A thoughtful, well-argued defense of the central role of peacemaking in the lives of Christians.

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STORY-FORMED PATHWAYS TO PEACE

A debut religion book calls for modern peace through a reflection of Scriptures and Christian traditions.

Reimer, the co-founder and former director of Fresno Pacific University’s Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies, analyzes the major stories found in Genesis and the New Testament Gospels through the lens of violence and peacemaking. According to the author, shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, is at the center of Abrahamic religions, even while many Jews, Christians, and Muslims since Cain’s murder of Abel have failed to live up to that guiding principle. Reimer sees aggression, including domestic abuse and genocide, as a central aspect of the human experience from Genesis through the 21st century. Most chapters begin with the juxtaposition of biblical stories of brutality with contemporary news headlines that demonstrate humanity’s embrace of bloodshed to solve disputes. While emphasizing this savage history, the book’s focus lies not on the depravity of humanity, but rather on finding guidance in Scriptures to discover pathways to peace in modern times. Though Cain killed Abel, another figure in Genesis, Jacob, eventually reconciled with his twin brother, Esau. Similarly, Joseph also made peace with his brothers, who sold him into slavery. This theme of reconciliation, even in situations where human nature would justify fierce, retributive justice, extends through the Gospels and Jesus’ blessing of the peacemakers. In this cogent book, Reimer’s tone is both scholarly and accessible. While he approaches the topic as a Christian, he respectfully includes complementary Jewish and Muslim perspectives on hostility and tranquility. As someone who grew up in the pacifist tradition of Mennonites and is affiliated with a Mennonite university, Reimer is distinctly steeped in that religion’s support of nonviolence and skepticism of organized government. In a work centered on cruelty and conflicts, there is a notable omission of a meaningful discussion, even a refutation, of the alternate Christian tradition of a “just war.” This would have led to an examination of Christians from other backgrounds who traditionally defend the use of force in certain situations.

A thoughtful, well-argued defense of the central role of peacemaking in the lives of Christians.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984550-45-3

Page Count: 188

Publisher: XlibrisUS

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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