On the Lived Theology Reading List: One in Christ

One in Christ: Chicago Catholics and the Quest for Interracial Justice, by Karen J. JohnsonChicago Catholics and the Quest for Interracial Justice

In One in Christ, Karen J. Johnson tells the story of Catholic interracial activism through the lives of a group of women and men in Chicago who struggled with one another, their Church, and their city to try to live their Catholic faith in a new way. It started when black activists joined with a handful of white laypeople who believed in their vision of a universal church in the segregated city, and began to fight to make that vision a reality. In the end, not only had Catholic activists lived out their faith as active participants in the long civil rights movement and learned how to cooperate across racial lines, but they had changed the practice of Catholicism. They broke down the hierarchy that placed priests above the laity and crossed the parish boundaries that defined urban Catholicism. In this book, Johnson shows the ways religion and race combined both to enforce racial hierarchies and to tear them down, and demonstrates that we cannot understand race and civil rights in the North without accounting for religion.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Karen J. Johnson’s One in Christ has it all: white versus black and white with black; Catholic versus Protestant and Catholic with Protestant; Catholic versus Catholic and Catholic with Catholic. Widely researched, analyzed with precision, and focused on the magical messiness of everyday life, this book is necessary reading for anyone interested in race, religion, and justice in the past and present.”—Edward J. Blum, co-author of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America

“Karen J. Johnson has made a remarkable contribution to scholarship on interracial civil rights activism in the Northern United States. One in Christ is balanced in its attention to clergy and laity, and innovative in its intersectional placement of religion, race, gender, sexuality, class, and place at the heart of its analysis. Rigorous and passionate in its research and presentation, One in Christ will be appreciated as a cornerstone achievement in the history of the Catholic interracial justice movement.”—Omar M. McRoberts, author of Streets of Glory: Church and Community in a Black Urban Neighborhood

“A tour de force. One in Christ takes us into the streets and parishes of Catholic Chicago, richly exploring the much understudied work of the laity-particularly women-in shaping, defining, and acting for interracial unity and justice. In a delightfully engaging text, Johnson draws us into the messiness of human interaction for change and resistance during the long civil rights movement of the 1930s to the 1960s. Her findings and interpretations have deep meaning for our current times. A must read for anyone wanting to understand civil rights and racial change.”—Michael O. Emerson, author of Divided by Faith, United by Faith, and Transcending Racial Barriers

For more information on the publication, click here.

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