Spirit in Conflict: Introduction

Interviews with people who work with conflict
about the spiritual foundations of their work.
A research process done by Michael Bischoff
Interviews: Emily Hughes | Abdul-Hakim As-Siddiq | George Lakey | Marcelle Martin
Introduction | Reflections on the Research Process


Come on in! Please come in and help me explore the following question:

How do people who work with conflict find and identify a spiritual foundation for their work? 

For this project, I have interviewed four people who work, in different ways, with conflict and peacemaking. I chose to interview these individuals because I believe they each connect with God as they work in ways I would like to learn from. I see these web pages as one part of ongoing dialogue about spirituality and conflict. I invite you to email me and join that discussion.

I asked each person I interviewed about metaphors that would describe their spiritual foundations for the work they do. The images you will see on these web pages are photo montages based on these metaphors and snapshots of each person.

In addition to personal spiritual foundations, I am also interested in how the organizations and communities we are a part of nurture and hinder our connection to that divine source. In these interviews, you will hear about personal disciplines as well as organizational practices that relate to their spiritual lives.

To read more about my reflections on the process of doing this project, click here. Please also jump into the interviews highlighted below.

Teasers from the Interviews:

Click on the links below to jump to fuller versions of these interviews. 

From an interview with George Lakey
I said, "When you go to a football match, what do you do?" And he said "Well I scream my bloody head off. That is why we all go really." I said, "That's it! That's what you need to do as a facilitator." [more]

I remember one guy I had known for a long time and we had a lot of mutual respect was so furious that I thought he was going to come over and punch me in the meeting. [more]

In fact it is a prayer that has never not been answered. 100 percent results. Here it is, at no extra charge. [more[

"If you can keep your head while all about you people are loosing there's, you don't understand the situation." [more]

Yeast has been a very powerful metaphor for me. It reassures me that even a small part can make a difference--that quickening, that fermenting, that tastiness offered by a small minority. As far as my actions are Spirit-led, that can make a difference in a much larger thing that doesn't seem to be acting in consistency with Spirit. [more]


From an interview with Marcelle Martin:
The parable of the sowing of the seeds is a metaphor for a lot of things I do. God just distributes seeds everywhere; on the rocky soil and the good soil. Being at our prayer vigil is just distributing the seeds everywhere--our prayer for peace, our witness for peace. You never know where they are going to grow. For me, the primary message is "Turn to God, there is a peaceful way. You don't have to have to resolve horrible conflicts with bombs. In fact, bombs are just going to make more violence." [more]

I was really moved one day, and the women who said it to me was moved when she said it to me, "you changed my thinking about white people." [more]

That experience I had in response to prayer was extraordinary. It was like experiencing heaven. [more]

One Christmas morning at 5:00, there was a knock on our door and this woman who lived several houses down the street said "My house is on fire and my telephone doesn't work." It turns out that what was happening was more than a fire. [more]


From an interview with Emily Hughes
One image for my spiritual foundation is of a coyote, a trickster. The reason I am thinking about that trickster image is because it is incredibly free, resourceful, and creative. It is the access point for drawing out that of God--that of creativity and goodness and life. [more]

For me, thinking about being a coyote in terms of oppression issues is part of me trying to figure out how I follow the example of Jesus, and that is a really spiritual quest. [more]

We are really shy about the Spirit-led direction of our organization. It seems like we only talk about it in our fund appeals! It is also scary to me because I worry about what other people would think about us who are outsiders. [more]

What I am realizing more and more is that there are stories I need to tell. It seems like that is the thing that is pulling me on the most. They take a little while to ripen. I'm a young'en! [more


From an interview with Abdul-Hakim As-Siddiq
What I am doing is opening doors for others to follow behind me. I sat in prison for twenty years, and I did a lot of things to better my life and straighten out my life. Other guys are using the same pattern I am using to get out the door too. [more]

I was like an eagle who selects his meal from the sky. Before incarceration, my heart was hard as a stone and twice as cold. [more]

As I was driving to work. I passed this guy on the street who was waving his arms at me, but I didn't recognize him. [more]

I am moving from where I was to another dimension, from prison to Mecca, from prison to a freedom of the mind. [more]


Spirit in Conflict
Interviews: Emily Hughes | Abdul-Hakim As-Siddiq | George Lakey | Marcelle Martin
Introduction | Reflections on the Research Process

Please let me know your reactions to this project or tell me about the spiritual foundations of your work: Michael Bischoff,