5 books on Martin Luther King, 5 books on race AND an offer for a free book

Just got back from selling books with the staff of the CCO, the thoughtful and vibrant campus ministry organization that I often talk about.  Their fun and good work with college students in Ohio, Pennsylvania, the DC area and a few other spots in the mid-Atlantic gives me great hope.  Evangelical faith can be nurtured, commitments to local churches can be deepened, new students can be introduced to the saving grace of Christ and students can be equipped to become salt and light in the world as they take up their vocations, careers and callings in the classroom.  The Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh each February, of course, is their flagship event, an event we’ve been deeply involved with for decades.

The topic for their staff training seminar was racial reconciliation, multi-ethnic ministry, and cross cultural intelligence.  Besides other books on faith, discipleship, social action, cultural engagement, the Christian mind, worldview, and the always-needed Bible study resources and books for growing young adult Christians—from sex and dating to prayer and spirituality—we featured books on race relations and multi-ethnic ministry.  I might guess that your church could use some help in these areas, too.  We were happy to promote (among the over 100 books on this topic we displayed) the important new book by Soong-Chan Rah, Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church, the new, very useful collection of essays for congregational leaders, The Multi-Cultural Ministry Handbook: Connecting Creatively to a Diverse World edited by David Anderson (also the author of the cleverly titled and very helpful Gracism: The Art of Inclusion, both published by IVP) and Cultural Intelligence: Improving Your CQ To Engage Our Multi-Cultural World by David A. Livermore (Baker.) We really like The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change by Brenda Salter McNeil & Rick Richardson (IVP) so had that featured.  I often recommend (especially for beginners in this topic) the lovely and powerful Living in Color: Embracing God’s Passion for Ethnic Diversity by First Nations leader Randy Woodley (IVP).  Of course we had the meaty must-read Race Matters by Cornel West (Vintage) and, for a considerable counter perspective, The Content of our Character and White Guilt by the eloquent Shelby Steele (both Harper.)  The recent Zondervan DVDs Justice for the Poor (Jim Wallis and Sojourners) and Start: Becoming a Good Samaritan (World Vision) are excellent ways to move towards this conversation as well and are ideal for small groups or adult Sunday school classes.  Do let us know if you want prices or other lists of recommended resources for your setting.

Although I didn’t necessarily promote these at the event, here are some that seem right to celebrate now.  Check out the good deals on these below.  Click on the link shown to order.

5 Books on King

0069.jpgStride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story  Martin Luther King, Jr (Beacon) $14.00  I have often said that this is on my list of my all time, top-ten favorite books.  It was King’s first book, narrating with edge-of-your-seat detail his work in the famous bus boycott of 1955 and 1956, published to great acclaim by Harper in 1958.  Do you recall when some dumb pundits mocked candidate Obama for being a “community organizer” as if ACORN-type groups don’t really do anything?  They should read this electrifying and edifying memoir, a quintessential book reporting on the work of organizing.  King also struggles here with the question of nonviolence, his experience at seminary, his work as pastor and his sense of call to this work (as a 26 year old!) Read along as he offers leadership transforming a community, inspired by the nonviolent direct action of Mahatma Gandhi, living the literal agonies and ecstasies of this great chapter in American history.  Stunning, not only as a chronicle of history, but a charge to us all.

0067.jpgWhere Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?  Martin Luther King, Jr. (Beacon) $14.00  This was King’s final book, and a lot had happened from the story of 1955-1956 told in Stride to this visionary book of great hope for a better world, penned amidst the turmoil of the the late sixties civil rights struggle.  Cornel West notes that King was “one of the greatest organic intellectuals in American history.  His unique ability to connect the life of the mind to the struggle for freedom is legendary, and in this book—his last grand expression of his vision—he put forward his most prophetic challenge to powers that be and his most progressive program for the wretched of the earth.” This recent edition includes a valuable introduction by the remarkable Vincent Harding.  (Harding, you may know, helped draft King’s powerful, explosive speech delivered at Riverside Church in April of 1967 where he critiqued American militarism and the Viet Nam war.  Harding’s ten page intro is itself a wonder and very valuable. Coretta Scott King has a forward as well.)

Martin Luther King, Jr for Armchair Theologians  Rufus Burrow, Jr. (WJK) $16.95
Do you51ESJkTTJJL._SL500_AA300_.jpg  know this series of basic introductions to various theologians–from Augustine and Aquinas through Luther, Calvin, Wesley and Edwards, into modern authors like Barth and Bonhoeffer? There is even one called The Reformation and one called The Heretics.  These are all quite enjoyable, very informative, sometimes pretty witty with winsome cartoons, even.  True to form, this is a great and readable overview, exploring deep stuff in simple ways.  Written by experts with good storytelling gifts, these are all good.  The King one is suburb.  Not to be missed.  (We have all the others in this series, too, of course.  Great for small groups.)

cover-of-what-would-martin-say1.jpgWhat Would Martin Say?  Clarance Jones (Harper) $13.99  Jones was recruited by King in 1960 and worked with him as a principal adviser and now is a scholar in residence at the Martin Luther King Jr Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.  Can anybody speak for King, imaginging what the great, if flawed, leader, would be saying to today’s contemporary social problems?  Tavis Smiley suggests that Jones is “one of the few who possess the moral authority necessary to even attempt such as task, one that he more than accomplishes with a compelling cando
r and uncommon grace and dignity.”  This is not mere speculation about bedeviling modern issues—Islamic terrorism, illegal immigration and such—but a great way to “get into” the mind of King.  This is a fascinating way to learn and we highly recommend it as a way to further conversations about the significance of King’s views.

Never to Leave Us Alone: The Prayer Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.                                 Lewis Baldwin (Fortress Press) $16.95   49813015.JPG We stock several books about King’s preaching, but this is the only book available on this important topic, King’s prayer life.  The author is an esteemed scholar in the study of King, and he has done years of original research to write this very useful, and thrilling book.  Several of King’s closest associates have vouched for Baldwin’s claim of King’s desire to “pray without ceasing” and the mystique of his rare, gentle power.  Needless to say, it explores also his prayers of lament, his rage, his doubt—all that was well known.  That is, this is both a fabulous historical contribution—essential for a honest understanding of the man, I’d say—and a very helpful window into the life of the Spirit for any of us wanting to live a life of public discipleship rooted in prayer, meditation, and child-like dependency upon God. Nicely done.

5 Books about Race

gods-long-summer-stories-of-faith-and-civil-rights.jpgGod’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights  Charles Marsh (Princeton University Press) $18.95  This award winning and highly esteemed bit of oral history explores the religious foundations of both the civil rights activists and those who opposed desegregation, often on Biblical grounds.  Marsh is an excellent historian and an excellent writer, bringing the reader right in to this harrowing era. Interestingly, he allows both sides of the struggle to be heard, and it is amazing how sometimes the same Bible verses were used in very different contexts, for very different purposes.  Whew.  This amazing book is beyond vivid, it is riveting, heartfelt, serious, graceful—the affirming adjectives in the many reviews have piled up, reminding us that this is one of the great books in this vast field.  And, it is a good case study of profound moral questions and how people do or do not take stands in faithful, coherent way.  A very interesting book, provocative and important.

Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great
Not-In-My-Neighborhood.jpg American City  Antero Pietila (Ivan Dee) $28.95 We have here at the shop a large section on urban ministry; the stories of those living in American ghettos has long intrigued us and we long to resource those doing city work.  There are many good books with faith-based perspectives on the profound and complex problems of urban poverty and segregation and the particular sorts of racial problems in our urban centers.  None of these many books about race or poverty and ministry can be understood without knowing the history of “white flight” and the pivotal rise of segregation in U.S. cities in the middle of the 20th century.  Baltimore, Maryland was one of the cities that most enacted this awful practice and it has felt the consequences for half a century.  This important book tells the tale (as one reviewer put it) as a “page-turner”  “chock-full of riveting and shocking stories and vivid, unforgettable characters.”   The large back-story of this, further, is the story of the great migration of southern blacks to the North, and that is beautifully told in the spectacular new social history called The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House; $30.00.)  This rich book, too, has garnered superlative reviews and is truly one of the great publications of the year.

51swoVb8ygL._SL500_AA300_.jpgMore Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel Spencer Perkins & Chris Rice (IVP) $16.00  As a bookseller wanting to attract new customers and keep old ones interested, I often tell of new books, push exciting recent releases and feel awkward sounding like a broken record describing older books that are well known amongst our core audience.  Still, I will say it again: this is one of the great books on this topic, honest, mature, raw, Biblically-based, practical, inspiring, tough and hopeful.  Few books get rave reviews from, say, The Christian Century and the old Moody Monthly and we can assure you that this one deserves the wide acclaim.  The late Spencer Perkins is the son of legendary black preacher of reconciliation and justice, John Perkins and here they tell of their efforts to forge inter-racial ministry and friendship.

Welcoming Justice: God’s Movement Towards Beloved Community  
cmarsh.jpg Charles Marsh & John Perkins (IVP) $15.00  This is a recent release from the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School, which, like the others five in the Center’s series, links an academic scholar and a practitioner/ activist to write moving, thoughtful, theologically-mature reflections on topics of great relevance for those wanting to see God’s gospel of reconciliation advanced.  Lauren Winner notes that while we admire the many excellent books of both of these two important authors, this may be the best they’ve yet done.  Brief, powerful, very highly recommended.  The other ones, by the way, are extraordinary as well.

9780802830685_l-200x300.jpgConsuming Jesus  Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church  Paul Louis Metzger (Eerdmans) $16.00  This came out a few years ago and I think it is exceptional (and exceptionally under-appreciated.)  Do you know Metzger’s important and fruitful efforts at the The Institute for the Theology of Culture at Multnomah Biblical Seminary in Portland? (He has a new collectio
n of various essays on theological cultural engagement called New Wine Tastings, just out from Wipf & Stock.)  Consuming Jesus has a thoughtful forward by Donald Miller and an afterward by John Perkins.  Pastor Rick McKinley says that “Paul Metzger has become a catalytic voice in the city of Portland; his passion for the gospel engaging the culture is at the core of his life.”  This is beyond a study of America’s race problem, it is a larger study of our culpability in reducing church and ministry to “success” measured by numbers and data and dollars.  How can we create authentic community across race and class lines, nurturing fidelity in a culture of consumption?  Can we learn to be Kingdom people, can our churches become centers of real compassion and not merely purveyors of religious services?  This is an incisive and important book, serious but well written, challenging and interesting.  I would think our customers and friends would find it very helpful.  Thanks for letting us tell you about it.

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2 thoughts on “5 books on Martin Luther King, 5 books on race AND an offer for a free book

  1. Hi Byron (et. al.)
    This is a shameless act of vanity, but I’ve just written a book that I think you would like and would eventually put on your “At least in the neighborhood of good” list.
    It’s called _The Greatest Story Oversold: Understanding Economic Globalization_. The title doesn’t reflect it, but it’s written from a religious perspective and written for religious people. I am both an economist and an activist pastor and this book tries to bring the two together. I go through the current “rules” pushed by strong countries on weak ones in the global economy, and then I lift up specific topics, like NAFTA, Immigration, the Debt Crisis, and Coffee, and look at the economic injustices under them. I close with a story of the growth of economic disparity and oppression in Bible history.
    I know this is a self-promoting commercial, but I also think it’s the kind of book that you guys would like and stock. So, I just thought I’d mention it.
    Stan Duncan

  2. Stan,
    Wow, thanks for finding us, and thanks for writing. I’m part way through the book. It has some great insight, great blurbs from important folks—way to go. We’re grateful. Next time I’m writing on this theme, I’ll be sure to do the shout at. Glad for your work. Thanks.

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