10 Best Reconciliation Books to Read for 2014
I read so many great books in 2014! Here are the reconciliation-related ones that impacted me the most (in no particular order).
It should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: 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!
1. My Name is Child of God...Not "Those People": A First Person Look at Poverty by Julia Dinsmore (2007)
Better than just about any other author, Dinsmore articulates why anti-poverty work is central to the Gospel -- and she does it with personal stories that will warm, haunt and challenge your heart. An internationally known activist, spoken word artist and speaker, Julia also wrote a critically-acclaimed poem called "My name is Not 'Those People'" performed here by actor Danny Glover:
2. Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes by Mitri Raheb (2014)
Meeting theologian Mitri Raheb was the highlight of my recent trip to Palestine. Faith in the Face of Empire, his most recent book, is simply brilliant. In it, Raheb challenges readers to see the Bible and the conflict in Israel/Palestine through the eyes of the oppressed. And in doing so, he exposes Western bias, pride, silencing and dominance, and calls Western Christians to engage differently.
3. A Living Alternative: Anabaptist Christianity in a Post-Christendom World edited by A.O. Green and Joanna Harder (2014)
I was honored to write an endorsement for this book: "What a rich collaborative offering! A Living Alternative draws from diverse perspectives to sing a thoughtful and inspiring chorus on the ways in which peacemakers can follow Jesus' counter-cultural mission as we seek to understand, engage and transform our world. Including both theological foundations and strategic action steps, this book is an excellent resource for all who wish to interact with our complex, multicultural, and post-Christian world out of hope, rather than fear."
4. Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service by Chris Heuertz and Christine Pohl (2010)
I'm mad that I just discovered this excellent little book this year. But I'm glad I got to read it with my Intro to Reconciliation students because we had some great conversations about what it means to relate, minister and serve as privileged people. This book is practical, insightful and a great discussion centerpiece for small groups, churches and classes.
5. Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal by April Yamasaki (2013)
The longer I do reconciliation work, the more I realize that connecting with God is the most important part of the work. And who better to learn from than a woman of color pastor who is also deeply passionate about justice and peacemaking! April's book is literally a godsend. She introduces readers to a variety of spiritual practices that help reconciliation busy bees like me to slow our roll and connect with the Great Reconciler.
6. To Live in Peace: Biblical Faith and the Changing Inner Cityby Mark Gornik (2002)
This book has already earned a reputation for being a contemporary classic and I can understand why! Like Divided by Faith is a must-read for racial reconcilers, To Live in Peace is a must-read for inner city reconcilers. Gornik, a director at the City Seminary of New York, presents a thorough but accessible primer on how the inner city came to be, the call of the Church to do justice and community-building in the inner city, the practicals of peacemaking in the inner city, and a prophetic vision for what can be.
7. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt (2013)
This book literally took my breath away. If you liked Disunity in Christ, you will love this book. Haidt, also a social psychologist, is more philosophical (and frankly, smarter) than I am. But I take solace in the fact that I'm funnier than he is :)
8. Occupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude by Joerg Rieger and Kwok Pui-lan (2013)
I read this book in preparation for the Fuller D.Min class on reconciliation, power and privilege in the church that I'll teach this coming summer. Occupy Religion may have been written as a theological response to a movement that has since subsided, but the ideas it presents about power imbalances are just as relevant as ever. Rieger and Pui-lan present an enlightening theological critique of power, particularly of structural "invisible" power within the Church, as well as a prophetic theology of the multitude (e.g., of power equity).
9. Privilege: The Making of An Adolescent Elite at St. Paul's School by Shamus Rahman Khan (2011)
This book is a game-changer. Khan, a sociologist, spent a year doing field work at an elite New England prep school in order to examine the "new privilege," one that has more to do with how one relates to the world, than what one inherited at birth. This book is also deep. Khan describes the current "democratic inequality" in America, how privileged people explain away the singular success stories of the oppressed, and the new ethic of privilege that is more centered around work than leisure (and thus more challenging to identify).
10. Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength by Chanequa Walker-Barnes (2014)
Literally, for anyone who is a black woman or cares about black women. I loved this book so much that I wrote a post about it: Farewell, StrongBlackWoman
BOOKS TO BE PUBLISHED IN 2015 THAT I READ AND LOVED AND CAN'T WAIT FOR YOU TO READ (you can pre-order them now):
A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God's Design for Life Together by Scot McKnight (I love this book! It's the theological mac to my social psychological cheese.)
Our Global Families: Christians Embracing Common Identity in our Changing World by Todd Johnson and Cindy Wu
by Sandyha Jha
Looking for more books? Check out Reconciliation Books to Read (2013)!