Four important new books to “bring things to light.” ON SALE 20% OFF

As we move towards the celebration of Epiphany, we think, among other things, of Light. Of course that which “shines through” (the meaning of the word) is the person and work of Christ, His divinity and His redemptive plan to restore the cosmos. Themes of Christ being the Light from heaven are a central liturgical motif and a true word from Scripture. In John 1 it reminds us that the true Word has come into the world as light and the darkness has not be able to put it out.

Although, as we shall see, it tries.

Naturally, this is a time to refocus on Christ, on His saving power, his merciful grace, the way the Wise men culminate what we already know in the incarnation — that Christ comes also for those outside of Israel. (Ahhh, just think of those four women named in the genealogy in Matthew!). I was drawn this past season to a book we mentioned a week or so ago which was a hefty hardback full of great reproductions of renaissance paintings of Jesus. It is called Fair Jesus: The Gospels According to Italian Painters 1300 – 1650 by Robert Kiely (Paraclete Press; $39.99.)  We still have it at that announced 20% off  (making it $31.99) and it might be a good resource for your meditations this season, or any.

For this edition of BookNotes I’d light to run a bit of a riff on the Epiphany light theme, inviting you to join me in, in naming some things that need exploring in light of the Light; as the saying goes, “holding it up to the light.”

It is an exceedingly important role, investigative journalism or expose. Creatively done non-fiction that calls us to study and understand hard things is a gift; such work is prophetic some might even say, if it warns of idols and the consequences of our misguided ways. Here are four brand new books that are thoughtful and helpful and wise and bold in telling us – in light of the Light – about some distortions and dysfunctions, sins and sadnesses. If we are to live in the light of Christ’s truth, we have to face this stuff. We commend these authors to you, beseeching you to buy their books, born of love and tears, I’m sure. The publisher, naturally, will be encouraged to continue to take the risks of publishing this kind of (perhaps controversial) work if these sorts of titles actually sell. We want to support this kind of deeply Christian investigation into the shadows and hurts, and we hope you agree that you need to know this kind of stuff. Some religious bookstores don’t carry this kind of thing, so we hope we are offering you a service in highlighting at least these four. All are marked down 20% off and can be ordered easily by using the order tab link at the very bottom of this column. Thanks for caring. Happy Epiphany!

The #MeToo Reckoning: Facing the Church’s Complicity in Sexual Abuse and Misconduct  Ruth Everhart (IVP) $17.00  You may remember that we reviewed the amazing, gripping, important memoir, Ruined, Everhart wrote about being raped as a college student decades ago and how her conservative Christian college, admirable in so many ways, didn’t seem to have the heart or mind, the resources or interests, to help her much. As we learned in that book Ms. Everhart went on to get a seminary degree and was called into ordained ministry through the PC(USA.). She has served several churches in her calling (rural and suburban, multi-staff and smaller.) As a loyal shepherd in Christ’s church she continues to care for those who have been abused and has, in fact, be involved in churches where there has been sexual misconduct. Not every pastor faces this ugly stuff, but more do than you might realize.

Since the flood of stories that have come out since the #metoo movement started a few years ago, there have been other books highlighting sexual aggression against women and men, girls and boys, and this one may be the best book on this topic I’ve yet seen. Of course the child sexual abuse scandal and the scandal of cover-up within the Roman Catholic church has been catastrophic and there has been award-winning investigative reports, movies, and books about it.  Everhart’s book focuses on Protestant churches and, like most #metoo stories, is more about sexual harassment and abuse of women and less about the crime of pedophilia.

The #MeToo Reckoning: Facing the Church’s Complicity is powerful and readable. The prose is straight forward and captures the reader easily—it is not lurid but neither is it bloodlessly clinical. It is not explicit or graphic but there is some awful stuff reported (if not described in detailed.) It has a pastoral tone of listening well, naming things clearly, caring for victims and of demanding justice. The notion of “complicity” in the book is important, as, like the #metoo movement, has exposed cover-ups and refusal to be honest about all this. Yet, Everhart still loves the church, is a dedicated follower of Jesus and is a Christian leader; she desires the best not only for wounded victims but for our religious institutions and faith communities as well. Shining the light is not an act of vindictiveness but of faithful truth-telling, offered in a spirit of righteousness — wanting to make things right. If you care about how women are treated in churches and have a hunch that some of these #metoo concerns are more prevalent than we like to admit, you need to read this book. If you are perhaps a bit naïve and can’t quite imagine that youth pastors or ministers or personnel committees or elder boards would commit these kinds of sins (or cover up misbehavior) you have to read The #MeToo Reckoning.

One of the great benefits of reading these hard stories, testimonials of clergy abuse, and other sexist acts of abuse of power, is that we are introduced to the victims and survivors, hearing their own stories in nearly their own voices. This is a must, and Ruth is a safe and trusted ally for these women to tell their own stories. This safe space has been a gift to the women, too, as many of these wounded sisters have reported that they weren’t believed or were not taken seriously. Their stories were minimized or silenced; sometimes, fearing this would happen, they just were never told in the first place. Holding this up to the light is good for the tellers and it is good for us to hear.

A second really good reason to buy this book is for the Bible reflections offered within each chapter. Each chapter is a telling of a certain sexual assault or #metoo type misconduct and as that story is told, a Bible story is told, in tandem. In a way, the Biblical narrative brings light to the victims story; the Scriptures are opened up in their relevance and power, even in the messy way a patriarchal culture (then) tells the stories of abuse and rape and aggression. While the stupid patriarchy of our churches is being described (including, I might add, denominations and judicatories that pride themselves in being progressive and justice-seeking!) the Bible’s own engagement with this stuff is explored. Ruth is really good in this back and forth, allowing the Light of the Word to shine on these contemporary injustice.

But there is more: in fact, she is doing much more in these Bible studies: she admittedly is reading and interpreting them through the lens of abuse. That is, since nobody reads the Bible plainly or without some lens or interpretive grid, she is trying to allow the pain of our sisters in these modern church settings to inform how we grappled with the meaning of the text. It’s not overly academic or abstract womanist hermeneutics, just good honest back and forth interpretation by a Bible scholar and pastor, in light of what she knows to be true about the world. Again, she has experienced this, even as an associate pastor, in a story she bravely tells about her own almost unbelievable situation.

In every chapter Ruth ends with a few key points, including insights into the Biblical text and then a hashtag point of what she is hoping the church will learn from these tragic fiascos. The take-aways are useful and every church needs to be attentive to these kinds of practical recommendations.

When we pre-ordered our copies of The #Metoo Reckoning we assumed we would want to tell folks about it. We have had a section of books about sexual abuse and domestic violence (also in the church) since the day we opened. We’ve always tried to facilitate conversations about what the Bible does and doesn’t say about gender justice and we’ve always carried a good amount of feminist theology, evangelical and Catholic and mainline. In our years of stocking this kind of stuff, I’ve not found in many years a fresh, new resource that is as gripping and as powerful and as prophetic and yet as deeply faithful with a wholesome sort of spiritual piety and pastoral sense as The #MeToo Reckoning by Ruth Everhart. Yes, we ordered a bunch and yes we intended to feature it. Now that I’ve read it in its entirety, I can’t say enough about it. We are ordering more now so we have plenty on hand. We hope you order a couple. It’s time this crisis in our churches, even in our best and seemingly most healthy, is understood and, where necessary, exposed.

 

Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah (InterVarsity Press) $17.00  This recent release has been a much-anticipated book, in part because Mark Charles, a man of Navajo and Dutch American descent, has been a tireless speaker, an inspiring and powerful teacher, and a helpful mentor to many, speaking out about Native issues for years. Soong-Chan Rah is also quite well known (he teaches Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary) and has published several important books. This recent one is perhaps the first in its genre being published within the evangelical world so it is, in a way, historic; it is a strong theological critique of the fifteenth century church edict which gave Christian explorers the right to claim territories they “discovered.” Exploration, missionary work and crass colonialism combined in ways that were hardly ever helpful for indigenous people. (See the powerful award winning film The Mission for a compelling, tragic, beautiful treatment.)

Many have documented how this kind of colonialism often lead to injustices and even genocide. (See, for instance, the important Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys by Richard Twiss or a few of the chapters in Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith co-edited by Rah, by the way) but few have tackled the fundamental legal question about this institutionalized legitimization of repression by church and state as has Mr. Charles in Unsettling Truths.

As Unsettling Truths — get the double entendre of the title — explains, such institutionalized “divine right” to grab land and subjugate indigenous peoples naturally led to other unhealthy and detrimental notions, from American exceptionalism and triumphalism to white supremacy and slavery. As Bruce Cockburn starts his song “Stolen Lands”, “From Tierra del Fuego to Ungava Bay/The history of betrayal continues to today…”

No one can ever justify to brutal treatment that many First Nations peoples faced but we have to do more than lament and shrug. We must understand and critique and deconstruct the powers that set this awful history of stolen land in place. We must figure out what to say about the “Doctrine of Discovery” and what to think about a church that would declare such thing.  It all has to be brought into the light of truth, the light of Christ, the light that can reveal ways to move forward.

There are amazing chapters in here — agree or not with all of them, you should read “The Doctrine of Discovery and Why It Matters” and “The Power of Narratives and the Imagination” and the beautiful “The Kingdom of God Is About Relationship Not Empire.” These authors explore the “Dysfunctional Theology Brought to the ‘New’ World” and explores not just settle colonialism but even stuff about Abraham Lincoln (including, then, the era of Native Genocide.” He asks about the complexities of American trauma in our historic story and invites a “truth and conciliation” project. The sharp words about the failure of “re-concilation” is urgent, I think. There is a lot of vital content in here.

I so respect the esteemed historian Mark Noll. I appreciate his thoughts here saying that he may wish for other interpretations of some of the events in described in this book and he finally does not fully agree with all of their conclusions. But yet, he endorses and recommend reading it. Listen to the always prudent Professor Noll:

“Why should I endorse a book when I do not agree with some of its historical judgments? Answer: for the same reason you should read it. Charles and Rah attack a pernicious principle (the Doctrine of Discovery), review an evil history (the United States’ treatment of Native peoples), challenge a persistent stereotype (American exceptionalism), and psychoanalyze white America (in denial about the nation’s history). The entire book, even when you think things could be evaluated differently, will make you think, and think hard, about crucially important questions of Christian doctrine, American history, and God’s standards of justice.”

Listen to these two passionate endorsements, among many:

“Oh that this book’s thesis were merely ‘unsettling’ like a brisk wind or a cancelled flight might be. Instead, Charles’s and Rah’s argument feels more like an earthquake or a tsunami. To hear the Doctrine of Discovery this richly, poignantly, and painfully explicated will press readers to face ‘truths’ that are not merely unsettled but undone. Therein lies the book’s hope.”
–Mark Labberton, President, Fuller Theological Seminary
“There is an inherent danger in attempting to decolonize and deconstruct one’s faith without an understanding of how deeply Western Christianity wed itself to the false and dangerous Doctrine of Discovery. Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah skillfully give us an unflinching look at Western political and church history, weave in personal stories, and help connect the past to present policies, appealing to both our hearts and minds.”
–Kathy Khang, author, Raise Your Voice
Healing Racial Trauma: The Road to Resilience Sheila Wise Rowe (InterVarsity Press) $17.00  This is a brand new book and we must say that there is, to the best of our knowledge, nothing in print that approximates it. This is not a general book about racial injustices, not just a call to racial justice and reconciliation, not even a handbook for minority Christians to navigate the tensions of living and working in largely white culture and institutions. There are many good books on those topics, many done by this same publisher (who has by far contributed more to evangelical awareness of racial and ethnic concerns and ministries that any other publisher in the last 50 years) but this, this is something unique. It is, as the title plainly notes, a book about healing from trauma caused by racism. Ms Rowe’s Healing Racial Trauma is a rare and important book.
I have heard speakers on this topic and have had conversations with those who are learning about trauma studies and the trauma inflicted upon people of color. But no one has yet brought it together in a full length book study like this. Not only is it pioneering, it is astute and wise and poignant and good. Dan Allender — who knows something about trauma and has written eloquently about healing from abuse of other kinds — is right to say that Healing Racial Trauma by Sheila Wise Rowe is “a magisterial gift.”
You will be glad to know that Ms Rowe holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology and she has ministered to abuse and trauma survivors in the United States and in South African. She is also a spiritual director. Again, this is so good to have someone trained in spiritual practices and mental health and psychology, through the healing lens of a deeply integrated Christian worldview. As a woman of color (who was bused to an almost all white school amidst great animosity) Rowe knows first hand that hurts and damages that come from racist cultures.
I suppose most readers will know or at least intuit this, but for the record: this book is not mostly about “getting over” or “coping with” or forgiving rare episodes of racist slurs. As hurtful as such demeaning gestures or episodes can be, there are other sorts of injustices and demeaning and hurt that comes less overtly, perhaps, more ubiquitous, the normalization of white supremacy. Some people almost joke about the dangers of “driving while black.”  But it is a constant low level anxiety among many, many people of color, for good reason. This book explores some of that systemic weight that is carried by people of various colors and hues and ethnicities — and invites reader to a journey of finding hope and healing and, indeed, spiritual power that looks like resilience.
Listen to these authors and activists who are glad this notion of “racial trauma” is being brought to light, and want you to read this, helping deepen the conversation in the light of God’s gospel:

“I am excited to recommend people of faith pay close attention to the work of Sheila Wise Rowe in her much-needed book, Healing Racial Trauma. The road to resilience is long and lonely. Black people in the United States are often required to believe that we can sprint to strength and that we need not heal from what happened in our history. Sheila’s careful surveys of interpersonal, systemic, historical, and transgenerational issues inspire and remind us that there is deep work to do, not simply for resolve and survival but for the sake of future generations. I was especially pleased to note the author’s strivings for First Nations solidarity. I appreciated the boldness of each chapter focus and the spiritual connections employed with psychology and critical race theory, not against. This is fearless and much too rare in faith-rooted trauma counseling. I hope that black Christians, all Christians of color, and their families will use this book as an inspiration, affirmation, and a guide to addressing the bitter pieces of our stories. I expect white Christians to find a resource of patient assistance on their own road to resilience and deliverance from the vestiges of whiteness and its demonic grip on the global household of God.” —Michelle Higgins, co-host of Truth’s Table and executive director of Faith for Justice

Healing Racial Trauma is one of the most revelatory, fiercely honest, and hope-filled books that I’ve ever read. My dear friend Sheila Wise Rowe performs open-heart surgery on those wounded by racial trauma by acknowledging their stories, validating their pain, and offering the only actual solution: Christ-centered healing. Regardless of your background, you cannot read this book and not be changed.” —Dorothy Littell Greco, author of Making Marriage Beautiful

Healing Racial Trauma is outstanding. This book forced me to pull back the makeshift Band-Aids, which on the surface hid some deep-seated wounds from the racial trauma I had experienced. Reading this book reminded me of the stories my black grandparents would share of racial tension and outright hatred with my siblings and me at a very young age. Tears filled my eyes while I was holding on to every written word. I pressed beyond the immediate feelings that welled up within me to find solace and embrace authentic healing. This book is a must-read if you are serious about healing racial trauma. I give Sheila Wise Rowe a standing ovation for this life-altering book!”       —Gail Dudley, author and speaker
“With a Christian’s worldview, a counselor’s expertise, and a survivor’s personal perspective, Sheila Wise Rowe weaves together her personal memoir with history, social science, and a biblical framework to offer a pathway for healing to those who have experienced racial trauma. She also brings a Galatians 6:2-like advocacy for all who pray for healing and restoration of our brothers and sisters.”  —Kristie Anybwile
“Sheila Wise Rowe taught me much in this well-written, vulnerable, and heart-shaping book. As the pastor of Sheila’s multiethnic church, I’ve too often wanted to rush my Black and Brown brothers and sisters to forgiveness, ignorant of the process of healing that must surround and support them. Her work here helped me understand something that hadn’t clicked for far too long, and I’m grateful. Shining a light without shaming, I read this book and learned from an author who loves her readers, whoever they happen to be. Pick up this needed addition to an all-too-often acrimonious conversation and learn to heal, hear, and walk together as the diverse disciples that Jesus our savior calls his church to be. I want my whole staff to read this, and I recommend that you read it too.”  — Adam Mabry, lead pastor Aletheia Church
Healing Racial Trauma is a magisterial gift for those who have suffered harm as a person of color, and it is also a revelation for those whose whiteness has served as a pair of blinders from racial trauma. Sheila Wise Rowe brilliantly exposes, narrates, honors, and calls forth from Scripture, clients, and her own life, the stories of violation and the power of hope. There are few books I have read where I wept and raged and was humbled and offered a vision of what it might be like to fulfill the Lord’s prayer: ‘Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ This is must-read for all who hunger for righteousness.”  — Dan B. Allender, author, professor of counseling psychology, founding president of The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology

Revolution of Values: Reclaiming Public Faith for the Common Good Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (InterVarsity Press)  $22.00  Talk about bringing things into the light. I am nearly positive that you will learn things in this book you didn’t know, you will be inspired to hear about stories you may have not heard about, and you will see things — mostly, the Bible and the social ethics demanded by a Christ-like worldview — in a very new way. Might I say, in a new Light?

A few quick comments: there is too much to discuss in the very impressive (but very readable) Revolution of Values to cover here, now, so I hope to do an extended treatment where I can let loose a bit more. (For starters, for reasons I might discuss more later, I don’t approve of the late-60s clenched fist on the cover. I have no idea who that is supposed to appeal to or why conjuring up connections to SDS and leftist revolutionaries of the late 60s has much to do with this book. There are a lot of stories in Revolution of Values but most are about Christians that had little connection to that particular era. I suspect the art designer for the publisher knows little about this era; I know that Wilson-Hartgrove was not connected to that period, either, so it’s an unhelpful choice in my view; cheap appropriation that’s a miss. But I digress already.)

Yet, the “revolution” that Wilson-Hartgrove does talk about, and that he has been deeply involved in is, in fact, pretty wild and wooly. From his early transformation into a radical Christ-follower (after having been raised as a foot soldier in the religious right — he was even a Senate page for legendary segregationist Strom Thurmand) Jonathan became friends with pacifist and neo-Catholic Worker Shane Claiborne where they together forged the “new monastic” movement as exemplified by Shane’s community in Camden, NJ (The Simple Way) and Wilson-Hartgrove’s Rutba House in Durham, NC. (For a good study of the principles developed as they nurtured a network of such radical communities living in service to the poor “as exiles in the Empire” see School(s) for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism) or the more popular level The Awakening of Hope: Why We Practice a Common Faith.) Not many of us have gone into live war zones with Christian Peacemaker teams to bear witness to nonviolence or have taken up long term relationships with small, nearly forgotten urban churches, or have studied so carefully the spiritual disciplines (such as Saint Benedict) to see how they could sustain an interior life within a community that would allow them to endure in serving the poor and standing for justice. So, yep, this “revolution of values” is pretty revolutionary stuff, stuff that makes the clenched fist silkscreen hippy flag poster aesthetic seem like kids stuff.
Jonathan, himself a child of the south, studied more carefully — after years in a largely African American church in a working class neighborhood — the legacy of slavery that undergirds a culture of Jim Crow white supremacy and continues to loom over contemporary race relations.  In the 2018 book that was the fruit of these important reflections, Jonathan called for Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion. The flamboyant, nationally-known organizer of the 21st century Poor People’s Campaign and the “Moral Monday” movement, Reverend William Barber, wrote the foreword. This is significant because (or so it seems to me) because Reverend Barber is an esteemed nationally recognized black activist, a Reverend in the historic African American church. He preaches the gospel as good as anybody, but he did not come up through the evangelical subculture. That is, he is not one of the safer, known names within the evangelical world of this particular publisher. Jonathan was befriended by, perhaps mentored by, one who is many people’s eyes the closest thing we’ve ever had to a successor to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  And Jonathan has learned much through his deep involvement in the Moral Monday protests and as organizer for the ongoing Poor People’s Campaign.
Enough back story. Wilson-Hartgrove is, in Revolution of Values, bringing a handful of deep, important justice causes to light, viewing them in light of — get this — the victims of those injustices, those on the front-lines fighting them, and their view of how to read the Bible. Although I wished for a bit more of this, he says in the beginning of the book that, in fact, what we most need to do is learn to read the Bible anew. And the major resource for this, the main teachers, are those who have been on the front lines of service, resisting injustices, standing up, saying no, doing the works of mercy. That is, those, as we say, in the trenches.
(There is a wonderful chapter in Lauren Winner’s moving book Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God about how she learned much from incarcerated students to whom she taught Bible; Jonathan cites that chapter in a footnote, and I was glad — he too teaches in that program and is skilled at listening well to his students, allowing them to become his teacher. That upside down methodology seems sort of like what Jesus said, doesn’t it?)
For instance, the book powerfully starts with an episode of ministry with and solidarity with mothers at the border, parents separated from loved ones. They meet in the middle of the Rio Grande river in Texas for a few moments of baptism-like embrace and in these moments he is deeply moved. In the whole larger experience, he is taught much about how these immigrant women read the Bible. He sees new things in the text he never say and he interprets older passages in new, fresh ways, ways that ring true because they come from the sorts of people the text is speaking about. Wilson-Hartgrove has travelled the world and I am sure has sat under great, scholarly Bible teachers and well informed, highly educated preachers. But at some point, new insights are learned from those on the margins. That is very much what this book is about.
Throughout the book he tells us about others he has met and how they altered his way of seeing, his social imagination, his spirituality, his understanding of the Word of God. He meets environmental activists (in a chapter that is spectacular, by the way) and in “A Woman’s Work Is for Justice” he meets women working for fair wages and women’s suffrage — it’s a great history lesson. In one chapter he interviews soldiers who came to regret their militarism and in another he spends time with those working for an end to mass incarceration and prison reform. I know myself that I find it hard to sing the song “Lord Prepare Me to be a Sanctuary’ in any traditional worship setting because I sang it week after week for years with activists in the gravel road in front of a York County prison as we literally tried to get sanctuary for Chinese dissidents being held unfairly in the US; similarly, Wilson-Hartgrove’s “moral imagination” is newly renewed as he meets those doing that kind of work.
Can poor women, immigration activists, conscientious objectors to warfare and Native American Water Keepers teach us things, even things about how to understand our Bibles? If these issues and insights are brought into the light, could God’s own Light just beam brighter? I think this book is a very useful resource for this project — you will see learn or be reminded of important things, important things to God, important things for our culture, important things for your own soul.
There is more to this book besides walking alongside activists and allowing their justicey insights to shape our piety and our Bible reading. Wilson-Hartgrove does all this in direct contrast, chapter by chapter, to the organized efforts of the generation-old Christian Right. Like investigative journalists such as Jeff Sharlet or historians like Randall Balmer or John Fea or scholars such as Kevin Kruse or rowdy muck-rackers like Rachel Maddow, he documents some unsavory forces and connects the dots.  He names names, explores the history of who funds who, who influences whom — James Fifield and D.W. Griffith, the Koch Brothers, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Robert Tilton, the whole tawdry bunch — and asks us to be aware of what ideologies (and what profiteers) are behind much of the think tanks that shape the not-so-religious right. He is stronger and more forthright and educational for most of us than, say, Jim Wallis’s recent Christ in Crisis: Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus, which I have previously reviewed. That book, too, is inviting us to a more Biblically-faithful formation in the ways of Jesus. Jim gets there, in that book, by telling stories and studying Biblical texts. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove brings more history and stories of remarkable people who call us to a similar sort of “revolution of values” that would be consistent with a truly Christian frame. This is in exact contrast to the recent comment by Franklin Graham saying he does not look to Jesus for his political views.
Well, I get fired up about this stuff, even though the book is written fairly calmly, allowing the force of the stories and the impact of the truth to carry the weight. I think he makes a few mis-steps, and I may not agree with all of his assessments on each page. But still, Revolution of Values: Reclaiming Public Faith for the Common Good is a truly admirable project, drawing on great stories and great research, and offered for our edification. Hold this up to the light and see what happens. Highly recommended.
Jonathan has served as a scribe for the moral movement in America today. In Revolution of Values, he tells the truth about how the Bible was hijacked by the religious Right. But more importantly, he highlights the people who are challenging a false moral narrative and shows us how faith can revive the heart and soul of this democracy.” — William J. Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach, cochair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
“We are witnessing the climax of America’s longest war―the culture war. Born in the nascent years of both Ronald Reagan’s presidency and the religious Right, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove was a trained culture warrior―until he turned coat and ditched the delusion of moral grandeur revealed by mercenary politics. Revolution of Values is a gift to every person straining for clarity in the fog of the culture war’s climax. Read this book. Share it. Talk about it. Both the witness of the church and the future of our nation depends on our capacity to see through the fog right now.”  — Lisa Sharon Harper, president of Freedom Road and author of The Very Good Gospel

Revolution of Values puts words to the inarticulate frustrations, confusion, and righteous anger many have felt in response to the increasingly visible distance between the teachings of Jesus Christ and the actions of his followers. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove aims a pointed critique at the way some Christians have weaponized the Bible to promote policies that work against the poor, the immigrant, and people of color. He puts a face to the systemic and institutional abuses that have occurred over the past several decades by sharing the stories of people he personally knows. This book encourages all of us to work for nothing less than a revolution in our morality that will usher in more justice, equity, and love in the twenty-first century.” — Jemar Tisby, president of The Witness, author of The Color of Compromise

“Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s urgent message for the church is both a return to Jesus and a call for the body of Christ to no longer be held captive by the politics of our day. Revolution of Values returns to the heart of the Christian message―to follow Jesus, love our neighbor, bless those who persecute us, and pursue justice on behalf of the least of these. Revolution is an inspiring and prophetic book at a critical time in our country’s history!”  — Mae Elise Cannon, executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace, author of Social Justice Handbook and Just Spirituality

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