June Book Reviews


The Pentecost Paradigm: Ten Strategies for Becoming a Multiracial Congregation by Jacqueline Lewis and John Janka (Westminster John Knox Press, 2018) is a timely offering for congregations who feel led to do more about the racial troubles in our culture. The book begins with this affirmation: “We think multiracial and multicultural congregations are essential to heal the fundamental divisions in our nation.” Racism and racialization are spiritual issues, which the church has great potential to impact for good. But that impact will not be accomplished without intentional focus and change for most congregations. This book provides a very usable outline, with ten specific strategies that a congregation can work through to become more diversified in its racial makeup. Are you wondering how you can get going on this journey? Try this book!

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt (Vintage Books, 2012) is not a church book. It is written by an atheist whose specialty is moral psychology from the perspective of evolutionary biology. The title got my attention and I took it with me on vacation. It is a fascinating read, delving into the depths of human psychology and how we are wired before birth with certain moral foundations that shape who we become for the rest of our lives. Those moral foundations are the same for everyone, but people come with differing measures of them. If you are strong in the moral foundations of compassion and fairness, you are wired to be a political progressive. If you are strong in the moral foundations of loyalty, authority, and sanctity, along with compassion and fairness, you are likely to be a political conservative. Likewise with religious differences. The author, though an atheist, has a deep appreciation for the role of religious institutions in the thriving of human beings and human culture. I found the book filled with insights that are directly applicable to how we understand strongly held differences of opinions between and among the people who fill our congregations, not to mention the political dynamics of our country. It was very illuminating for me, so I commend it to you if you are interested in this kind of thing.