On February 28th at 7pm ET (4pm PT), we hosted “RE-humanize this Lent” offering an hour of scripture, reflection, discussion, and prayer about how we can use the weeks of Lent to become “re-humanizers,” resisting the dangers of dehumanizing discourse to our fellow citizens, our country, and our souls.
Politically-motivated violence–whether against political processes, communities, or individuals perceived as enemies–has flared in recent years in the United States. Research shows that speech which dehumanizes or demonizes others is a precursor for committing or tolerating such violence.
As people of faith and followers of St. Francis who reached across divides to work for peace, what role can we play in countering political violence? How should we examine our own speech about those with whom we feel at odds? How should we respond when we hear dehumanizing speech from others?
Click below to watch the full presentation
Follow up Information
FAN will follow up with all registrants by email weekly throughout Lent with questions for reflection and opportunities to share thoughts and inspiration. We invite you to share your thoughts using this form. FAN will publish these entries periodically on this page of our website and share them with you.
There will be a listening session on Zoom to share reflections on our Lenten Re-Humanizing journeys shortly after Easter.
During the presentations, we benefited from the wisdom of several speakers, including Carolyn Townes, OFS (JPIC Animator for the Secular Franciscan Order), social psychologist and spiritual director Robert Ferrell (Contemplative Interbeing founder), and political violence researcher Rachel Kleinfeld (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace).
You’re welcome to tap into the resources from each speaker via the links below.
Pope Francis’ Peace Prayer presented by Fr. Mark Reamer, OFM of the Order of Friars Minor and a member of the FAN board of directors.
Scripture Reading #1
First reading from the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time from the book of Sirach chapter 27:4-7.
Read by FAN Director of Advocacy Sr. Maria Orlandini, OSF, a Sister of St. Francis of Philadelphia.
Scripture Reading #2
The Gospel from the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time from the book of Luke chapter 6:39-45.
Read by FAN Creation Care Advocate Sr. Louise Lears, a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati.
Reflection section from Carolyn Townes, OFS
Offered by Carolyn Townes, OFS a spiritual life and leadership coach who serves as National Animator for Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation for the Secular Franciscan Order.
Resources from Rachel Kleinfeld
Dr Rachel Kleinfeld is a senior fellow in the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- Nathan Kalmoe has written about the particular problem of aggressive personalities as this article from Politico shows.
- Research has shown that among non-aggressive personalities, dehumanizing language can still yield more willingness to tolerate violent policies. Here is a sample of that sort of study.
- This piece is on how disgust leads to different processing in the brain.
- This piece gets into the “why” this occurs – the pathway by which dehumanizing language allows moral separation.
Resources from Robert Ferrell
Rev Robert Ferrell is a psychologist, minister, and spiritual director. It was Robert’s ReHumanizing initiative at Contemplative Interbeing that inspired this event.
Upcoming Nonviolence Training: Nonviolence & Social Change: An Introduction for Everyone
For a deeper dive into the psychology behind dehumanizing speech and the spirituality of rehumanizing, please view these two recorded talks by Robert Ferrell (registration required)
reHUMANize talk 1: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/
reHUMANize talk 2: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/
Additional Resources mentioned:
David Livingstone Smith:
- Making Monsters: The Uncanny Power of Dehumanization (2021)
- On Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How to Resist It (2020)
- Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others (2012)
- Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone (2017)
- The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012)
Br Ryan Roberts is a novice in the Order of Lutheran Franciscans, a Justice team member with the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, and an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a member of the Washington DC Area Franciscan Justice Circle.