The words “hope” and “change” have been taking a beating lately: mocked by some, tarnished in the political sphere by partisan gridlock, seeming like mere illusions to many who need them most. But hope and positive transformation are more profound realities than will ever fit comfortably in the 24-hour news cycle; they germinate in individual hearts and local communities and grow along the long arc of history.
Whether you’re trying to nurture change in your church community, neighborhood, or on a larger scale for our battered, beautiful world, here are some books that can get you started, keep you going, or help you begin again. Because hope, while sometimes down, is never out.
For starters, there’s the new and revised version of Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging Times, by Paul Rogat Loeb (St. Martin’s Press). Through the stories and voices of dozens of activists from a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs, Loeb names the psychological and cultural barriers that can stop us from becoming involved in issues that we care about and explores how such hindrances can be overcome. While not writing from a faith perspective, Loeb sees the search for meaning and values as key to the activist life, and includes several people of faith among his interviewees. This thoughtfully researched, engaging book is both grounded and inspiring. First published in 1999, it has been updated to include perspectives and insights from the tumultuous first decade of the 21st century.