Recommended by Dr. Laura Levens, Assistant Professor of Christian Mission
Jesus and the Disinherited, by Howard Thurman
Paperback: 124 pages
Publisher: Beacon Press; Reprint edition (November 30, 1996)
This book is a masterpiece and an important classic in theology and social justice from the Black Church tradition. Thurman’s writing is accessibly poetic and compassionate toward anyone “who stands with his back against the wall.” “The poor, the disinherited, the downtrodden” of the world and his primary audience. Counting himself one of the disinherited, Thurman enters their worldview and experience to speak of how Christianity offers to meet their own needs. Thurman demonstrates how Jesus of Nazereth was himself a disinherited person within the Roman Empire, and how Jesus’ message speaks directly to the “hounds of hell” that dog the steps of the poor as they navigate an oppressive and violent world. Thurman acknowledges the more secure, respectable, white Christians as a secondary audience, and includes pointed remarks on the perilous nature of maintaining oppression even while attempting to minister to those in need.
Recommended by Dr. Mark Medley, Associate Professor of Theology
Kelly Brown Douglas, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Orbis Books (May 10, 2015)
Righteous anger, grief and sorrow, and a thirst and hope for God’s justice motivates Kelly Brown Douglas to ask, “Do Black Lives Really Matter?” This question recognizes that the present time of crisis in the black community is a kairos moment. In her prophetic and eloquent book, Brown Douglas explores the historical, cultural, and religious narratives and forces that have birthed and sustained our racialized, “stand your ground” culture. She also shows us how the prophetic black tradition testifies to where God is and what God is saying in a stand-your-ground time. Brown Douglas says her “book is my refusal to be consoled until the justice that is God’s is made real in the world.” She encourages a new moral imagination for this kairos moment. Toward that end, Brown Douglas invites the reader to engage in the urgent soul-searching needed if our country is to be a safer place for black bodies and a land where the violent enforcement of white privilege is no longer acceptable.
1. Why are bodies of black men and women so easily perceived as a threat?
2. Where was God when Trayvon Martin was slain?
3. How will you be summonsed out of Christian quietism to public advocacy for racial justice in our time?