It’s that time of year when libraries, news organizations, book stores and schools publish lists of recommended “summer reads.” In that same spirit, I wanted to share with the whole church some of the books that our mission committee members have added to their summer reading lists, and the reading that I am doing for the fall.
The BMPC Outreach Committee, which works with and funds our mission partners in Greater Philadelphia, will spend the summer reading Matthew Desmond’s new book, Poverty, by America. Desmond, a professor of sociology at Princeton University, writes about the ways that the systems that have been created to assist the poor rarely achieve their purpose. Desmond asks his readers to think differently about why in such a wealthy country so many of our neighbors are unable to overcome the plight of poverty.
The Worldwide Ministries Council will spend the summer reading Sarah Augustine’s new book, The Land is Not Empty: Following Jesus in Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery. A descendent of the Pueblo people, Augustine examines the authority that the Christian church of the 15th century gave explorers to claim foreign lands for the sake of spreading the faith. Interwoven in her examination of the ways that Christian mission impacted indigenous people are the ways that the legacy of mission also impacted the environment. This book was recommended by our mission partner Jed Koball who works in Peru with indigenous communities fighting against pollution created by heavy metal mining.
In preparation for classes this fall, I also am reading two books the whole congregation will be invited to read in the coming months:
We are excited to welcome the Rev. Scott Black Johnston, pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, as our Theologian in Residence on October 28-29. In 2022 Scott published a collection of his recent sermons in the book, Elusive Grace: Loving Your Enemies While Striving for God’s Justice. A variety of opportunities to read and discuss this book will be offered in the fall. If you want to purchase your own copy of Elusive Grace to read this summer, you may reserve one at this link: https://bit.ly/BMPCBookpickup
Finally, this past year William Yoo, Columbia Theological Seminary’s Professor of American Religious and Cultural History, published what is considered the definitive work on the historical connections between slavery and the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Entitled What Kind of Christianity, Yoo demonstrates how a better understanding of our history is essential to the work we are called to do as Presbyterians to fight against racial injustice today. This fall I will be teaching a three-week class on Monday evenings for those interested in learning about and discussing the implications of the history of our tradition.
If you have books you are reading this summer that are helping you understand the world and your faith in new ways, I would love to hear about them. And if you are looking for even more books to read this summer, be sure to check out our Converse Library catalog online or stop by the church to browse the collection and additional recommended readings in person.