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
Being able to understand is not the same as justifying, or agreeing with, or supporting. It’s simply being able to get your head around why and how that person, in their context with their story and their pain and their experiences and their relationships and their wiring, might come to think and act as they do. In the end, this is all about empathy.
Pádraig helped open this up for me—the importance and insufficiency of names. At once, it does not matter what names we use—because no name can actually hold what it tries to name; and also, it matters entirely what names we use—because our words create and break worlds.
I think part of what this reveals is that we are all moving through life yearning to be true, authentic, and vulnerable with each other. We want desperately to show our true selves to each other. To have our pain and our pride, our vulnerability and our victories, seen and heard—even by total strangers. We have stories we don’t want to keep inside.
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