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AMERICAN PROPHETS

THE RELIGIOUS ROOTS OF PROGRESSIVE POLITICS AND THE ONGOING FIGHT FOR THE SOUL OF THE COUNTRY

A well-researched and timely work of journalism geared toward like-minded readers.

The role of the modern "Religious Left" in American politics.

Religion reporter Jenkins delves deeply into the origins, activities, and leadership of the Religious Left, a movement he describes as “an amorphous, ever-changing group of progressive, faith-based advocates, strategists, and political operatives.” The author highlights the widespread—though not always widely recognized—role that progressive faith communities have long held in political and social causes. Jenkins illuminates these causes through stories of individual leaders of specific movements. After an introductory chapter discussing how faith communities were essential in the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the author segues into a discussion of Barack Obama’s own expressions of faith in public discourse. He then covers a number of well-known movements from the past two decades and important leaders associated with them. Examples include the Rev. William Barber with North Carolina’s Moral Mondays, the Rev. Traci Blackmon with Black Lives Matter, and Sioux activist Chase Iron Eyes with the Standing Rock protests. Jenkins goes on to cover a number of other topics, such as the Religious Left’s role in LGBTQ activism, the influence of Roman Catholicism in the environmental movement, and interfaith organizing to support the Muslim community. Beyond providing stories of the Religious Left, Jenkins attempts to determine how it has operated in politics and society. For example, he writes, “to understand the New Sanctuary movement [which advocates for immigrants] is to understand how the Religious Left builds power through a mixture of moral arguments, liberation theology, and the art of protest.” Throughout, Jenkins analyzes as well as reports, adding further value to his work. The author has provided a contemporary history that will be useful to students of the intersection of politics and religion in our current era.

A well-researched and timely work of journalism geared toward like-minded readers.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293598-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperOne

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2020

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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THE AGE OF GRIEVANCE

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

The New York Times columnist serves up a cogent argument for shelving the grudge and sucking it up.

In 1976, Tom Wolfe described the “me decade” as a pit of mindless narcissism. A half century later, Bruni, author of Born Round and other bestselling books, calls for a renaming: “‘Me Turning Point’ would have been more accurate, because the period of time since has been a nonstop me jamboree.” Our present cultural situation, he notes, is marked by constant grievance and endless grasping. The ensuing blame game has its pros. Donald Trump, he notes, “became a victor by playing the victim, and his most impassioned oratory, such as it was, focused not on the good that he could do for others but on the bad supposedly done to him.” Bruni is an unabashed liberal, and while he places most of the worst behavior on the right—he opens with Sean Hannity’s bleating lie that the Biden administration was diverting scarce baby formula from needy Americans to illegal immigrants—he also allows that the left side of the aisle has committed its share of whining. A case in point: the silencing of a professor for showing an image of Mohammed to art students, neither religiously proscribed nor done without ample warning, but complained about by self-appointed student censors. Still, “not all grievances are created equal,” he writes. “There is January 6, 2021, and there is everything else. Attempts by leaders on the right to minimize what happened that day and lump it together with protests on the left are as ludicrous as they are dangerous.” Whether from left or right, Bruni calls for a dose of humility on the part of all: “an amalgam of kindness, openness, and silliness might be an effective solvent for grievance.”

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668016435

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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