Here are this month’s book suggestions from your friends at The Scroll:
Compassion & Conviction: The And Campaign’s Guide to Civic Engagement by Justin Giboney — Have you ever felt too progressive for conservatives, but too conservative for progressives?
Too often, political questions are framed in impossible ways for the faithful Christian: we’re forced to choose between social justice and biblical values, between supporting women and opposing abortion. As a result, it’s easy for Christians to grow disillusioned with civic engagement or fall back into tribal extremes. This state of affairs has damaged Christian public witness and divided the church.
The authors of this book represent the AND Campaign, which exists to educate and organize Christians for faithful civic and cultural engagement. They insist that not only are we called to love our neighbors through the political process but also that doing so requires us to transcend the binary way the debates are usually framed. In simple, understandable language, they lay out the biblical case for political engagement and help Christians navigate the complex world of politics with integrity, from political messaging and the politics of race to protests, advocacy, and more. The book includes a study guide for classroom use and group discussion.
When we understand our civic engagement as a way to obey Christ’s call to love our neighbor, we see that it is possible to engage the political process with both love and truth―compassion and conviction.
We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis by Mary E. DeMuth — Time’s Up: Addressing the Unspoken Crisis in the Church
We like to think the church is a haven for the hurting. But what happens when it’s not?
Author and advocate Mary DeMuth urges the church she loves to rise up and face the evil of sexual abuse and harassment with candor and empathy. Based on research and survivors’ stories, along with fierce fidelity to Scripture, DeMuth unpacks the church’s response to sexual violence and provides a healthy framework for the church to become a haven of healing instead of an institution of judgment.
In the throes of the #MeToo movement, our response as Christians is vital. God beckons us to be good Samaritans to those facing trauma and brokenness in the aftermath of abuse and provide safe spaces to heal. DeMuth advocates for a culture of honesty and listening and calls on the church to enter the places where people are hurting. In the circle of that kind of empathetic #WeToo community, the church must become what it’s meant to be—a place of justice and healing for everyone.
When Thoughts and Prayers Aren’t Enough: A Shooting Survivor’s Journey into the Realities of Gun Violence by Taylor S. Schumann —
Taylor Schumann never thought she’d be a victim of gun violence. But one spring day a man with a shotgun walked into her workplace and opened fire on her. While she survived, she was left with permanent wounds, both visible and invisible.
In When Thoughts and Prayers Aren’t Enough, Taylor invites us to see what it means to be a survivor after the news vehicles drive away and the media moves on. Healing is slow and complicated. As she suffered through surgeries, grueling rehabilitation, and counseling to repair the physical injuries and emotional trauma, she came face to face with the deep and lasting impact of gun violence. As she began grappling with the realities, Taylor experienced another painful truth: Christians have largely been absent from this issue. Gun violence undercuts God’s vision of abundant life and community―and the silence of the church rings loudly in the ears of survivors and families of victims.
Taylor weaves her own incredible story of survival and recovery into a larger conversation about gun violence in our country. With compassion and honesty, she encourages readers to reconsider their own engagement with the issue and to join her in envisioning a more hopeful, safer future for our nation. Move beyond thoughts and prayers and enter into grace-filled dialogue and action.
Advocates: The Narrow Path to Racial Reconciliation by Dhati Lewis — A slave runs away from his master. A mutual friend steps in to mediate between the two of them. Can there be healing in such a scarred relationship? In the face of such a daunting breach, is reconciliation (not to what was, but to what God designed) even possible?
This is the situation faced in the book of Philemon. From this short New Testament letter, pastor and author Dhati Lewis (Among Wolves) unpacks key principles that Paul applied to being an advocate in the midst of division.
The divisions of our day don’t look the same as Paul’s, but the principles are timeless. In 2 Corinthians 5, God commissioned us to be his ambassadors and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. Whether we’re engaging in issues of politics, ethnicity, or religious beliefs, our heart posture should be one of an advocate set on reconciliation. The problem is, too many of us approach difficult conversations with the heart of an aggravator. Aggravators sometimes look like they are pursuing good things, but their heart is not toward reconciliation. Any motive less than reconciliation falls short of the desires of God’s heart.
We need godly advocates in every sphere of life. This book will specifically apply these principles to issues of ethnic division. Are you willing to call any division caused by discrimination, prejudice, or racism a sin? Do you want to grow in your ability to navigate tense and emotional conversations about ethnic divisions? Are you ready to become an advocate?
Reading the Times: A Literary and Theological Inquiry into the News by Jeffrey Bilbro — “Reading the morning newspaper is the realist’s morning prayer.”―G. W. F. Hegel
Whenever we reach for our phones or scan a newspaper to get “caught up,” we are being not merely informed but also formed. News consumption can shape our sense of belonging, how we judge the value of our lives, and even how our brains function. Christians mustn’t let the news replace prayer as Hegel envisioned, but neither should we simply discard the daily feed. We need a better understanding of what the news is for and how to read it well.
Jeffrey Bilbro invites readers to take a step back and gain some theological and historical perspective on the nature and very purpose of news. In Reading the Times he reflects on how we pay attention, how we discern the nature of time and history, and how we form communities through what we read and discuss. Drawing on writers from Thoreau and Dante to Merton and Berry, along with activist-journalists such as Frederick Douglass and Dorothy Day, Bilbro offers an alternative vision of the rhythms of life, one in which we understand our times in light of what is timeless.
Throughout, he suggests practices to counteract common maladies tied to media consumption in order to cultivate healthier ways of reading and being. When the news sets itself up as the light of the world, it usurps the role of the living Word. But when it helps us attend together to the work of Christ―down through history and within our daily contexts―it can play a vital part in enabling us to love our neighbors. Reading the Times is a refreshing and humane call to put the news in its place.