In stressful times, we all have different ways of coping. For Wendy Besel Hahn, writer of “Bunker or Bridge” in the May issue of Sojourners, it’s books. Hahn turned to books after the 2016 election to dig into her faith — and to deal with strong emotions about the many Christians who voted differently than she did. She calls her growing book collection her “resistance library.”
I loved the idea, so I asked colleagues here at Sojourners: What books would be in your resistance library? Their top 25 suggestions are below. Use the hashtag #MyResistanceLibrary to track our reads — and share to let us know what you’d add to the list!
For models and how-to manuals, to confront the bad and build the good:
Spiritual Defiance: Building a Beloved Community of Resistance (Robin Meyers)
This Oklahoma pastor lit up the Yale lecture series when he cast “the nature of faith as a force that stands against anything and everything that engenders death and indignity.”
Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth)
If executed properly, nonviolent civil resistance is twice as effective in countering brutal injustice as armed conflict.
Watershed Discipleship: Reinhabiting Bioregional Faith and Practice (ed. by Ched Myers_
Young theologians and activists unpack the triple entendre of our “watershed historical moment of crisis,” with regard to climate change and the church.
The Moral Vision of Cesar Chavez (Frederick John Dalton)
A study of the moral, spiritual, and biblical underpinnings of Chavez’ life and work for social justice.
Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (Rebecca Solnit)
Rooted in recent movement history, this is a lyrical argument that “to hope is to give yourself to the future—and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.”
Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women & Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism (Deborah Jian Lee)
A reporter’s exploration of progressive evangelicalism and its young leaders.
To understand a central fault line in the soul of America:
Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates)
Eloquent, deep wrestling with the history and personal experience of having a black body in America.
The History of White People (Nell Irvin Painter)
A historian’s guide to the invention of race and the elevation of “whiteness.”
At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance — A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power (Danielle L. McGuire)
This book traces the history of black organizers who confronted the sexual violence inflicted by white men on black women as a weapon of Jim Crow segregation.
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America (Michael Eric Dyson)
An emergency call (heightened under the current administration) to face the truth of America’s racial divide and take concrete steps to a different future.
On God and all the prophets (spiritual, theological, and biblical resources):
The Non-Violent Cross: A Theology of Revolution and Peace (James Douglass)
This single book, when first published in 1966, converted thousands to seeing nonviolence as the center of Christian faith. When faced with the “unspeakable” we must cleave to the salvation path of sacrificial love.
Jesus and the Disinherited (Howard Thurman)
Thurman was, among other things, a spiritual adviser to several civil rights leaders. This foundational text, first published in 1949, explores what the gospel teaches about love and resistance “to those who stand, at a moment in human history, with their backs against the wall.”
Hope Abundant: Third World and Indigenous Women’s Theology (ed. by Kwok Pui-lan)
An anthology of essays by women theologians from around the world who, despite often harsh conditions, find power and hope in their faith.
Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us (Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker)
Two theologians confront traditional Christian beliefs that have been used to encourage women to stay in situations of intimate violence.
The Prophetic Imagination (Walter Bruggemann)
An inspiring study of how, in defying the “royal consciousness,” the biblical prophets were both calling out the suffering of the people and stirring people to creative action and energy in light of the ongoing and ever-new works of God.
Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes (Mitri Raheb)
The author, a Lutheran pastor and university president in Bethlehem, explores the Bible in the context of the struggles of Palestinian people in history and contemporary times.
Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times (Soong-Chan Rah)
A commentary on the book of Lamentations and reflection on the vital power of true repentance if we are to face of the sins of our churches and society.
For the power of the story (fiction):
The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
A dystopian classic exploring power, gender, and religious politics.
Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
A love story wrestling with race, identity, and national borders.
A Wrinkle in Time (Madeline L’Engle)
On the Book Riot site, Ashley Bowen-Murphy writes that this classic young adult book embodies timely lessons such as “stay angry, don’t make decisions out of fear, love radically, and keep resisting.”
Flight Behavior (Barbara Kingsolver)
Dellarobia Turnbow lives in a small Appalachian town where nothing ever happens. Until one day she glimpses the hill behind her house covered in millions of astonishing yellow and orange monarch butterflies. To Dellarobia it looks “like the inside of joy.”
For bread and verses (poetry):
The Republic of Poetry (Martín Espada)
In this republic, “the guard at the airport / will not allow you to leave the country / until you declaim a poem for her / and she says Ah! Beautiful.”
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé (Morgan Parker)
Fearless, risqué, playful—a poetry collection speaking truth about being a black woman in America.
The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme (Marge Piercy)
These earthy, passionate poems, tied to the liturgical rhythms of Judaism, elevate everyday beauty and loss.
Whereas (poems) (Layli Long Soldier)
Long Soldier is a citizen of Oglala Lakota Nation and lives in the Navajo Nation, where she teaches at Diné College. This poetry collection is an incisive riff on the fragility of words on paper, especially between the U.S. government and Native Americans.
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