NO HIDING PLACE by Cecil Williams


Empowerment and Recovery for Our Troubled Communities
by & illustrated by
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 How a community inspired by faith can combat crack use, sexual abuse, and other social woes, by the ``Minister of Liberation'' of San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church. In his autobiography, I'm Alive! (1980), Williams described his childhood (highlight: a battle at age ten with ``aliens,'' embodiment of his own alienation) and the early years of Glide, known for its liberal, multiracial, sometimes pop-star congregation. Here, he sketches in the same ground, but now as a foundation for the amazing tale of how Glide has saved hundreds of addicts from extinction. ``The true church,'' he says, ``stays on the edge of life where the real moans and groans are.'' Glide's rescues began with a march by Williams and his ``posse of lovers'' on Valencia Gardens, the worst project in the city. Soon, the minister worked out a ``spirituality of recovery'' that rejects AA's confession of powerlessness in favor of the belief that ``you have power but you are not the ultimate power.'' Add intense community involvement, cultural pride (Williams promotes Afrocentrism heavily), self-reliance, religious storytelling (lots of New Testament material in modern idiom), and job-training, and you have a prescription for salvation. Williams's style can irritate: He loves slogans (``It's not black to smoke crack''), catchy titles (therapy groups have names like ``African Queens Revisited''), recovery-movement clichÇs (we must ``reclaim'' our lives by breaking ``dysfunctional cycles''). He also likes to yak about himself, and dotes on visiting celebrities (Oprah takes a bow). On the other hand, Williams shows real grit in describing the problems of his kids (drug addiction) and wife (incest). And the bottom line is: His method works--as attested to by the many first-person accounts here by recovering addicts. An appealing, if hyped-up, primer for grass-roots social and moral renewal. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-06-250967-5
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1992