On the Lived Theology Reading List: Baptized in Blood

Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865–1920, by Charles Reagan WilsonThe Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865–1920

In Baptized in Blood, Charles Reagan Wilson has created a significant and well-written study of the South’s civil religion, one of two public faiths in America. Wilson shows how in the wake of the Civil War, southerners adopted the Lost Cause as a way to preserve their cultural identity by blending Christian rhetoric and symbols with the rhetoric and imagery of Confederate tradition.

A “civil religion” has been defined as the religious dimension of a people that enables them to understand a historical experience in transcendent terms. The defeat of the Confederacy threw into question the South’s relationship to God; it was interpreted in part as a God-given trial, whereby suffering and pain would lead Southerners to greater virtue and strength and even prepare them for future crusades. The Lost Cause movement was an organized effort to preserve the memory of the Confederacy, but Wilson also argues that the Lost Cause was an authentic expression of religion, and was celebrated and perpetuated with its own rituals, mythology, and theology.

In examining the role of civil religion in the cult of the military, in the New South ideology, and in the spirit of the Lost Cause colleges, as well as in other aspects, Wilson demonstrates effectively how the religion of the Lost Cause became the institutional embodiment of the South’s tragic experience.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“This study merits reading not only because it explores the delicate fusion of religious and cultural forces, but also because of the careful research which undergirds its arguments.”—Journal of the American Academy of Religion

“If the South cannot escape its history, perhaps it is because it does not want to. Wilson’s magnificent book on the religion of the Lost Cause drives that point home forcefully. . . . He skillfully weaves together the strands of thought that produced the Lost Cause and shows that evangelical ministers had a large hand in the process.”—Theology Today

“Destined to be the definitive essay on the relation between religion and southern regional patriotism.”—Journal of Southern History

For more information on the publication, click here.

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Infected Christianity

Infected Christianity: A Study of Modern Racism, by Alan DaviesA Study of Modern Racism

In Infected Christianity, Alan Davies focuses on five modern “Christs” to examine how the Christian church has succumbed to the infection of racist ideas. Davies shows that the myths of race and nation, innocent in themselves, have evolved into “sacred” myths and histories which not only infected Christianity but, in the case of Germany and South Africa, served to legitimize ruling racist elites.

The Germanic Christ is discussed first and most extensively. French Roman-Catholic racism is next, particularly its role in the Third Republic, through discussion of the “Latin” Christ. Davies’s study of the Anglo-Saxon Christ covers both English and American expressions of racism and their links to imperialism, which is followed by a discussion of Afrikaner racism, and an exploration of black nationalism in the United States and its advocacy of a black Christ.

In this book, Davies traces the course of racism to its roots in the religious, cultural, and intellectual history of western civilization and to its culmination in the formation of the Aryan myth – the great race myth of white Europeans.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“A succinct and significant overview of the subject…such an overview would be welcomed by a mainline Christian readership…For secular readers of social history…it could provide an honest and interesting glimpse into the ongoing struggle between Christianity and culture.” D.J. Hall, Department of Religious Studies, McGill University

For more information on the publication, click here.

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Mule Train

The Mule Train: A Journey of Hope Remembered, by Roland L. FreemanA Journey of Hope Remembered

The Mule Train, about 150 people in twenty mule-drawn wagons from Marks, Mississippi, was determined to make the nation aware of the plight of America’s poor. This was the start of the Poor People’s Campaign, created by Dr. King shortly before he was assassinated. Both The Mule Train and its origin is now mostly forgotten, but The Mule Train commemorates it in this collection of photographs by Roland Freeman and others accompanied by excerpts from local and national newspapers.

An article from NPR details how Dr. King first got the idea for The Mule Train:

“Edelman [Children’s Defense Fund founder] recalls King touring a Head Start program in Marks that lost its funding.

‘He saw a teacher, you know, carve up an apple and give it to about eight kids — a slice each — and he was in tears,’ she says. ‘He had to leave the center.’

Edelman brought members of Congress, including Sen. Robert Kennedy, to see the deprivation firsthand, but got little traction on poverty programs. She says Kennedy encouraged her to get King to put more focus on the issue. She says he loved the idea.

‘I told him that I’d just seen Robert Kennedy and he had seen the hunger of children in Marks,’ Edelman says. ‘Kennedy said bring the poor to Washington and he lit up like a lightbulb.’

From there King moved forward on organizing the Poor People’s Campaign.

‘The vision was that this mule train would go all the way from Marks Miss., the poorest hamlet in the poorest state of the country, all the way to Washington,’ says Georgetown University law professor Sheryll Cashin. ‘The mule and the covered wagons as a symbolic message of the black sharecropper.'”

To read the entire article, click here. For more information on the publication, click here.

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Speeches of Fannie Lou Hamer

The Speeches of Fannie Lou Hamer: To Tell It Like It Is, edited by Maegan Parker Brooks and Davis W. HouckTo Tell It Like It Is

Many people know about Fannie Lou Hamer’s impassioned speech delivered at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, but far fewer people are familiar with the speeches Hamer delivered at the 1968 and 1972 conventions, to say nothing of addresses she gave closer to home, or with Malcolm X in Harlem, or even at the founding of the National Women’s Political Caucus. The Speeches of Fannie Lou Hamer, edited by  is a collection of twenty-one of Hamer’s most important speeches and testimonies which are meant to highlight her skill as an orator in oft-overlooked situations.

This book includes speeches from many different parts of Hamer’s fifteen year career as an activist, including her responses to events such as a Vietnam War Moratorium Rally in Berkeley, California, and a summons to testify in a Mississippi courtroom. The speeches in this book are coupled with with brief critical descriptions that place Hamer’s words in context, and there are additional materials within the book such as the last full-length oral history interview Hamer granted and a recent oral history interview Brooks conducted with Hamer’s daughter.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Fannie Lou Hamer lives within the pages of To Tell It Like It Is, a collection of her speeches and interviews prefaced by a short biography. Those who knew her will know her better, and those who didn’t will meet a humane, relevant, inspirational leader who can inspire us all to action right now.”—Gloria Steinem

“The single best primary source anthology available for studying the grassroots sharecropper activist turned warrior”—P. Harvey (University of Colorado at Colorado Springs), CHOICE, January 2015 issue

For more information on the publication, click here.

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Freedom Schools

The Freedom Schools: Student Activists in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, by Jon N. HaleStudent Activists in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement

In The Freedom Schools, Jon N. Hale discusses the Mississippi Freedom Schools, which were  formed during 1964 as part of the Mississippi Freedom Summer. These schools were started by educators and activists to provide an alternative education for African American students that would facilitate student activism and participatory democracy, and had a crucial role in the civil rights movement as well as the development of progressive education in the United States as a whole. Forming a political network, the Freedom Schools taught students how, when, and where to engage politically, shaping activists who trained others to challenge inequality.

This book is based on dozens of first-time interviews with former Freedom School students and teachers, and shows the side of the civil rights movement that is often looked over in favor of the stories of national leadership or college protesters. Students and teachers that attended the schools speak eloquently about the principles that informed their practice and the influence that the Freedom School curriculum has had on education, as well as offering key strategies for further integrating the American school system and politically engaging today’s youth.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Jon N. Hale’s work hits the mark! It is accurate and timely in refocusing our attention on the profound power of African American youth and education. The activists and young learners who made the Freedom Schools possible have greatly gone unsung. In the midst of imminent danger, they learned and experienced democracy while illustrating the efficacy of community participation in education. Hale rightly places them at the forefront of the struggle for freedom. His book reminds us of those who saved the nation’s soul.” — Stefan M. Bradley, author of Harlem vs. Columbia University: Black Student Power in the Late 1960s

“Hale’s groundbreaking examination of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s tireless efforts to provide free educational opportunities for Mississippi’s African American children is an often overlooked yet instrumental component of the Mississippi Freedom Summer. The Freedom Schools offers a greater understanding of the schools’ lasting legacy and the profound impact of the Freedom Schools on Mississippi’s black students as they later engaged in boycotts and school walkouts, influencing public school desegregation efforts and the civil rights movement.” — Sonya Ramsey, author of Reading, Writing, and Segregation: A Century of Black Women Teachers in Nashville

For more information on the publication, click here.

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: The World Made Otherwise

The World Made Otherwise: Sustaining Humanity in a Threatened World, by Timothy GorringeSustaining Humanity in a Threatened World

In The World Made Otherwise, acclaimed author Timothy Gorringe tackles the topic of climate change, which many natural scientists believe will bring civilizational collapse. Gorringe argues that behind this threat is a commitment to false values, embodied in our political, economic, and farming systems. He points out that millions of people the world over—perhaps the majority—are committed to alternative values and practices. In this book, Gorringe explores how these values, already foreshadowed in people’s movements all over the world, can produce different political and economic realities which can underwrite a safe and prosperous future for all.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Over the last several decades, Timothy Gorringe has established himself as an indispensable theological guide in matters relating to culture and the built and natural environments. In The World Made Otherwise, he shows how theological insights can help us address what is likely the most pressing, planetary issue of our time—creating societies, economies, and infrastructures that will be livable and just and, dare we hope, even beautiful.”—Norman Wirzba, Duke Divinity School

“In this deeply researched and finely crafted volume Tim Gorringe presents the ecological crisis above all as a moral crisis. Gorringe develops an insightful ecological reading of the modern revival of virtue ethics, and an investigation of its implications for the core practices of human life—including building, economics, food growing and politics . . . This is interdisciplinary moral theology of a high order, reflecting the prophetic insight and wisdom of one of Britain’s finest theologians who is also a vegetable gardener, beekeeper, and shepherd.”—Michael Northcott, University of Heidelberg, Seminar of Practical Theology

For more information on the publication, click here.

Timothy Gorringe is St. Luke’s Professor of Theological Studies at the University of Exeter, where his academic interests focus on the interrelation between theology, social science, art and politics.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Myths America Lives By

Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories That Give Us Meaning, by Richard T. HughesWhite Supremacy and the Stories That Give Us Meaning

In this revised second edition of Myths America Lives By, Richard T. Hughes delves anew into the thought of black critics dissatisfied with America’s betrayal of its foundational beliefs. Hughes posits that six myths lie at the heart of the American experience. Taken as aspirational, four of those myths remind us of our noblest ideals, challenging us to realize our nation’s promise while galvanizing the sense of hope and unity we need to reach our goals. But when these myths are misused, they allow for illusions of innocence that fly in the face of white supremacy, the primal American myth that stands at the heart of all the others.

Speaking for people often marginalized in American life, prominent thinkers such as  Malcolm X, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Martin Luther King Jr. offer important perspectives on African American experiences, the pervasiveness of white supremacy, and the ways America can embrace, and deliver on, its egalitarian promise.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Richard Hughes’ Myths America Lives By was already required reading when it was released back in the pre-Trump era. With this update of his lacerating critique of the sordidness of American civil religion and other destructive myths, Hughes now indicts white supremacy as the foundational myth providing the most accelerant to those other myths that have burned through our history. Richard Hughes thinks hard and listens even harder to the historians, the scholars and, most of all, the prophets who understood the malignancy of white supremacy long before he did. The result is Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories that Gives Us Meaning. Once again, Hughes’ willingness to tell the truth about the myths we live by has put us all in his debt.”—Tony Norman, columnist, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“A fearless, well-researched, searing critique that shatters the underpinnings of white racial superiority in America and abroad.”—Joseph Robinson Jr., president, Martin Luther King Leadership Development Institute

“Myths America Lives By is prophetic–not merely in the predictive sense, so evident in the first edition, but in the far more consequential sense of prophecy as calling us to repentance and to our better selves. This is a very fine book, offering both a searing critique and a summons to embrace our common humanity.”—Randall Balmer, author of Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter

For more information on the publication, click here.

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: I Must Resist

I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters, by Bayard RustinBayard Rustin’s Life in Letters

I Must Resist is a collection of letters written by Rustin himself, giving a glimpse into the mind of one of the most important civil rights organizers of the era. Rustin, a master strategist and tireless activist, is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States. He brought Gandhi’s protest techniques to the American civil rights movement and played a deeply influential role in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to mold him into an international symbol of nonviolence. Despite these achievements, Rustin often remained in the background. He was silenced, threatened, arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and fired from important leadership positions, largely because he was an openly gay man in a fiercely homophobic era.

Although Rustin was often not in the spotlight, this book aims to rectify that by showing how his contributions were integral to the development of a movement. I Must Resist includes 150 of Rustin’s eloquent, impassioned letters; his correspondents include the major progressives of his day — including Eleanor Holmes Norton, A Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Ella Baker, and of course, Martin Luther King Jr.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Rustin was a life-long agitator for justice. He changed America—and the world—for the better. This collection of his letters makes his life and his passions come vividly alive, and helps restore him to history, a century after this birth. I Must Resist makes for inspiring reading.”—John D’Emilio, author of Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin

“These letters–poetic, incisive, passionate, and above all political in the broadest meaning of the word–span almost four decades not only of Bayard Rustin’s life but of the emotional and spiritual life of America. There is hardly a social justice movement during this time in which Rustin was not involved from pacifism to ending poverty to battles for sexual freedom. Michael Long’s brilliant editing has created a compelling historical narrative and reading these letters is to be witness to the ever-evolving conscience that guides our country’s endangered, but surviving, commitment to freedom.”—Michael Bronksi, author of A Queer History of the United States

“A vital addition to the history of the civil rights movement by an exceptionally determined, vital and creative force who was invaluable to Martin Luther King Jr and A. Philip Randolph among many others.”—Nat Hentoff

For more information on the publication, click here.

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Laughing at the Devil

Laughing at the Devil: Seeing the World with Julian of Norwich, by Amy Laura HallSeeing the World with Julian of Norwich

In Laughing at the Devil, Amy Laura Hall invites people to see the world through the eyes of a medieval visionary now known as Julian of Norwich, believed to be the first woman to have written a book in English. Although we don’t know much about Julian personally (we don’t even know her given name, because she became known by the name of the church she lived in), she left behind a wealth of writings to study.

Julian “saw our Lord scorn [the Devil’s] wickedness” and noted that “he wants us to do the same.” In this impassioned, analytic, and irreverent book, Amy Laura Hall emphasizes Julian’s call to scorn the Devil. Julian of Norwich envisioned courage during a time of fear, and Laughing at the Devil describes how she transformed a setting of dread into one of hope, solidarity, and resistance.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Laughing at the Devil with these two exceedingly clear-eyed women—Julian of Norwich and Amy Laura Hall—is compelling, enlightening, and joyous, all in one. The two have created texts, each for their own time, that together bear witness, at points defiant, at points mischievous, to a profoundly God-sustained world. What a wonderful, grace-filled vision.” — Teresa Berger, author of @ Worship: Liturgical Practices in Digital Worlds

“Amy Laura Hall’s masterful Laughing at the Devil is a rewarding joy to read, at once a profound dialogue with the great mystic Julian of Norwich, and a beautiful, raw, funny, audacious, and insightful invitation to the contemporary audience. We laugh with Hall and Julian, and we too yearn to pull closer to God not through fear and trembling, but through an aching heart bursting open with joy. This is the kind of raw, gritty, grounded, and real spiritual exploration that calls to all Christians, and to all people of faith. Strongly recommended!” — Omid Safi, author of Radical Love: Teachings from the Islamic Mystical Tradition

“You might not expect to find references to Game of Thrones, West Texas, barfing bears, divorce, and Machiavelli in a book on Julian of Norwich, but you will find all these and much more in this volume. Julian of Norwich is a most unusual theologian, and Amy Laura Hall has given us a most unusual book: it is engaging and illuminating, a personal, passionate, and political reflection on and with Julian.” — Karen Kilby, coeditor of The Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology

For more information on the publication, click here.

Amy Laura Hall is an associate professor of Christian ethics at Duke Divinity School and an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Love Without Limits

Love Without Limits: Jesus' Radical Vision for Love with No Exceptions, by Jacqueline BussieJesus’ Radical Vision for Love with No Exceptions

In Love Without Limits, Jacqueline Bussie imparts practical solutions for people of faith who yearn to love across division and difference in these troubled times. Every day, millions of people lament the loss of civility, respect, and hope, and they wonder if it’s possible to cultivate a love big enough to overthrow hate and heal our hurts. Bussie says yes, it is possible, and shows how to do it in this engaging book about life and love. Through poignant personal memoir, engaging theological reflection, inspiring true stories of boundary-busting friendships, creative readings of scripture, and surprising shout-outs to some of love’s unsung heroes, Bussie challenges readers to answer God’s call to practice a love so deep, it subverts the social order; so radical, it scandalizes the powerful; so vast, it excludes no one. She urges readers to widen love’s wingspan and to love as God loves–without limits or exceptions.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“If you believe, as I do, that love is the heart of Jesus’ message and should be the point of the Christian life, then you’ll be surprised to see how few books there are that aim specifically to help you become a better practitioner of love. And you’ll be thrilled when a book like this comes along—super well-written, really inspiring and practical, deeply engaged with scripture, and joyfully celebrating the primacy of love.”—Brian D. McLaren, author of The Great Spiritual Migration

“This is a book about love, but not just any love. It’s about cosmic love, deep-faith love, break-down-walls love. Every page pulses with that same radical love. Read it and let the contents pour into you and make you better.”—Eboo Patel, author of Acts of Faith

Love Without Limits is more than a book; it is a profound and witty guide to a way of life—no, not just a way of life, but the way of life Jesus outlined for us in his life and teachings, if we would only pay attention. Over and over again this gracious book reminds us that “love without limits” is not only our goal, but is possible if we have the courage to attempt it and to pay, if necessary, the price. I love this book. It has become part of me.”—Anthony S. Abbot, author of The Angel Dialogues and winner of the North Carolina Award for Literature

For more information on the publication, click here.

Jacqueline Bussie is a professor of religion at Concordia College and is the director of the Forum on Faith and Life.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.