Ten years ago, David Pulsipher and Patrick Mason attended a conference at Claremont Graduate University in California where they first discussed the need for a comprehensive approach to Mormon theology and peace. The men have since endeavored to create a text for that very purpose. Their new book “Proclaim Peace: The Restoration’s Answer to an Age of Conflict” is set to release in Deseret Book and on Amazon on Monday, Oct. 4.
The book has been in the works since 2011. Pulsipher, a BYU-Idaho faculty member in the Department of History, Geography and Political Science, described the main challenge of the book writing process as scheduling and idea collaboration. Mason, the Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University, added some insight about the benefit of the 10-year process.
“Because it took so long, it actually meant that our ideas were able to mature, and we were able to talk about these ideas with a lot of people along the way giving different presentations…Through the kind of feedback that we got, through the development of our own thinking we actually think it’s a better book now than if we would have published it seven or eight years ago, so the time was worth it.” Mason said.
Pulsipher acknowledged this publication builds upon the essay works of others but takes on the extended medium of a book. “Proclaim Peace” was originally meant to be an academic text, but later evolved into a more inclusive text intended to appeal to Latter-day Saints and non-Latter-day Saints alike.
According to the book’s abstract on Amazon, “This book is an effort to lift up the Restoration’s distinctive principles that invite us to renounce violence and proclaim Christ’s good news of love and peace to a world that desperately needs it.”
Pulsipher and Mason have gathered much information about the topic of peace throughout the writing process from a variety of sources. Truth about peace can be found in many sects of faith around the world.
“We quote a lot of people within the book, peacebuilders who are not from our faith tradition who are Muslim and Jewish, different kinds of Christian,” Mason said. “We’ve learned from them and we hope that we can reciprocate because we believe that God has things to say to the world, so we wanted to share that from our distinctive perspective.”
From their findings, Pulsipher and Mason reason that conflict and contention are not the same. One of the main points of the book is that conflict is at the heart of creation. For example, the conflict between water and rock can create a beautiful canyon, whereas contention is an unconstructive or destructive approach to conflict filled with anger and pride.
Their hope is that understanding this distinction will give way to a better approach to conflict and a greater capacity to create peace on small and large scales. If nothing else, Pulsipher wishes for readers to leave the book with the following take away.
“If there’s one thing I’d like them to believe is that it’s not hopeless,” Pulsipher said. “There is the possibility to build peace now. We can begin building Zion which is the ultimate expression of peace in our theology.”