Jesus without being constrained by 1700 years of orthodoxy that was from the time of Constantine forward, molded by the creation of a militant state religion.  A new religion that repudiated the very doctrine that allowed for the inclusion of gentiles into what was essentially a Jewish revolution by turning around and excommunicating Jewish Christians for worshiping in the synagogue.3   I am free to ask the simple question, what was Jesus about?  What is The Great Commission4 asking me to do?

In Jesus’ own words, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”  Following The Way of the Healer is about working to build God’s Kingdom in the here and now.  It is about a community of believers working hand in hand to build each other up and to support each other.  It is about relationships with our family, our friends, and our co-workers as well as with our enemies.  It is about our relationship with “the least of these,” those on the fringe, the poor, the downtrodden, the homeless, prostitutes and tax collectors.  It is about turning the other cheek.  It is about obedience.

The Way of the Healer is about transformation, putting the community first and saying no to putting self at the top.  It is not about personal salvation or punching a ticket on the glory train and coercing others to hop on board.  Jesus did not come to start a new religion.  He came to heal the world and usher in the Kingdom of God.

So what about this Great Commission thing?  To answer this I return to the questions posed at the beginning.  Can I follow Jesus, refuse to proselytize and still be a Christian?  I have answered yes.  But a tougher question awaits.  Can others follow Jesus without being a Christian?  I posit that the answer is yes.  The Good News is open to Jew and Gentile, slave or free, male or female, Muslim or Hindu, gay or straight.  I can be a Christian and follow Jesus while I fellowship in community with others who follow The Way of the Healer but don’t use or even understand very well my Jesus language (Judeo-Christian-Anabaptist-American English-Post Modern).

I can be a Christian and follow The Way of the Healer.  And I can invite my Muslim brothers and sisters to follow this path without first renouncing their way of knowing God.  I can learn from their experience, from their language, what it means to them to love their neighbor, to renounce violence as an instrument of power, to promote God’s kingdom here on earth.  I can learn from them how they deal with legalism and religiosity and abuse of power within their tradition and maybe come to a better understanding of how to deal with such things in the Christian context.  I must listen as well as proclaim.

We are faced then with the task of developing inclusive languages that describe The Way of the Healer in terms that speak to peoples of all faiths and cultural traditions.  We will need their help to do this.  Only then can we offer the Good News in a way that builds God’s Kingdom and tears down the barriers that we use so well to set ourselves above and apart.

1 In A Generous Orthodoxy, Brian McLaren examines traditions across the spectrum of Christian beliefs and tries to find something useful in them all.  I find this helpful and borrow from his title in the hopes that we can agree to find something useful in other traditions outside of this spectrum, hence A Most Generous Orthodoxy.
4 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

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