Reconciliation Books to Read (2013)
I try to listen to and learn from people both inside and outside of my so-called tribe. So just because a book is on this list doesn’t mean that I endorse or agree with everything that the author does, believes, writes, or says. I chose these books because they have sharpened my thinking around issues of reconciliation and unity…as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). Enjoy!
ON JUMP-STARTING THE CONVERSATION
If You Knew Me You Would Care edited by Zainab Salbi
This giant book sits atop my coffee table and never fails to grab people's attention. The mesmerizing photographs of oppressed women around the globe and equally mesmerizing stories that accompany them are a great reminder that 'humanity' is at the center of the fight for human rights. I've used it to draw people's attention to justice issues both abroad and in our own backyards.
Honorable Mention: But I Don't See You As Asian: Curating Conversations about Race by Bruce Reyes-Chow
ON CROSSING THE RACIAL DIVIDE IN ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS
This book is a must-read for the faculty and staff on the lily-white Christian college campuses across America. It's also a must-read for anyone who cares about how the mere lack of diversity in "mainstream" Christian America hurts people of color. Using both her solid research skills and gift for story-telling, higher education expert Julie Park shows us why issues of diversity should be a high priority for college educators.
Honorable Mention: Aliens in the Promised Land: Why Minority Leadership is Often Overlooked in Christian Churches and Institutions edited by Anthony Bradley
ON CROSSING THE RACIAL DIVIDE IN CHURCHES
Birmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Epic Challenge to the Church by Edward Gilbreath
It's been said that white people view progress in terms of "how far we have come" whereas people of color view progress in terms of "how far we still have to go." Edward Gilbreath's book highlights how, in some ways, churches have responded to MLK Jr's call for reconciliation and also how churches still desperately need to respond. He reminds us of MLK Jr.'s fiery, prophetic words -- even the ones that make some folks uncomfortable.
Christians and the Color Line: Race and Religion after Divided by Faith edited by J. Russell Hawkins and Phillip Luke Sinitiere
This is a really important book. Drawing together an interdisciplinary chorus of voices, Hawkins and Sinitiere provide a much-needed update to Emerson and Smith's Divided by Faith. I appreciate that Christians and the Color Line isn't just descriptive but also prescriptive -- it offers a sophisticated set of action steps that researchers and lay people can take as they continue to address the problem of race in the church.
Honorable Mention: Jesus for Revolutionaries: An Introduction to Race, Social Justice and Christianity by Robert Chao Romero
ON POWER AND PRIVILEGE
Misunderstanding Stories: Toward a Postcolonial Pastoral Theology by Melinda McGarrah Sharp
This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to listen and interact well across power differences.In Misunderstanding Stories, theologian Melinda McGarrah Sharp brings issues of power and privilege to the forefront of her discussion of pastoral ministry. Drawing from her own experiences as a privileged white American Peace Corps volunteer as well as her theological expertise, McGarrah Sharp shows pastors and other privileged/powerful people how to pastor in a way that is honoring and equitable.
Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power by Andy Crouch
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (the only novel on the list!)
ON DOING GOD'S WORK IN NEIGHBORHOODS:
7 Creative Models for Community Ministry by Joy Skjegstad
This book is so helpful! Joy is a long-time church leader, community organizer and organizational consultant. This book combines all of her diverse knowledge to help churches and organizations to stop wasting time on ineffective ministry, accurately assess the needs of their community, and choose the most effective ministry model to address those needs.
Making Neighborhoods Whole: A Handbook for Christian Community Development by John Perkins and Wayne "Coach" Gordon
Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World by Alexia Salvatierra and Peter Heltzel
ON BRIDGING THE DIVIDE BETWEEN MARRIEDS AND SINGLES:
The Misinterpreted Gospel of Singleness by Khristi Adams
The divide between married and singles in the church is painful and powerful like other cultural divides. And as the number of singles increases in the church, married pastors need to know how to effectively minister to this group. All pastors and church leaders should read this excellent book by Azusa Pacific University campus pastor Khristi Adams. The book is theologically sophisticated (Adams holds an M.Div from Princeton Theological Seminary), yet rooted in pastoral and personal experience. Way to go, Khristi!
ON HUMBLE INTERACTIONS ACROSS THEOLOGICAL LINES
Both-And by Rich Nathan and Insoo Kim
Cross-cultural relationships require both self-awareness and humility. In order to love diverse people well, we must recognize that our worldview is heavily influenced by our culture and that other cultures offer valuable and truthful perspectives. Nathan and Kim's book helps us to take a step back and recognize that certainty rooted in cultural worldview is not so certain.
Honorable Mention: Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking the Idol of Certainty by Greg Boyd
ON CARING FOR THE WORLD AND ENVIRONMENT:
Colonialism, Han, and the Transformative Spirit by Grace Ji-Sun Kim
Theologian Grace Ji-Sun Kim's books are always thoughtful and challenging and this one is no different. She begins by showing how our mistreatment of land and neighbor is rooted in sinful and inequitable power dynamics. Then she introduces the Korean concept of Han, a collective feeling of oppression and isolation, that most people in the world (e.g., the powerless) experience. Lastly and hopefully, she suggests that the transformative spirit - that is, the God-enabled power that humans can harness -- can bring about much needed reconciliation. This book is poetic, imaginative, intellectually-stimulating, prophetic and provocative. A true delight!
Are there any other books that have shaped your views on reconciliation and justice? Feel free to share them below.