Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice’s book balances itself between being a self-help book and theological abstract. The result is a book which reflects on the issue of reconciliation with some depth, but also shows how those reflections are played out in the world.
While individual reconciliation is essential, this books focuses more on communities which have experienced some severe trauma. Once we accept God’s gift of reconciliation we are called on to heal the brokenness of those around us. Our community. And our community extends throughout the world.
It is a work grounded in the Christian faith and serves as a call to Christians. Those not professing such a faith may find hope for what Christianity can offer in a world where the errors of professed Christians are all too apparent. What you will not find is a call to hug and forgive one another, join hands and raise our unified voices in an a capella version of “Amazing Grace,” or simply accept the losses of life as God’s Will.
Their most powerful and unusual call is to one of lament. Lament is a great word and one we so rarely hear or employ today. They quote the gospel of Matthew, in turn quoting from the prophet Jeremiah, “A voice is heard in Ramah/ Lamentation and bitter weeping/ Rachel is weeping for her children;/ She refuses to be comforted for her children,/ Because they are no more.”
Rachel refuses to be comforted and her honest response builds the ground for reconciliation. As the author’s say, “Lament calls us into a fundamental journey of transformation.” They continue by saying this journey requires us “to unlearn three things: speed, distance and innocence.” The unlearning of speed is what distinguishes much of this book from others. We like quick answers, ten steps to a solution, five things to do tomorrow. But they offer no easy answers, but they do offer answers. We must engage the pain of the past and be converted into a new way of thinking, one which reflects the radicalness of the Christian message. We must engage in this work with communities since only with others can we reflect God’s Kingdom.
Katongole and Rice are cofounders of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School. If you want to read more about their work you can visit their website.
Babe Ruth: Legendary Slugger
Sometimes I wonder if reading “young adult” books should count in my reading list, but since they take a little time I’ve decided to list them. I read along with my 12-year-old (in my head he is saying “I’m almost 13”) who fits under the reluctant reader heading. So he picked this book to read and I’m enough of a sport fan to be interested as well. The challenge for the writer, David Fischer, is that Babe Ruth hardly lead a life we would hold up as a moral standard for our children — a lot of drinking, a lot of women (both pre-marriage and during marriage), a little education, and a rather abrasive personality. Fischer does not hide these facts, but he does not slam the reader with them over and over. What he does focus on is Ruth’s early life with his family, his time at St. Mary’s, and his entry into professional baseball. The book then takes off and focuses on Ruth’s incredible baseball career, from top pitcher to top hitter, and shows his impact in the game. The book also includes some interesting sidebars which explain about other topics not directly tied to his life.
When my son could keep focused he took it in well, but just for the record — he did not do so good on the oral quiz I gave him! He has new incentives to try again and now we are reading about Jessie Owens.
I do not “count” children’s books in my listing and I do read plenty of children’s books since my youngest is 6. But if for some reason you have snuck through life without Winnie the Pooh stories, let me say I’m having fun reading (again) the original stories to my little boy. More importantly, he is loving them as well. Tonight we hunt for a Heffalump!