PERSONAL: Male. Education: St. Olaf College, graduate; Union Theological Seminary, M. Div.
CAREER: Clergy and Laity Concerned, national program coordinator of politics-of-food program, 1977-81; American Lutheran Church, director of "Hunger and Justice Project," 1982-84; James Mayer House of Studies, Managua, Nicaragua, codirector, two years; University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, assistant professor of justice and peace studies.
Hunger for Justice: The Politics of Food and Faith, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 1980.
Water More Precious Than Oil, Augsburg Publishing, 1982.
The Politics of Compassion, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 1986.
War against the Poor: Low-Intensity Conflict andChristian Faith, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 1989.
Brave New World Order: Must We Pledge Allegiance?, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 1992.
Families Valued: Parenting and Politics for the Good of All Children, Friendship Press (New York, NY), 1996.
School of Assassins: The Case for Closing the School of the Americas and for Fundamentally Changing U.S. Foreign Policy, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 1997, revised edition published as School of Assassins: Guns, Greed, and Globalization, 2001.
Harvest of Cain (novel), EPICA (Washington, DC), 2001.
Jesus against Christianity: Reclaiming the MissingJesus, Trinity Press International (Harrisburg, PA), 2001.
Is Religion Killing Us?: Violence in the Bible and theQu'ran, Trinity Press International (Harrisburg, PA), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer has written a number of books in which he examines American foreign policy from a liberal, pacifist Christian perspective. Much of his work focuses on Central America, where Nelson-Pallmeyer once served as codirector for a Nicaraguan school run by the Center for Global Education. He has also written Jesus against Christianity: Reclaiming the Missing Jesus and Is Religion Killing Us?: Violence in the Bible and the Qu'ran in which he argues that Christianity itself has been based on an incorrect interpretation of the teachings of Jesus. "The strength of Nelson-Pallmeyer's writing," according to Robert McAfee Brown in the National Catholic Reporter, "lies in his ability to combine moral passion with data, research and factual content."
In The Politics of Compassion Nelson-Pallmeyer concentrates on world hunger, the arms race, and American policy in Central America. He calls for those living in North America to develop a political perspective based on biblical faith that addresses the problems of the world's poor. "Affluent Christians must let their faith and their politics, their economic and patriotic convictions, be challenged and transformed by the poor," Nelson-Pallmeyer argues. Annette M. Fisher, reviewing the book for Bestsellers, concluded that "there is much to learn from this slim work." ThePolitics of Compassion, P. J. Bock noted in Choice, "is written with great passion and with an appeal to action."
Nelson-Pallmeyer's Jesus against Christianity argues that the historical Jesus and his teachings have been replaced by a violent version presented by mainstream Christianity. The image of God of the Old Testament, Nelson-Pallmeyer noted, "is that of a brutal, violent, and vengeful judge." The New Testament continues this image, he argued, by placing Jesus in "the tradition of apocalyptic expectation," as G. Richard Wheatcroft explained in a review for the Center for Progressive Christianity Web site. By discarding what he sees as the Bible's violence, Nelson-Pallmeyer uncovers what he maintains are the true teachings of the historical Jesus. "This book challenges many of the assumptions of traditional Christianity," Max A. Myers stated in Interpretation; "but it does so in the name of faithfulness to the life and message of Jesus of Nazareth." Nelson-Pallmeyer "is by turns prophetic and passionate, redundant and reckless," a critic for Publishers Weekly observed. "Anything but passive," Steven Schroeder concluded in Booklist, "Nelson-Pallmeyer's radical pacifism sends sparks flying in all directions."
In the 2003 work Is Religion Killing Us? Nelson-Pallmeyer extends the ideas he presented in Jesus against Christianity. In this study, he argues that the sacred texts of Christians, Jews, and Muslims are alike in their promotion of violence. What is needed to insure world peace, he argues, is a turn to a creed of nonviolence. Gary P. Gillum in the Library Journal claimed that Is Religion Killing Us? "is daring, paradigm changing, and/or heretical, depending upon your religious leanings." "While this book's perspective may be one-sided," a critic for Publishers Weekly admitted, "it is a side that needs to be heard."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Armed Forces and Society, winter, 1991, James A. Stegenga, review of War against the Poor: Low-Intensity Conflict and Christian Faith, p. 311.
Bestsellers, October, 1986, Annette M. Fisher, review of The Politics of Compassion, pp. 270-271.
Booklist, July, 2001, Steven Schroeder, review of Jesus against Christianity: Reclaiming the Missing Jesus, p. 1955; October 1, 2001, Ray Olson, review of Jesus against Christianity, p. 284; February 15, 2003, Ray Olson, review of Is Religion Killing Us?: Violence in the Bible and the Qu'ran, p. 1021.
Choice, October, 1986, P. J. Bock, review of ThePolitics of Compassion, pp. 325-326.
Christianity and Crisis, June 18, 1990, Robert McAfee Brown, review of War against the Poor, pp. 205-206.
Interpretation, July, 2002, Max A. Myers, review of Jesus against Christianity, p. 334.
Library Journal, March 15, 2003, Gary P. Gillum, review of Is Religion Killing Us?, p. 89.
Middle East Journal, winter, 1993, review of BraveNew World Order: Must We Pledge Allegiance?, p. 157.
Nation, November 10, 1997, Ruth Hunter, review of School of Assassins: The Case for Closing the School of the Americas and for Fundamentally Changing U.S. Foreign Policy, p. 30.
National Catholic Reporter, May 15, 1992, Robert McAfee Brown, review of Brave New World Order, p. 25; December 4, 1992, Tim McCarthy, "Mission Group Shaken Up over New World Disorder," p. 8; November 22, 1996, Robert McAfee Brown, review of Families Valued: Parenting and Politics for the Good of All Children, p. 17; December 12, 1997, Dawn Gibeau, "Simplicity, Not Spending, Delivers the Spiritual Goods," p. 35.
Other Side, July-August, 2003, review of Is ReligionKilling Us?.
Publishers Weekly, July 23, 2001, review of Jesus against Christianity, p. 74; February 10, 2003, review of Is Religion Killing Us?, p. 183.
Sojourners, January, 1997, Bob Hulteen, review of Families Valued, p. 65; March-April, 1998, Judy Coode, review of School of Assassins, p. 57; November-December, 2001, Renny Golden, review of Harvest of Cain, p. 54.
Western Journal of Black Studies, fall, 1999, A. C. Vara, review of School of Assassins, p. 208.
Center for Progressive Christianity Web site,http://www.tcpc.org/ (October 7, 2003), G. Richard Wheatcroft, review of Jesus against Christianity.*