a recommendation, invitation and quotation
while stumbling about the new book area at the beverly library this saturday i stumbled across killing yourself to live by chuck klosterman (which i loved. i am beginning to think that klosterman is the new and improved, non-fiction version of douglas coupland, whose jpod, i can review with a single word: ehh…>) and the beloved community: how faith shapes social justice, from the civil rights movement to today by charles marsh.
although i have only completed the introduction of the latter work, i can already tell that it is going to be a book that i will love. within the first five pages marsh asserts that his book “seeks to reinvest the civil rights movement of its deep soul be interpreting the civil rights movement as a theological drama.” as marsh unfolds the stories of the leaders of the civil rights movement and explains how their individual stories converge with the arc of God’s great redemptive narrative, i suspect that i might learn something about how my story can be completely superseded by, yet play a significant part in, the divine drama. i would love for someone to read this book with me so that we can engage in meaningful conversation about it.
here are a couple of quotes from the first chapter that i found particularly interesting:
“american Christians can blame secularists for many things but surely not for the trivialization of faith in the modern world: christians in north america have surpassed all competitors in that booming business. our patriotism has become a cult of self-worship consecrated by court prophets robed in pinstripe suits. forgetting the difference between discipleship and patriotism, the God most Americans trust is a simulacrum of the holy and transcendent God, a reification of the american way of life. ‘the church has an obligation not to join in the incantation of political slogans in the concoction of pseudo-events,” thomas merton wrote in his 198 book, violence and faith, ‘but to cut clear through the ambiguity of both slogans and events by her simplicity and her love’” (marsh, the beloved community, pg. 7).
“while the (civil rights) movement is often celebrated in the public sphere as a great civics lesson of a nation’s common hopes, it teaches us equally important and urgent lessons about the integrity of our differences. the black churches of the civil rights movement did not relinquish their specific theological commitments when student volunteers arrived, many of whom were not christian, but they found ways of including new friends in their worship without erasing the real differences between them” (ibid, pg. 6).
i hope that a couple of you accept my invitation to read this book with me and enter into a bit of dialogue about its major themes. expect to see more marsh quotations in the near future.