reaching-for-the-stars


Book:  The Seven Challenges Workbook — Communication Skills for Success at Home & Work

Manuscript in preparation (about 3/4 completed): A Change of Heart ~ An Interfaith Guide to Conscientious Objection (2MB PDF file)

An interfaith workbook and reader for a year-long course exploring the process of becoming a conscientious objector to participation in, and support of, organized killing.  (Comments and suggestions welcome.

Book: The Geometry of Dialogue: A Visual Way of Understanding Interpersonal Communication and Human Development  

Drawings and book (200 pages).  This page linked by the title above contains links to mandala-like flow charts in PDF format, and to my 210-page exploratory study.  This material was a major part of my graduate work toward an M.A. degree in interpersonal communication and human development, which I received in 1997 from the Vermont College Graduate Program.  The study is the theoretical foundation of the Seven Challenges Workbook, (complete with more footnotes than anyone would ever want to read).  It is my effort to work out the communication training implications of current thinking in the field of human development, using visual models as organizing tools.

Article: Infinity Hidden in a Speck explores the idea of as-yet unrealized resources and abilities hidden in our trillions of cells and their quadrillions of connections.

Article: EcoBodhisattva Meditations and Creative Questions

Article: Companions in the Storm, Companions-in-Blessing explores twelve of the deeper dimensions of spiritual friendship, in the context of our need to work together to protect the web of life from runaway industrialization. Ecology and biology show us how all life is woven together. But many of us work on the great ecology, peace and justice issues of our time as isolated individuals. The Companions In Blessing community is a decentralized network that seeks to encourage the deepening of active, friend-to-friend (mutual support) relationships, rather than the development of passive, follower-to-authority-figure relationships.

Article: The Ecology of Ecology Movements is an evolving blueprint for building a sustainable ecological advocacy and action groups, based on my experiences and struggles campaigning against nuclear weapons for thirty years. I hope this blueprint will help people everywhere build enduring organizations and communities that celebrate and protect the web of life. I am using this blueprint to support the unfolding of the EcoBodhi community.

Book: Prayer Evolving — Five Personal Explorations into the Future of Prayer (1995)  — by Dennis Rivers  (click for PDF book available free of charge)

Essay: What Kind of Person Am I Becoming?  What Kind of People Are We Becoming Together?

Reflections on interpersonal communication and the journey of becoming a person.

Essay: Reflections on the Struggle to Be Honest Honest conversations viewed as counseling and counseling viewed as conversations that allow for honesty

Essay: The Love of Children May Hold the Salvation of the World
> Reflections on Israel, Palestine and America

This essay explores one possible value or principle that could make a stronger claim on people than revenge and nationalism.  I am especially concerned about this because personal and national revenge seem to make so much sense, yet lead their followers into a spiral of escalating injury from which there appears to be no exit.  I propose that focusing on the love of children could provide a face-saving way for all sides to back away from the brink of mutual destruction.  It would not be easy or automatic, but it would be worlds better than what is going on now.  

Translations: PORTUGUESE ROMANIAN

Essay:   Hope from Ashes: Why Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki? (first appeared as the preface to Toby Lurie’s 1998 book-length poem, Hiroshima, a Symphonic Elegy for Spoken Voices.

[Excerpt] The aspect of World War II that I find most disturbing is that, as concerns the methods of war, I cannot resist the conclusion that Hitler won World War II. The war was portrayed at the time as a conflict over high principles. And in the end one of Hitler’s most important principles prevailed: the mass murder of civilians in order to achieve military and/or political goals. Early in the war Hitler began gassing, incinerating or otherwise killing large numbers of civilians. By the end of the war American and British air forces were fully engaged in the mass murder of civilians through the fire-bombing of entire cities in Germany and Japan. That this fire-bombing campaign began partly as righteous revenge for Hitler’s air raids against British cities only demonstrates how quickly the opposing participants in war can come to resemble one another. 

Essay collection: A Renunciation of Nuclear Weapons, One Citizen at a Time.  Documents in support of United States citizens’ personal renunciation of nuclear weapons use on their behalf.

Compiled and edited by Dennis Rivers with the cooperation of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the Peacemaker Community. Revised March 30, 2002

Essay: Cause and Effect: An American Reflects on 9/11 September 11, 2004 article in the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper

[Excerpt] To sum up, the United States, for all its many virtues of dynamism and creativity, also happens to be a massive producer and exporter of both the culture and the instruments of violence.  It now seems to me that the Buddhist monk was right.  Every effect does have its cause.  It was only a matter of time, in a world made small by airplanes, before the violence we have exported would return to us.

  Poem:   I found my father’s little tape recorder today Web Sites: Web Site: New Conversations (www.newconversations.net)

Cooperative communication skills in working, partnering & parenting Books, essays, teaching materials and The 7 Challenges Workbook. (DR, principal author and site designer)

Web Site: www.SupportGenevaConventions.info

explores the pressing need to reaffirm and extend the Geneva Conventions, a series of treaties governing the conduct of war, the treatment of prisoners of war, and the protection of civilians and wounded soldiers. (DR, principal author and site designer)

Web Site: No Nukes (www.nonukes.org)

Online library of essays & articles exploring the dangers of, and alternatives to, nuclear power/weapons. (DR, guest author and site designer)

Web Site: Turn Toward Life (www.TurnTowardLife.org)

Explores reverence for life as a spiritual path.  Includes free library of essays and articles offering different visions of “deep ecology.” (DR, guest author and site designer)

Web Site: Karuna Books (www.KarunaBooks.net)

E-books and essays exploring the life of creativity and compassion.  (DR, guest author and site designer)

Web Site: Liberation Theology Resources (www.LiberationTheology.org)

Liberation theology in Latin America has inspired forms of liberation theology around the world, as well as liberation psychology and liberation ecology.  To be true to its incarnational theme, “Thy will be done on Earth, as it is in heaven,” liberation theologies must vary from place to place, since the goal of liberation theology is to help people become spiritually present to, and fully engaged with, the moral and transformational challenges of their specific places and times.  So, as this site develops I hope to include many contemporary movements and individuals around the world who are embodying a spirituality of courageous compassion.    (DR, guest author and site designer)

Web Site: Human Development Books (www.HuDevBooks.com)

This is a small publishing company I started which weaves together the roles of writer, editor, publisher, bookseller and open source librarian.  I take special interest in bringing back into print books that I believe are especially worthy of attention, books that for one reason or another have gone out of print with their original publishers.  Such is the case with the two books written by the German psychoanalyst Arno Gruen which have been translated into English:   The Insanity of Normality and The Betrayal of the Self.


Dennis Rivers, MA, is a semi-nomadic writer/teacher/peace activist/systems analyst who is currently living Santa Barbara, California. For many years he taught communication skills in association with the Santa Barbara Community Counseling Center. He is currently at work on a book exploring how gratitude and reverence for life can weave together as a spiritual path. 

Dennis is a longtime student of the eco-philosopher Joanna Macy. He edits and writes for several large peace and ecology web sites (including EarthCitizens.net, Companions-in-Blessing.org, LiberationTheology.org and NewConversations.net.   

He received his MA in interpersonal communication and human development from the Vermont College Graduate Program, after studying sociology and religious studies at UC Santa Barbara, and theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.   

His books and articles include The Geometry of Dialogue, The Seven Challenges Workbook, Prayer Evolving: Five Personal Explorations into the Future of Prayer, and, most recently, “Companions in the Storm, Companions in Blessing: The role of friendship in mending the world.”

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