Perhaps you saw on facebook or twitter that I took our books on the road (again) -- this time out to Geneva College in Western PA for a conference on multi-ethnic ministry. Geneva College, founded before the civil war by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, was a stop on the underground railroad; their denomination was one of the few which forbade members to hold slaves during that awful era of American history.
Still, a century and a half later,
like most Christian colleges, they struggle to develop a diverse student body
and racially sensitive campus culture.
That they hold this annual conference with full support of the administration,
student affairs, their Master's Program in Higher Education, their Center for
Faith & Practice, indicates that they are working hard at this. Most CCCU schools are, too, and there
were speakers from campuses such as Trinity Christian in Illinois and Messiah College near us here; there were
speakers from a multi-racial church in Grand Rapids and some great leaders from
Western Pennsylvania. Kudos to Kathy Kinzer Downs and Lamont Downs who are on
staff at Geneva and developed this conference with their colleagues and student
leaders. And a big shout-out to
CCO whose presence was felt as well. It was a joy to be with them.
I know some who read this Hearts & Minds bookstore blog and order from us are, in fact, employed in higher education. You know that diversity is a big theme on college campuses. We stock books on various sorts of reforms in higher ed, and we had some at this event.
I also suppose, though, that most BookNotes readers are situated in ordinary churches.
Do you ever wonder why most churches seem to have less passion
for racial integration and multi-ethnic ministry than do many para-church
organizations? I wonder why books on this topic don't sell much, either here in the
shop or when we take them on the road to various events and gatherings? I know there are churches that are eager
to be welcoming and inclusive and colorful, who want to reflect the diversity
of ethnicities and races that grace God's world (not to mention their own
neighborhoods.) Maybe they think they can intuit their way forward, or don't
need to read about it, for training or inspiration.
This is important stuff, though, and it only getting more urgent. We all know the statistics and demographics about the increasing racial diversity in the US and the continued erosion of white hegemony.
The times, as they say, are changin' and I thought that even our readers in fairly ordinary small town churches - as well as those in sophisticated urban nonprofits, big organizations and large congregations - might like to know the books we promoted at the Living in Color event. We had plenty of tables, double-layered shelves, and tons of titles on offer.
I will describa just a few of what we displayed for that gathering.
To purchase any, just use our linke (below) to the website order form page. If you want to use a credit card it is secure; or give us a call if you'd like. Tell us you saw 'em here and we'll give you the BookNotes discount. (We have the regular prices shown, but will deduct a 20% discount for you.) If you can think of anyone who is, or should be, passionate about this topic, or any leaders in your church or denomination, we'd love it if you'd share this. We have hundreds of other similar titles - some less complex, some considerably more, some that are historic (keeping the story of the civil rights movement alive) and some that are rather philosophical and some that are quite practical.
We'd be delighted to serve you further in your efforts to be agents of
reconciliation and leaders of multi-ethnic ministry.
A FEW GENERAL TITLES WHICH I PROMOTED AT LIVING IN COLOR
The Prodigal: A Ragamuffin Story Brennan Manning (Zonderan) $15.99 Students know the late Episcopalian priest's Ragamuffin Gospel and many have formed small groups reading Abba's Child; the first is about how God loves us know matter how screwed up we are and the second is about how knowing this - that we are the beloved of God - allows us to be ourselves, to stop playing the imposter, to be in authentic community. So it seemed good to highlight from up front the novel that Brennan was working on when he died. One speaker challenged us to be willing to fail in our efforts to be more multi-cultural and there is hardly a book out there about such an epic fail than this story of a pastor who falls and is yet invited Home in a modern retelling of the famous Prodigal Son story.
Love Does: Discovering a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World Bob Goff (Nelson) $15.99 Again, this book isn't about racism or diversity but students know Bob from Jubilee, they know he has done remarkable work for social change and global justice and they know he is as fun as anybody - what a zany storyteller, reminding us that, well, the call to love has to be embodied in real actions. Love does, get it? I just had to push it, and was glad I did. You really ought to read it if you haven't. Amazing!
Luminous: Living the Presence And Power of Jesus T. David Beck (IVP/formatio) $16.00 This is one of my new favorite books on spiritual formation, and seemed to be a very useful book to hold up as an example of a resource that can equip us to be the kind of person who can "let our light shine" in a very hurting world. I am confident that many will be challenged, equipped, and blessed by this remarkably interesting book. Lynn Baab says that this book itself is luminous; the Biblical scholar William Abraham (Perkins School of Theology) says it is "written with charm and simplicity" even as Mark Scandrette it is a "dangerously bright possibility.." This is about practicing the presence of God in a Kingdom-centered, missional manner. Some of the earth-shaking insights of this, by the way, came out of his mission trips to Haiti.
Breaking Old Rhythms: Answering the Call of a Creative God Amena Brown (IVP) $15.00 We love this vibrant spoken word artist, a hip-hop author with a great message for anyone who needs to move faith out of the ordinary and really learn to trust and grow, moving out of safe, boring patterns of religiosity and learn to be used by God in missional efforts, infused with great joy. I shared this not only because the author is a strong black evangelical woman, but because this book - about trusting God and stepping in lively ways into new patterns of outreach - is exactly what all of us need to be reminded of at times like this. It seemed like a no-brainer to promote and I'm glad to remind you of it here, now.
Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power Andy Crouch (IVP) $25.00 I hope you read my long review of this and I hope you realize why this title would be essential to promote at an event of this nature. The opening address said the conference wanted to raise up "barrier bustin' leaders" and if we are going to overcome obstacles and reform institutions, we have to take up the question of power. Anyone in leadership, or anybody doing leadership development and anyone wanting to wield influence with Christ-like humility should grapple with this once-in-a-lifetime kind of book. I highlighted it up from the first night, and re-announced it during my second up-front book plug. It is that important.
Christ in Conflict: Lessons from Jesus and His Controversies John Stott (IVP) $16.00 This new, updated edition of this very old John Stott classic was just re-issued, and I couldn't be happier. I had it at this conference to embolden those who may be resistant to conflict or who aren't sure that we ought to press to hard towards serious claims about justice and inclusion. Yes, this reminds us that Jesus rocked the boat, caused some discomfort, and thereby points us to ways to be truthful, bold, even as we strive to be guided by grace. This is classic Stott, reasonable, creative, impeccably Biblical, and rooted in the core distinctives of historic Biblical faith.
Misreading the Bible With Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understanding The Bible E. Randolph Richards & Brandon J. O'Brien (IVP) This is a perfect book to transition from book about spiritual formation and Christian discipleship - the basis for multi-ethnic mission in the church or in organizations - because reading the Bible well is a foundational Christian essential. And this book not only helps us all learn to understand the Bible better - by exposing misreadings and assumptions we bring ("reading into" the text, we used to say) - but it does this by showing how many of the most common misreadings come from our Western assumptions. I have reviewed this book previously and insisted it is nothing short of brilliant. It is interesting, well-written, offering some important insights and some new material even for those of use who have pondered this very matter. You will learn stuff about culture and ethnicity and race and privilege and you will learn about the Bible in its own historic social context. Highly recommended.
BOOKS ON RACE, DIVERSITY, and CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE
Living in Color: Embracing God's Passion for Ethnic Diversity Randy Woodley (IVP) $18.00 Get this great book to anyone wanting a reliable foundation about God's great desire for celebrating multi-ethnic community. It is one of the best, written by a dynamic Native leader. The first section includes chapters on "Understanding Diversity" and the second section explains "Opposition to Diversity" and the final unit has chapters on "Restoration through Diversity." There is a great study guide, too. It is well worth having, upbeat, culturally aware and spiritually alive. Fantastic!
Gracism: The Art of Inclusion (IVP) $15.00 The play on words is brilliant, the chapters are truly insightful, and the experiences learned in the crucible of creating an intentionally multi-ethnic church are stimulating and helpful. Basic, clear, positive, and nicely rooted in the core truths of the gospel. Here's how they describe it: "Building on the apostle Paul's exhortations in 1 Corinthians 12 to honor the weaker member, Anderson presents a biblical model for showing special grace to others on the basis of ethnicity, class or other social distinction. He offers seven sayings of the gracist with practical examples for building bridges and including others. A Christian alternative to secular models of affirmative action or colorblindness, gracism is an opportunity to extend God's grace to people of all backgrounds." How can we see gracism undo racism? Read this book and you'll know how it can happen in your own place.
Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart Christena Cleveland (IVP) $16.00 I promoted this from up front, reading from the back cover, since it just came and I had only skimmed it quickly. It is without a doubt on my list, as it claims to be an "eye opening book" which explores hidden reasons behind the many sorts of divisions in our local churches. The author is a trained social psychologist, a woman of color and an award-winning researchers. (And that smile on the cover of her beautiful picture on the back draws me right in. With a grin like that, she can surely handle hard and complex stiff with joy and a light touch.) She not only studies racial divisions, but explores class and gender, why little differences sometimes become big sources of painful conflict, and why "categorizing others is often automatic and helpful but can also have sinister side effects." She looks at "groupthink" and choices of language which can significantly affect unity. The book offers tools we need to understand how to overcome the hidden forces that divide us. Also, I'm impressed with the theological diversity of those chosen for blurbs on the back. Not every day does one sees Thabiti Anyabwile, Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Greg Boyd and somebody from McCormick Theological Seminary sharing in their rave reviews. Here is a good interview with her from Vineyard USA that is well worth reading.
The Skin You Live In: Building Friendship Across Cultural Lines David Ireland (NavPress) $14.99 This book is fun for a number of reasons, one of which is that the author works with professional sports teams helping them learn to develop health inter-racial friendship. (One of the endorsements on the back is from NFL quarterback Kurt Warner.) Dr. Ireleand is senior pastor of a six-thousand member multi-racial congregation in North Jersey (he has completed post-doctoral work at U of Pennsylvania, which is quite prestigious.) This clear, helpful book is a gold-mine of basic, practical guidance helping anyone who wants to be more comfortable when reaching across racial and cultural lines or who is leading a multi-cultural team. Leave it to Len Sweet to say it best, when he calls it "a primer on cross-cultural relationships that deserves to be heard, heeded, and honored as the primary toccata and fugue of friendship music. You are holding in your hands a genesis gift of stunning originality, creativity and genius."
Cultural Intelligence: Improving Your CQ to Engage Our Multicultural World David Livermore (Baker) $22.99 We recommend this often, and had a big stack at the conference - it is ideal for beginners who want tons of great information on how to be more aware and effective in diverse cultural settings. Livermore has written professional books for business executives who travel to other cultures, he has done good books on cultural awareness for youth going on mission trips (Serving with Eyes Wide Open) and this, good for youth workers, campus ministers, or anyone wanting to form the attitudes of those they teach or lead. The rave reviews of this continue to come in, and we are happy to promote it as a must-have resource for effective ministry.
Leading a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church: Seven Common
Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Mark KeYmaz and Harry Li (Zondervan) $18.9 You may have heard of Mosaic Church; these authors have
affiliations with spin-off sister congregations (and Erwin McManus has a nice
blurb on the back.) Matt Carter of the important Austine Stone Community Church
in Austin Texas writes that "Mark DeYmaz, perhaps more than any pastor in
America, has his finger on the pulse of what it will take for the church to
find reconciliation in our generation."
I don't know how he would know that, but the sentiment speaks volumes:
these guys have a huge heart for this and more importantly, have offered
hard-won insight about how to do it.
One of the speakers at "Living in Color" said this is the resource he
found most helpful in doing this work in his own congregation. This is an up-close-and-personal look
at seven common challenges. You
face these. This book will help. This was previously published as Ethnic Blends.
The Hidden Wound Wendell Berry (Counterpoint) $15.95 There are a few remarkable localists at Geneva who teach out of the agrarian vision of Mr. Berry and they were glad to see that I had this book on the display table. And why wouldn't we? Some have said this is one of Berry's best, just so amazingly written, so well-crafted and glorious, with provocative and profound insights about race and land and place and progress and hope. Granted, the poet Hayden Carruth is a like-minded soul, but listen well to his comment in The Village Voice: "Berry has produced one of the most humane, honest, liberating works of our time. It is a beautiful book. More than that, it has become at one stroke an essential book. Every American who can read at all should read it." Novelist Larry McMurtry writes in the Washington Post that "the statement it makes is intricate and beautiful, sad but strong."
Some Of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America Tanner Colby (Penguin) $16.00 I pushed this from up front in part because Beth and I so enjoyed it and because it is so well written -- part memoir, part social history -- and because it seems so very wise. It is clear about the failures of the grand liberal projects of the last 40 years. With great journalistic verve, this fun book exposes the structural/systemic issues or racism, a story too many of us still don't quite get, even as he looks at the unintended consequences of the policies designed to alleviate institutional racism. (He tells of the injustices and complex scenarios in Southern urban education, in real estate and housing in the Mid-West, and in professions of Madison Avenue in New York City.) I have reviewed this a time or two previously and remain convinced that you should get it; it is a great read!
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness Michelle Alexander (The New Press) $19.95 There is a reason is is considered "an instant classic" (Cornel West) and "devastating" by Forbes Magazine and "stunning" by Pultizer-Prize winning historian David Levering Lewis. To have the sinful inequities of how people of color are treated by police and in sentencing (in contrast to white people picked up and then indicted for the exact same crime) so documented makes this one of the most alarming books I have ever read. I assume you have heard of it.
Aliens in the Promised Land: Why Minority Leadership Is
Overlooked in White Christian Churches and Institutions edited by Dr. Anthony
B. Bradley (P&R) $16.00 This is a very important book and one some of us -
many who read this blog, I'd think - need to read. As John Frame says, "This is a terrific book...a game changer...If
you are tired of the usual arguments about race, as I am, this book will take
you up with some new ideas." Old
Testament scholar Tremper Longman writes that it "prophetically addresses the
issues connected to evangelicalism and minorities. Everyone, particularly church leaders, need to read this
book." Although I think it should
be read widely, it is situated among conservative, mostly (but not exclusively)
Reformed thinkers, and chapters are by a variety of multi-ethnic pastors,
church planters, denominational executives, seminary profs and others. Here are Amos Young, Harold Dean
Trulear, Vincent Bacote, Orlando Rivera, Carl Ellis, and other strong men with
much to say. The book is dedicated to New City Fellowship in Chattanooga, which I first learned about from old friend, singer James Ward. Nice!
Birmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr's Epic Challenge to the Church Edward Gilbreath (IVP) $16.00 We had a bunch of books on the civil rights era (perhaps you saw my previous list from last summer) and we were glad that Geneva offers a civil rights tour that visits historic sites in the deep south, so there are those there who have learned about that storied part of our history. I am sad when there isn't much interest in the writings of King that have come to mean so much to me, but we continue to promote them. Here is a brand new book that I have not even glanced at yet, but it will be a joy to read, soon. Gilbreath wrote an important and good work called Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical's Inside View of White Christianity (and is an editor at large for Christianity Today.) So we know he is a splendid journalist and good, serious writer. Not enough is known about the back story and historical situation that gave rise to Martin Luther King's famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and this may be the best book yet on this remarkable, and now iconic event. I trust what Curtiss Paul DeYoung writes, who says, "Edward Gilbreath has provided us with a truly magnificent look at Martlin Luther King, Jr. and the Birmingham civil rights campaign...Those new to King will be intrigued, informed, and inspired. Those very familiar with King and the events in Birmingham will gain fresh and engaging insights. Birmingham Revolution is a must read."
More Than Serving Tea: Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership and Faith Nikkie Toyama & Tracey Gee, Jeanette Yep, and others editors (IVP) $16.00 This is such a great resource, written by a variety of Asian American evangelical women with various concerns and reflections and advice -- powerful stuff. The writing is really fascinating and at times quite poignant. A must. We have other resources by, for or on Asian American theology and ministry, too.
Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation Ray Suarez (Penguin) $18.00 We were once honored to sit next to Suarez at a book signing gig at the National Press Club, and he was a gem. He is a senior correspondent at PBS Newshour and this new work is a companion to the PBS Documentary series by the same name. It looks tremendous. By the way, for the record, you should know of the best entry level book on this topic, one of the few that is solidly evangelical, Being Latino in Christ: Finding Wholeness in Your Ethnic Identity by our friend (IVP; $16.00.) Both of these are highly recommended, although we have many others by, for or about Latino ministry.
From Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post-Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church Wesley Granberg-Michaelson (Eerdmans) $20.00 This is one of the handful of books that I will surely declare as one of the most important of 2013 -- I regret not having been able to describe it more thoroughly here, yet. The author is an amazing, ecumenical leader and I hope you know his remarkable memoir, surprisingly germane to this topic, even, Unexpected Destinations: An Evangelical Pilgrimage to World Christianity (Eerdmans; $24.00.) In this new one, Wes takes the conversation about global Christianity a huge step further with a sustained look at how immigration and patterns of migration are bringing two-thirds world Christians and their unique theologies and church practices to our doorstep. Yes, the demographic center of gravity is for the first time in church history no longer Western. But the people and faith practices of those multi-ethic folk aren't just a curiosity for those that study world missions, it is effecting the texture of most cities in America and nearly every denomination. This is a grand and great book for those that have eyes to see. And what a great title, with such a great cover! Wes' old friend Jim Wallis writes, "This is the most important book anyone can read about the future of the church." You should check it out.
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