What I Do
I am an author, educator, bridging-divides facilitator, trained mediator, and curator of storytelling. I hold a master's in conflict resolution and reconciliation from Trinity College Dublin's Belfast campus. I've traveled all over the world to places like Israel and Palestine, Northern Ireland, South Africa, and Rwanda, learning from peacebuilders and looking for stories that can help save us from our division.
Most of my work now falls at the intersection of narrative and peacebuilding, using storytelling as a tool for bringing unlikely people together, bridging divides, and transforming relationships.
Click the links below to learn more about the different aspects of what I do.
I love to write. I’ve authored a couple of books and contributed to some other projects. I’m drawn most to the stories that people rarely hear. Those are the ones that often help us most.
I speak and teach on topics like narrative and storytelling, reconciliation and forgiveness, conflict transformation and peacebuilding, Israeli-Palestine, incarceration, and more.
I facilitate workshops and retreats, primarily on themes of storytelling, peace and conflict, and theology. I also contract on various projects related peacebuilding, reconciliation, storytelling, and more.
Tenx9 Nashville is a Belfast-originated monthly community storytelling night where 9 people have up to ten minutes each to tell a real story from their lives, based on a theme. I’ve been running this in Nashville since September 2013.
I’m soon to be one of Narrative 4’s Master Practitioners. Narrative 4 is global network of authors, educators, students, and artists using the power of personal stories to build empathy and spark collaborative change.
In addition to speaking and teaching on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I also organize and co-lead political and religious tours to Israel and Palestine, taking pilgrims to the sites of ancient stories and introducing them to the people telling new stories.
Read my recent writing
While debriefing Narrative 4 circles I facilitate in and beyond Nashville, I often hear people say things like, “This experience reminds me of how much we all have in common. Most of the time, we’re all focused on all our differences, but we just need to remember that we are all more alike than we are different.”
This is a lovely sentiment, and one that may even be true. But it also might not be. While prioritizing the search for common ground has great use, it also runs the risk of assuming we must do this because difference is bad.
More than once during our month together, I heard Pádraig say, “We need to populate our language with plurals.” Singular language often impoverishes our understanding of issues and ideas.
Populating our language with plurals may help us remember that we are all multitudes. Even the person we think we totally understand—we don’t. Our simple, un-nuanced, stereotypical ways of speaking need always to be further complicated.
“We need more villains in our stories.” I hear Pádraig’s words as a challenge to listen to how we tell stories. More specifically, how we scapegoat in the way we tell stories.
Everything political is personal for someone. Politics, at its etymological root, has to do with how we organize our lives and affairs with the people we live among. And how we live among each other affects us all in personal ways.
Here's what folks are saying about my writing
“[Where the River Bends] is important … We cannot encounter these pages and remain unaffected. But what will happen to us if we listen to those we tend to ignore? This book is one way to find out. I encourage us all to listen.”Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, from the foreword
“We can theorize about what forgiveness really means, or we can talk and listen to those we have viewed as unforgivable. Where the River Bends … offers depth of insight and perspective that is rare yet essential if we are going to move to higher ground.”Michelle Alexander, bestselling author of The New Jim Crow
“…Where the River Bends is a book pregnant with the hope that comes through the power of forgiveness. Don’t just read this book… let it move you to become an agent of mercy in a merciless world.”Shane Claiborne, bestselling author of The Irresistible Revolution
Letters from “Apartheid Street” is “a valuable resource for all who are called to be peacemakers – which should mean all of us.”Brian D. McLaren, bestselling author of A Kind of Christianity
“Our field needs passionate, on-the-ground, first hand descriptions of the challenges of constructively engaging settings of deep and painful conflict. [Letters from “Apartheid Street”] provides just such a window.”John Paul Lederach, peacebuilder, author of The Moral Imagination
“Pay serious heed to Michael McRay.”David Dark, author of Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious
“Surprisingly invitational… [Letters from “Apartheid Street”] is a book worth reading and rereading. As a guide for activism, I hope these reflections will have a profoundly rippling effect.”Kathy Kelly, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee
“Most of us seem content to merely believe stereotypes we hear about prisoners from television, movies, etc. [Where the River Bends], however, shatters this view of the criminal offender.
Letters from “Apartheid Street” is “invaluable, necessary, and absolutely brilliant.”Englewood Review of Books
“What is hopeful about [Letters from “Apartheid Street”] is the humanity the author shows through his interaction with Jews and Palestinians. In a down to earth yet profound way, this book shows Jews a way out of the injustice of occupying another people.”Marc H. Ellis, author of Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation
Letters from “Apartheid Street” is “an important read for human rights workers who want to do this work with integrity, but more importantly, who want to learn how to be the change that they want to see in the world.”Tarek Abuata, Executive Director of Friends of Sabeel – North America