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Divine Rebels: American Christian Activists for Social Justice Paperback – May 1, 2011
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"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
"[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
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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This is a wonderful, inspiring, challenging and frightening book, but like previous reviewer Rebel Girl says in her critical review, it's not perfect, and it could have used some editing and fact-checking. But I still give it five stars because, for one thing, there are precious few books like this. For another, this gives us the personal stories of people who have actually decided to follow Christ with everything they've got. How rare is that?
We have millions of Christians in this country who call themselves Christians and who pray and go to church and are 'good', but there are so few of us who have the guts and commitment to actually live our faith. To put ourselves on the line. To take a stand which might endanger us or alienate us from our own families and friends. Yes, the people profiled in this book are rabble-rousers, radicals, rebels and dangerous to the status quo. I admire them. I wish I had a fraction of their courage. I find their stories inspirational and hopeful.
I would hazard a guess that many of the people in this book would not be voting for the GOP. But that is only my opinion.
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.
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. By highlighting the common ground between both religious and secular leftists, this well-timed book will appeal to readers of both persuasions and hopefully help encourage them to unite against inequality, militarism, discrimination and join together in favour of social justice and a better future for all.