- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Soft Skull Press; Original edition (June 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1593762348
- ISBN-13: 978-1593762346
- Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #677,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice Original Edition
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About the Author
Robert Jensen is an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism, where he teaches courses in media law, ethics, and politics. Jensen also serves as the director of the universitys Senior Fellows Honors Program of the College of Communication. Since joining the UT faculty in 1992, Jensen has published four critical books on media and power; Getting Off; Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007); The Heart of Whiteness; Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (City Lights, 2005); Citizens of the Empire; The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (City Lights, 2004); and Writing Dissent; Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang, 2002). In addition to these texts, Jensen writes for both the alternative and mainstream popular media, with opinion and analytic pieces on politics, power, and race appearing in papers across the country. He has appeared on-air at FOX, MSNBC, and CNN, and numerous community and commercial radio stations in Los Angeles, New York, Berkeley, and Houston. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I make this disclaimer right up front. I love the writing of Robert Jensen and I only write reviews on books that I have a passion for. Robert Jensen best epitomizes a journalist who understands the power of a civic press that is so essential to democratic governing.
In ALL MY BONES SHAKE, The "doubting Thomas" Robert Jenson is on to something. Jenson senses there is something about the powerful prophetic message and the potential of personal transformation and action in the Christian community.
So out of curiosity, Jenson joined a church for the first time since early adulthood. To me, Robert Jensen, as a writer and speaker is doing his part to bring a much needed maturity to Christianity. Robert Jensen is a severe critic of corporate capitalism and much of his book addresses the abuses of global corporate capitalism. I need not belabor the point but merely to say that Jenson concludes that capitalism is anti-democratic and unsustainable.
What I find most valuable are his thoughts on the prophetic imagination and the need for the coming together of loving communities or small groups of like minded people for self reflection and social action.
In reading Robert Jensen, it is very apparent that he has incredible social insight, compassion and much spiritual discernment for our human society. He is filled with the Holy Spirit although he does not believe in the divinity of Christ. I quote Jensen: "For me, Christianity--or any other religion--can be the basis for courage only if we understand God as being within us all, giving us a source of power with us, rather than outside of us". What we are experiencing in the world is a conflict between the power over us and the power within ourselves for human liberation.
Robert Jenson is very reflective of our troubling times and he states that we are at a moment when leaders cannot help us, because we need to go deeper than leadership can take us. We are heading into new territory for which old models of movements and politics are insufficient. Our political and religious leaders are struggling to understand the direction we should be moving, just like the rest of us.
Please allow me to quote the following important paragraphs: "When traditional political and/or theological leadership fails, it's tempting to want to turn to a prophet. But that too would be a mistake. This is a moment that cries not for a prophet but for prophets. It is time to recognize that we all must strive to be prophets now. It is time for each of us to take responsibility for speaking in the prophetic voice."
"We should understand the prophetic as calling out of injustice, the willingness not only to confront the abuses of the powerful but to acknowledge our own complicity, To speak prophetically requires us first to see honestly--both how our world is structured by illegitimate authority that causes suffering beyond the telling, and how we who live in the privileged part of the world are implicated in that suffering."
"To speak prophetically is to refuse to shrink from what we discover about the injustice of the world. It is to name the wars of empire as unjust; to name an economic system that leaves half the world in abject poverty as unjust; to name the dominance of men, of heterosexuals, of white people as unjust. And it is to name the human destruction of Creation as our most profound failure in our time on the planet. At the same time, to speak prophetically is to refuse to shrink from our own place in these systems. We must confront the powers that be as ourselves."
Jensen points out how the people who profit from war are quick to support it; how the politicians stand by in silence rather than confront pro-war constituents; how journalists ignore their skeptical instincts and beat the drums of war; how Americans can sit back and take no action; how the antiwar movement failed to find an effective strategy; and how we Americans live in an affluent society made possible by the power of American empire.
This all points to the magnitude of the struggle for radical change in the United States. To Jensen, the answer cannot come through religion alone or through individual action. It must be political and pursued through political organizing. We must come together and face the enormous obstacles in the way of deeply entrenched systems.
Jensen raises the point that American society worships too many false gods and this is the cause of broken communities. To quote Jensen, "these are the institutions created beyond the level of community, whose basic function is almost always to control those communities, aggrandizing the power of some group of elites. Beyond our communities are the bureaucratic institutions of church, corporation, and nation states. These are false gods, not because nothing good ever happens within them but because when we submit to the interests of these institutions--which means the interests of the small number of people who direct them--ordinary people within communities and the nonhuman world tend to suffer. These institutions of the false gods are not rooted in our evolutionary history, not do they embody universal principles. They are vehicles for power over, and hence are inherently untrustworthy".
Robert Jensen challenges the reader in that more is demanded of us who are living the "good life" as a direct result of a violent imperial history. "If we are serious about our stated principles and the faith we claim to hold, we are obligated to correct those past injustices and work against the ongoing evils perpetrated by our nation-state and our corporations, which deepen the injustice. That is no small task but we have the obligation to undermine the very same systems that produce the affluence that leads to so many people to
turn away from this caLL."
"Because our community exists in a world among others, love can survive and we can flourish only when we can empathize with those whom we don't love, with a moral understanding that those in the other communities are just like us. For all--no matter where or how they live--making good on our humanity must mean taking care of our own and reaching out beyond our community to others when we can."
Then Jenson makes these very powerful statements. "The task is to seek the mystery through engagement with our local communities, remembering that our foundational sense of connection to the world comes through local connections---it is those local connections that remind us those other communities exist around us."
Robert Jensen theory is that we need a new sense community to overcome the false gods of our culture that so shape our lives and outlooks. "One of the sources of that communal spirit can be Christianity, but that will require a New Communion of spirit that far exceeds church ritual. Christianity must step away from the systems that produce the destruction and imagine a just and sustainable life in meaningful community. The only hope is to recognize there are no solutions within these power-over systems and to begin the painful work of imagining a new way with no guarantee of success."
Robert Jensen warns us that "Global realities no longer allow us to pretend. We live amidst cascading crises that demand not further attempts at industrial heroism to solve problems, but a recognition that the problem is in systems and structures we have created, The problem is rooted in the kinds of human beings we have become in a power-over world."
To Jensen, "Technological fundamentalists dream of illusionary high-technology and high energy solutions that they imagine will allow us to continue to consume, while economic and national fundamentalists tell us we owe nothing to the third world other than to encourage them to dream one day becoming consumers, too.. This is our ironic state of existence; though drastic action is more necessary than ever, the fundamentalists digging in to try and ignore reality and abandon moral obligations. Those powers are doomed to fail."
My only disappointment with "ALL MY BONES SHAKE" is that Jensen never specifically refers to the spiritual dynamics of democracy that has been suppressed by a materialistic culture. It is a subject rarely written about which I addressed in my recently published book: CAPITALISM, DEMOCRACY AND EMERGING CHRISTIANITY. To me, democracy is as much a practice of the human spirit as in the practice of religion, but without the threat of theocracy. It is my conviction that Christian Americans need to join forces with honest participatory democracy in order to bring about much needed social change.. This by no means should be considered an encroachment of theocracy but a synthesis for a higher social consciousness that can lead to radical social change
Jensen was raised in the Presbyterian church, but seems to have hated every minute of it, and was alienated from organized religion for at least 20 years. But he is drawn back to religion when the pastor of a Presbyterian church in Austin, TX (where he lives) invites him to attend a service and deliver a sermon. Jensen finds himself transformed by the experience, and realizes that being a member of a religious congregation brings a sense of transcendence to his life that had been missing.
I would recommend this book highly to two audiences: those for whom religion has not been part of their life, but might be thinking about establishing some connection to a faith community; and members of faith communities who are looking to recruit new members, and want to understand the ways that a "seeker" wants to understand (and may be intimidated by) aspects of their religion's established dogma.
One other possible "caveat" to readers: Jensen is a writer with decidedly left-of-center political views (which was no surprise to me, as I've been reading his other books and essays for years). His politics -- which he discusses at some length -- may not be yours, but I think that even if you disagree with some of his views, you will still find "All My Bones Shake" an illuminating narrative of how one thoughtful, committed person works to find a place for religious faith in his life.
Jensen has given me some possible answers and definitely generated a vibrant internal conversation. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in discovering a path to rational, balanced, humanistic spirituality.