BOOK: On Juneteenth

In a previously curated article Jemar Tisby aptly recommends that white and Black Americans should commemorate Juneteenth differently. One of the ways non-Black Americans can commemorate the holiday is to learn about the history of Black people in America. On Juneteenth consists of a collection of six engrossing essays interlacing author Annette Gordon-Reed's memories from growing up in Jim Crow Conroe, TX as the first Black student in her elementary school with the complexities of American history, specifically Texan history, replete with its myths, legends, and truths.

BOOK: We the Fallen People

What if the way most Americans understand democracy is fundamentally flawed? What if the vast majority of Christian views of human nature has blended with popular culture? What if this misunderstanding has resulted in idolatry and hubris? In We the Fallen People, author Robert Tracy McKenzie digs into the past for insight into our present political morass.

BOOK: What If Jesus Was Serious…About Prayer?

What if prayer wasn't a thing you put on your to do list to knock off, but a practice you continually perform throughout every aspect of your life? What if prayer isn't about communication with God, but communion? What if praying to God and its effectiveness has nothing to do with our devotion? Through 53-devotionals, Skye Jethani's What If Jesus Was Serious...About Prayer? slowly and deliberately challenges us to rethink how many of us view prayer and to enter into a deep communion with God.

BOOK: Reading the Times

From newspaper fact checkers to evaluation methods such as S.I.F.T. to diversifying one's news feeds there is a tremendous amount of energy and time being devoted to debunking lies and conspiracy theories. Despite the trend to provide better quality and quantity of information to the public, according to a 2022 PPRI poll, 60% of white evangelical Protestants believe the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump while Qanon conspiracies ravage large swaths of churches in America. While fact checking methods and diversifying one's news feed can be helpful, it seems it is doing little to move people from yelling at each other to respectful conversation. How did the church get here? Is there a theological way of consuming the news? How can we think and act Christianly to the news?

BOOK: Common Prayer Pocket Edition: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

For those looking to dip their toe into a liturgical calendar and historical prayers, Common Prayer Pocket Edition: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is a perfect introduction. The 11-page introduction succinctly explains why a book of common prayer is useful while quickly orienting the reader how to use the book.

BOOK: Collateral Damage

Pastor James Atwood, who passed away in 2020, called gun violence the most important theological issue for the American church. He is rooted in the belief that all humans are created in the image of God and from Mark 12:28-34 where Jesus says the most important commandment is to love God and love your neighbor. Atwood says you cannot love God and not love your neighbor, they are fundamentally connected. Collateral Damage is a prophetic call for the church to get involved and not remain silent when 40,000 fellow image bearers are being killed each year while hundreds of thousands more are psychologically and emotionally damaged from the effects of gun violence.

BOOK: Whom Shall I Fear?

As humans, most of the time we want complex issues to be solved easily. For instance, if individuals with guns are targeting churches, then members of churches should carry guns to counteract the threat. While on the surface that may seem like the logical thing to do, and certainly a good portion of Americans would agree, as Christians we must consider what the Bible has to say. In Whom Shall I Fear? author and pastor Rosalind C. Hughes doesn't say whether a church should hire armed security or not, but invites the reader to take a step back and answer the question, "What is the church and what is its mission" before deciding how to deal with the violent culture we live in.

BOOK: Children Under Fire

We have read many books on gun violence-- one that details a prophetic Christian call towards gun violence (Beating Guns), one that tells a personal shooting survivor's story (When Thoughts and Prayers Aren’t Enough), and one that details the enormous mental, economic, and physical cost of gun violence (Collateral Damage). Children Under Fire carves a different path by telling the heartbreaking, intimate stories of two seven year old children, Ava Olsen and Tyshaun McPhatter, who form a profound friendship after being deeply traumatized by gun violence.

BOOK: When Thoughts and Prayers Aren’t Enough

For many Americans, statistics on the number of gun deaths in the country doesn't phase them. For instance, did you know that every day in the United States, 316 people are shot? Did you know that 106 of the people that are shot die (5 of them being children from 1-17 years old)? Did you know that sixty percent of gun deaths are suicides and another third are homicides? Are we willing to accept these statistics as normal? What will it take for us to unite and pass common sense gun laws?

BOOK: Common Ground

Some books on gun reform lean heavily on statistics, others choose a personal story, while others blend the two. Common Ground takes a different path. Penned for small group settings, but useful for the individual as well, author Donald Gaffney's focus is teaching people how to talk about guns and gun violence. In the preface, he lays out three rules -- confidentiality, trust, and respectful dialogue -- that all small groups should use to keep the discussion civil and polite. While not everyone will agree with each other, it is essential everyone treats each other with dignity and respect.