Forgiveness and Power

Forgiveness and Power

Forgiveness and Power, cover image.Ferch

In a fresh rendering of the role of leaders as healers, Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity considers love and power in the midst of personal, political, and social upheaval. Unexpected atrocity coexists alongside the darkest shadows of leadership.  As the pride of individuals and nations goes unchecked, people encounter a world in which not even the certainties of existence remain.  Yet grace and the quiet subtleties of mercy sometimes arise even under the most difficult circumstances. Ultimately, Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity is a book about the alienation and intimacy at war within us all. Shann speaks to categorical human transgressions in the hope that readers will be compelled to examine their own prejudices and engage the moral responsibility to evoke in their own personal life, work life, and larger national communities a more humane and life-giving coexistence. In addition to a primary focus on servant leadership, the book addresses three interwoven aspects of social accountability: 1) the nature of personal responsibility 2) the nature of privilege and the conscious and unconscious violence against humanity often harbored in a blindly privileged stance, and 3) the encounter with forgiveness and forgiveness-asking grounded in a personal and collective obligation to the well-being of humanity. Modernist and postmodernist notions of the will to meaning are considered against the philosophical notion of the will to power. The book examines the everyday existence of human values in a time when we inhabit a world filled as much with unwarranted cruelty as with the disarming nature of authentic and life-affirming love. The book asks the question: Can ultimate forgiveness change the heart of violence? In Forgiveness and Power, people are challenged not only by the work of profound thought leaders such as Mandela and Tutu, but also Simone Weil, Vaclav Havel, Emerson, Mary Oliver, Martin Luther King, Paulo Freire, bell hooks, and Robert Greenleaf. The hope of the book is that people of all ages and creeds come to a deeper understanding of personal and collective responsibility for leadership that helps heal the heart of the world.





Buy Now

indie's first logo




“Read this book if you are ready to live a new horizon.  It is unsettling and worthy of every precious moment to read – each page creates an asymmetrical balance of joy, tears, laughter, and resolve.  To end atrocity through love and forgiveness…  this book is a beam of hope for humankind.  I need to go now and reread it so I can try, and try again.  Thank you Shann Ray Ferch.”

—Mary McFarland, PhD

International Director, Jesuit Commons: Education at the Margins


“Dr. Shann Ray Ferch has written a remarkably comprehensive and convincing exploration of forgiveness as the ground of healing and service, and then applied it to the principles and activities of leadership in the contemporary world.  I enthusiastically recommend this volume to those who are not only interested in leadership studies, but also in the deepest dimensions and possibilities of love and the human condition.  It is a remarkable antidote to the cynicism underlying some of the new purely pragmatic (and frequently inhuman) leadership theories.”

—Robert J. Spitzer, PhD, President, Magis Center of Reason and Faith

President Emeritus, Gonzaga University

Author of Healing the Culture, and Proofs for the Existence of God


“Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity offers compelling pleas for forgiveness that matters, grand forgiveness, liberating forgiveness, forgiveness washing grace over both the forgiven and the forgiver, forgiveness springing from the heart of authentic, uncompromising servant leadership.  The greatest figures in history, both human and divine, led with forgiveness.  In this book, Shann Ray Ferch uncovers the beauty and grit of vulnerable leadership, forgiving leadership, servant leadership.  The power of leading with forgiveness offers high hope for our world’s atrocious history and terrifying future.  Dr. Ferch makes me want to be such a leader.  He makes me need to be such a leader.  He inspires me to follow such a leader.”

—Bill Robinson, PhD, President Emeritus, Whitworth University


“In Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity Shann Ray Ferch succeeds in creating one of the most beautiful, inspiring, and lyrical books that I have read on servant leadership, or any subject. The book offers the most penetrating view yet on servant leadership in relation to power, aggression, violence and forgiveness.  Shann gets to the heart and soul of what it means to embrace and practice servant leadership.  Dr. Ferch is one of the pioneers in the burgeoning field of forgiveness studies, and he is one of the deepest thinkers on servant leadership.  In this book, he uniquely combines his understanding of servant leadership and forgiveness into a kind of new synthesis of thought so that Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity represents the fully realized expression of what it means to live in an age of atrocities—large and small—and to see how servant leadership and forgiveness can help to heal the deep wounds that come from the uncaring use of power.  In these, the most cynical of times that our world has ever known, this book points the way toward a more hopeful and compassionate world—a world where misplaced power and aggression are countered by Martin Luther King’s unarmed truth and unconditional love—through the power of servant leadership.”

—Larry C. Spears, The Spears Center for Servant Leadership

President Emeritus, The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership

Author of Insights on Leadership and Focus on Leadership


“In a world where hurt and hate dominate the headlines, Shann Ray Ferch is a bold purveyor of peace and love, much in the tradition of Robert Greenleaf.  One cannot read this book without experiencing a reflective resolve to live with greater intentionality and purpose.”

—Andrew K. Benton, PhD

President, Pepperdine University


“To be a legitimate leader, one must first be a servant – a person seeking to heal, nurture, and give freedom to those they lead. To truly fulfill the calling of a servant leader, one must both ask and receive forgiveness.  Shann Ray Ferch lays out these ideas in wonderful depth and style. Forgiveness and Power doesn’t just deal in the theoretical. It is based in personal and real-world examples of both the power of human evil and the still greater power of forgiveness.  For those interested in becoming a more effective leader or those who want to learn how to live a meaningful life in a world of great suffering, this book is a must-read.”

—Brent Hendricks

Executive Director, Global Neighborhood


“I recently had the distinct pleasure of reading Shann Ray Ferch’s book, Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity and want to highly recommend it to all who are hard at work regarding leadership and its impact in the world. I am of the mind that this book, because of its grasp of the complexities in which we live, the scope and scale of the ideas it presents, and the sobriety through which it is written, will become a standard-bearer for those who seek to care for the world of the 21st century. I would further commend it to your attention for the following reasons:
* Shann’s writing has a wonderful choreography to it where you are able–almost seamlessly–to move from big ideas, to personal reflections, to keen insights, and then back again. It is rare to encounter a writer with his bandwidth.
* I deeply enjoyed, but was also challenged, by his courage to take on tough–very tough–issues. We live in a world where the simplistic often times seems to hold serve in the midst of very difficult questions with no easy answers. The result is that this approach produces its own kind of violence that I sometimes sense is even more destructive that the actual violence of the event. His writing lives with the tension and bears the fruit of it.
* Shann provides a multi-layered reflection on Robert Greenleaf’s seminal work, The Servant as Leader. In a very real sense Greenleaf is the central pivot of this work that allows Ferch to make a number of wonderful moves ranging from Emerson, to poetry, to basketball.
* Finally his writing–both its style and its content–has a kind of generative generosity to it where Ferch is free to acknowledge others. Having read so much that appears to simply be an advertisement for the author, what one encounters in Shann’s writing is something rather sublime: an unabashed willingness to acknowledge the gift of the other.
In summary, as you encounter Shann’s book you will be reminded of Rilke’s line in describing love where he wrote, “love is this: it protects, borders, and salutes”. “Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity” will be a great help to those who have been called to “protect, border, and salute” the people, systems, and world we are asked to serve.”

—David Hillis

President, Leadership Foundations of America