Monday, August 29, 2016

What John Stratton taught me about Peace



By Craig Hovey

John Stratton passed away at home on Sunday. I knew John to be a deeply generous soul with an enormous heart mostly in his work as a local leader in the cause of nonviolence. I’m honored to have succeeded him in leading an organization he founded, the Ashland Center for Nonviolence. While there will no doubt be a lot of tributes to John in the coming days, I wanted to reflect on what I learned from him about peace.

John didn’t just wish for peace. He was committed to making it happen locally and was flat-out mad at the fact that American society seems to resort to violence so quickly. At the same time, John didn’t think of himself as a pacifist, but as a skeptic. He was especially skeptical of either/or thinking that ruled out creative approaches to resolving conflict without violence. He could also be skeptical of religious people if he sensed rigidity. It occurs to me that my own brand of Christian pacifism might have struck him as somewhat rigid too. John was adept at looking for different, untried ways, which I observed in him on many occasions, but presumably on none so critical and sustained as his recent illness. (I hesitate to “use” John’s illness as an “illustration” for what are probably obvious reasons. Yet if dying well is really about living well, we should take notice of how others and ourselves do both.)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

What the Khan Exchange Reveals about America

By Craig Hovey

The recent exchange between the Democratic National Convention speakers, the Khans, and Donald Trump reveals a lot, not least about Trump’s insensitivity and lack of tact and political judgment.
Source: Slate.com
But I’m also interested in what it reveals about what really counts when it comes to demonstrating belonging, even unity, in America. The Khans, Muslim immigrants to the US, spoke at the DNC about their son’s sacrifice for his country in the US military—Humayun Khan was a US Army captain who was killed in Iraq in 2004. Trump’s very simplistic (not to mention dangerous and frankly un-American) suspicion of Muslims and immigrants is shown so strikingly by an equally simple demonstration of a single counter-example. It simply falls apart. Trump, who is notoriously anti-immigrant and anti-Islam, publicly mocked the family, drawing harsh criticisms from many veterans, including John McCain. We see in the DNC’s choice of the Khan family the strongest kind of example available for displaying the full inclusivity of American society: that fact that Muslims too will fight and die for America.

I believe that the Khans deserve deep admiration and respect. But I also wish that the lengths we apparently need to go to in America to communicate the full inclusion of Muslims and / or immigrants didn’t have to involve the death (sacrifice) of members of those groups.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Responding to Orlando

By Craig Hovey

We at the Ashland Center for Nonviolence join with so many others throughout the world in mourning the shooting in Orlando, the worst mass shooting in US history. There is just too much to mourn at once: the 49 lives lost, the 53 additional wounded, the terror felt especially by LGBT people, the inevitable backlash against Muslims in the US, the increasingly shrill tone of the debate about assault rifles, and the opportunistic political responses that jump on one or the other of these facets.

What is the meaning of nonviolence at times like this? I remain convinced that nonviolence is never just about ending violence; it is also a spirit that seeks justice through peaceful means. There are competing ideas about justice in our world, of course. After all, it appears that the gunman in Orlando was motivated by a version of “justice” understood as punishment and moral condemnation. But this separates justice and peace; we must hold them together. “There is no way to peace,” said A.J. Muste. “Peace is the way.”

I am aware that quoting Muste’s famous words risks sounding like a platitude, especially at a time like this.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Why Obama Won't Apologize for Hiroshima

By Craig Hovey

President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima is historic—he is the first sitting president to visit there—and he spoke movingly and philosophically about the desire for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to mark the “start of our own moral awakening.” But observers also noted that Japan should not expect an apology for America’s actions 71 years ago. Why not?

Hiroshima Peace Memorial - Wikipedia


According to Stanley Hauerwas, war is a sacrificial system which, like anthropologists have long noted about religion, sacralizes violence through ritual. Even when surrounded by the most rigorously secular discourse, war often takes on a quasi-religious significance for a society, especially in how it is remembered. It is very difficult for a society to admit that an entire war was wrong (Vietnam) or that particular acts within a war otherwise thought justified might be wrong (Hiroshima) because admitting this calls into question all of the sacrifices that that society asked of its people when it waged those wars in the first place.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ACN receives Outstanding Award for MLK Day 2015

The Ashland Center for Nonviolence was recently honored at the Ashland University Service and Leadership Awards ceremony for our 2015 Martin Luther King Day event featuring civil rights legend C. T. Vivian.



For Martin Luther King Day 2015, the Ashland Center for Nonviolence bridged the AU campus and the wider community through an event featuring the civil rights legend, C.T. Vivian. At 91 years old, Dr. Vivian addressed a crowd of 650 attendees in Upper Convo, discussing his personal friendship with Martin Luther King, as well as his impressive involvement in pioneering activities for desegregation and civil rights such as the famous 1965 march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Faith & Ferguson: Coming soon to Ashland


The Ashland Center for Nonviolence is joining with the Ashland University's Religion Department to host musician and activist Michelle Higgins on April 20-21. She will have a full schedule preaching, teaching and conducting workshops with Ashland students. A number of the events are free and open to the public:


Wednesday, April 20

12:00-1:30
Workshop: Nonviolent de-escalation in the midst of crisis,  Eagle’s Landing, Hawkins-Conard Student Center
7:00-8:30
“Last” Lecture: Your Faith for Justice, Ridenour Room, College of Business
Thursday, April 21

10:50-12:05
Conversation: The New Civil Rights Movement After Ferguson, Ronk Lecture Theater, College of Education
8:00-9:30
Sermon: Praying with your Feet, The Well, Miller Chapel


"It is exciting for us to have Michelle Higgins coming to campus," said Peter Slade, chair of the Religion Department. "Here at Ashland University we are always trying to make connections between our faith and the communities we live in and serve. Michelle will bring her wealth of experience and wisdom and help us understand the responsibilities and opportunities we have as Christians to engage with these issues of justice and race." Michelle will be speaking in Dr. Slade's class Religion and the Civil Rights Movement. "It is important for us to realize that the movement didn't stop with the passage of the Civil Rights Act or the assassination of Dr. King," Slade said. "This is a living history that calls people of faith to action today."

The Director of Worship and Outreach at South City Church  in the Shaw neighborhood of south St. Louis, Michelle is actively engaged in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. She has participated in civil disobedience, leadership development, logistics and administrative support in both sacred and secular spaces.

Michelle is the Director of Faith for Justice, a Christian advocacy group founded in 2014 dedicated to continuing the biblical story of activism. Faith for Justice promotes and leads public justice actions and events that connect faith communities to the movements that seek to dignify and humanize Black lives.

Though working primarily as a local organizer, Michelle’s work is challenging the wider church. She rose to national prominence with her plenary speech at Urbana 2015, the annual InterVarsity Student Missions Conference. The New York Times commented “in her wide-ranging comments about social justice, Ms. Higgins did little to make her speech more palatable.” The Washington Post concurred,Michelle Higgins has been making waves.” The Evangelical publication Christianity Today described her historic speech as "powerful and prophetic testimony.”

Michelle holds an M.Div from Covenant Theological Seminary in Saint Louis and lives in North City with her husband Sean Loftin, and their two children - Moses and Matilda

InterVarsity made this short video introduction to Michelle and her work:

The Possibility of Peace

By Emily Wirtz

I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting with Miki, who was a guest in my American Literature IV class with Dr. Jayne Waterman, for what I thought would be a brief, perhaps 30-minute discussion over dinner. What happened was a two-hour discussion (getting us scolded out of Convo) about our own experiences of culture. We talked about television and the perception of anime and movies, politics and the voting process—in the light of the upcoming election—the perceptions of violence and control, history, and the perception of foreigners, among a plethora of other topics.

It’s incredible, and I think very important, to be able to see and understand how vastly different we all are. Miki also works as an intern for International Student Services on campus, and it was equally intriguing to get her own insights. She expressed that while she is aware of her own uniqueness as an international student, there is also an incredible amount of diversity our national resident students may not even realize. As a full-time international student (as opposed to partaking in a semester- or year-long exchange program), Miki is able to develop lasting relationships with the students she helps, even with a clear language and cultural barrier.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Joe Ehrmann - Coming soon to Ashland!

Nonviolence is always a team effort. At the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, we're constantly looking for ways to join forces with friends working in areas that matter. We're especially excited to team up with the Ashland County Community Foundation Women's Fund and the Ashland University Gridiron Club in order to bring Joe Ehrmann to town this March to talk about sports, masculinity, and violence against women.

Joe Ehrmann is a former NFL defensive lineman who is now an educator, author, activist, minister and motivational speaker. He was an All-American football player at Syracuse University, was selected to the Syracuse All-Century Football Team and went on to play professional football for 13 years. He was named the Baltimore Colts “Man of the Year” and was the NFL’s first Ed Block Courage Award winner. Parade Magazine featured him on its cover, naming him “The Most Important Coach in America” because of his work to transform the culture of sports. In addition, he was selected as one of the “Most Influential Sport Educators in America” by the Institute for International Sport and was awarded the Frederick Douglas National Man of the Year for empowering youth to prevent rape and other forms of male violence.

We are delighted to have Joe speaking on two occasions. Join us for both!
  • Friday, March 18 @ 7:00 pm in the Alumni Room, Myers Convocation Center [This event is free and open to the public.]
  • Saturday, March 19, Keynote address for the Sports and Violence Conference [This event is for conference attendees. Click here to register for the conference.]