Report on Faculty Fellowship Activity
Desmond Tutu Center for Peace, Reconciliation and Global Justice
On November 11-12, 2016, the DTC Inaugural Conference on “Sustaining Global Change – Healing and Liberation: A Platform to Inspire Change” featured among an array of global and local voices for peace, justice, and reconciliation, one of today’s leading peace activists in the world, Dr. Eugen Drewermann. For more than three decades, Drewermann has been at the forefront of developing a therapeutic theology of liberation in Europe that promotes sustained peace and global justice wedded to healing from internalized oppression so often inflicted through misuse of religion and theology. Eugen Drewermann has high regard for Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a model for the tireless struggle for peace and social justice because Tutu takes serious both the personal and social dimensions of healing and reconciliation.
I received the Tutu Fellowship for my efforts to bring attention in Europe to the Center and its mission by highlighting in the biography of Eugen Drewermann points of connections between Drewermann’s work and the legacy of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Originally, the plan was to finish the biography in the spring of 2015 in time for the celebration of Drewermann’s 75th birthday and to travel in the summer of 2015 to present the book to audiences in Europe. The writing of the biography proved to require substantially more time. As part of my research, I travelled to Germany in the summer of 2016 to meet with Drewermann and with attendees of an annual conference he led in Rothenfels. I brought attention to the DTC Biennial Conference during my travels as well as through announcements of the conference to the more than 6000 people from across the globe who follow Drewermann on social media.
After the DTC Biennial Conference, I shared Drewermann’s talk at the DTC Conference titled, “Money Can’t Buy Humanity: Resisting the Capitalist Destruction of The Human Family” on social media as well. Among his provocative talk Drewermann stated that “capitalism acts globally but does not take global responsibility.” I also organized a WISH TV interview on Nov. 12 about the DTC Conference featuring Drewermann in which he addressed questions about peace in the immediate aftermath of widespread protests following the US Presidential election. The video has been viewed to date over 3000 times worldwide.
In support of the educational mission of the Desmond Tutu Center and the DTC Conference, I provided extra credit opportunities in two classes I teach in the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, which I direct. Students reflected on conference sessions around the theme of how healing and liberation intersect in counseling as a socially transformative practice. With my encouragement, several students of the mental health counseling program have supported the mission of the Desmond Tutu Center through service learning opportunities.
My biography, Eugen Drewermann: Die Biografie, which will now be published in May 2017, highlights Drewermann’s keynote address at the DTC Conference and the similarity between his work and that of Archbishop Tutu. For instance, I write: “Similar to the way Nobel peace laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, whom Drewermann admires, fought peacefully against the system of apartheid in society and church and became spokespersons against oppression and for reconciliation, Drewermann became in Europe and beyond a spokesperson for those who peacefully speak out against psychological, spiritual, and social oppression and exploitation in the name of religion, politics, and economics. … In the spirit of Archbishop Tutu, the work of Drewermann and Boff claims that reconciliation can only succeed if truth is not swept under the carpet,” be it in religious or secular contexts.
I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to be a Tutu Fellow!
Indianapolis, IN, March 3, 2017