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Divine Rebels: American Christian Activists for Social Justice Paperback – May 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (May 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569762643
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569762646
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,219,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Divine Rebels offers a much-needed corrective to the wrathful voices on the Religious Right by showcasing the underreported heroism of politically progressive Christians who reject power and privilege in favor of compassion and reconciliation." —Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking



"With a journalist’s eye for the interesting and an historian’s attention to context, Deena Guzder tells the under-reported story of America’s faith-based social justice movement after Martin Luther King, Jr. These are the lives of people I’ve learned from, people I love. What a gift to read their stories told so well."—Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author, activist, and new monastic


"[A] learned, readable, and immensely important work of history, journalism, and advocacy." —Samuel G. Freedman, author of Upon This Rock



"[Divine Rebels] is a timely and important account of American Christian activists deeply committed to both their faith and to a better world here and now. . . . They are models for everyone who has ever wondered how personal faith relates to the injustice of the world. I highly recommend this book." —Sami Rasouli, human rights activist and director of the Muslim Peacemaker Teams



"[Divine Rebels] is the perfect blend of inspiration and challenging social commentary."—U.S. Catholic


"The book is the perfect blend of inspiration and challenging social commentary."—U.S. Catholic Magazine
 


"Guzder's first-person reporting animates her prose without obscuring her subject"
Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Deena Guzder is an independent journalist who has reported on human rights across the globe. Her work has appeared in Time, Mother Jones, Common Dreams, National Geographic, Washington Post, Ms. magazine, and elsewhere. She holds advanced degrees in journalism and international affairs from Columbia University.


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Customer Reviews

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I find their stories inspirational and hopeful.
Mr. Mambo
Richard Dawkins is my favorite and I am quick to rise to the debate when religion gets involved.
David Smith
This is the best book I've read this year thus far.
gleefan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Anita Patel on May 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
`Religion kills', religion `is a form of mental illness', `religion poisons everything' - these are some of the hyperbolic slogans put forward by the popular New Atheist movement over the last decade. However, in this meticulously researched and refreshing debut, Deena Guzder helps counter the reductionist polemic of Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens by revealing the under-reported story of progressive Christian activists in America. For secular liberals and foreign onlookers, it can often appear that `Christian activism' comprises solely of attacking abortion clinics or rallying against gay marriage - yet the voices of the religious left are often drowned out by the louder, more confrontational right as well as ignored by progressive atheists. Nevertheless, these compassionate campaigners, motivated by their faith, have pushed for social progress throughout US history, rather than hindering it - aiding Native Americans, confronting slavery and supporting gender equality movements.

Guzder profiles ten more recent individuals who, instead of proselytising, "hope to serve as God's hands and feet rather than as his mouthpiece" and who "bear no resemblance to parochial, hierarchical and exclusionary fundamentalists obsessed with determining who descends to hell." From those who achieved their vision, such as Jim Zwerg and SueZann Bosler, to those who are continuing their struggle, such as John Dear and Charlotte Keys - the famous and less well known examples selected by Guzder embody their religious convictions, disavow violence and remain inspiring examples of humility, commitment and sacrifice.

These stimulating stories have helped me to mature beyond the black-and-white rhetoric of the somewhat combative form of atheism I once held.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David Smith on October 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
Mine is a militant brand of atheism. Richard Dawkins is my favorite and I am quick to rise to the debate when religion gets involved. This book was so difficult for me because it riveted me with accounts of religious activists that I couldn't help but greatly admire. The first chapter alone made me almost cry on the subway. Twice. After spending literal weeks thinking about it, I've boiled down the intellectual change this book forced me to take.

50 years ago if you asked an American, "How do you feel about black people?" You would have gotten a lot of sweeping generalizations. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us that the only correct answer is, "It depends on the black person." Two months ago if you asked me how I felt about religious people I would have said, "A few are alright, but I think they're a little nuts." I now appreciate that the only correct answer is, "It depends on the religious person."

In fact, let's talk about religion being the opiate of the masses. How do you feel about amphetamine addicts? Well, in theory, it seems like a bad idea. But Erdosh, a hugely important titan of mathematics, was only capable of being the brilliant man he was while he was on amphetamines. I wonder if a lot of titans of social justice are only capable of doing what they do because of their religious beliefs.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tim Goodman on August 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
Forget all you thought you knew of Christian direct action - this is the People's History of religious activism. The author outlines 10 people who've effected change by being God's hands rather than his megaphone - ordinary folks who are Christians first and Americans second. People who embraced the over-arching message of scripture rather than manipulate obscure, cherry-picked verses to justify the status quo.

How can vandalising nuclear warheads be effective compared to international diplomacy? How have Christians justified breaking the law and avoided taxes? What would drive someone to set themselves alight and is it still considered non-violence? Where in the Bible does it encourage today's Christians to become eco-warriors? ...The chapters in this book mostly comprise of excellent story-telling but, rather than nodding along the (agnostic) author also challenges her subjects. As a rationalist and atheist myself, I'd be left with many questions after each profile were it not for the writer's journalistic edge. And it is this informed objectivity that - as other reviewers noted - makes this book a rallying call for progressive secularists to unite with their religious progressive counterparts.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rebel Girl on December 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
As someone who know about most of the people profiled in this book and knows a couple of them personally, I really wish I could heartily endorse it. I can't. The book is marred by so many errors in the small stuff that I came to feel I would have to fact check everything. Many of these errors are things any good editor should (would?) have caught. A sample:

Incorrect usage/spelling: On p. 99 we read "Seeking to qualm the refugees' fears of outsiders..."...err...that should be "quell" or "calm", not this hybrid, non-existent verb. This is followed on p. 100 by writing that Jim Corbett could provide "legal council". Perhaps someone could provide the author, a self-professed graduate from one of the nation's top journalism schools, Columbia University, with remedial English? Spell-check is not a substitute for old-fashioned editing.

Inconsistencies: One of the first things that leaped to my attention (perhaps because of this author's obsession with close, but not always accurate, physical description) is that the color of Fr. Roy Bourgeois' eyes changes from "blue as lapis lazuli" on p. 67 to "dove-gray" by p. 88. Prison might do that to a man, but to me it just smacks of careless "cut and paste" journalism. The author's physical descriptions are picturesque but not always correct. Mons. Oscar Romero is described as wearing "aviator glasses" (p. 65). He didn't. The late archbishop's glasses are part of the permanent collection at the Pacifist Living History Museum and can be seen on its website. On p. 138, the late Brazilian archbishop, Dom Helder Camara is described as "stocky", whereas those of us who met Camara in his later years would hardly attribute such an adjective to the diminutive and somewhat physically frail cleric.

Misleading phrases: On p.
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