On the Lived Theology Reading List: Communion of Radicals

The Literary Lineage of Overlooked Christian Radicals

Radical left politics and Christianity may seem incompatible to some Americans, but in his new literary history of their convergence, Jonathan McGregor dispels this popular myth. The conventional binary of a religious right in opposition to progressive politics disregards the work of an impassioned, vocal Christian left whose deep conviction drove their activism and literary imaginations.

McGregor’s fascinating study traces the writing of twentieth century Christian radicals and their religious justifications of progressive battles against racism, unfettered capitalism, and homophobia. Throughout the turbulent century, Christian leftists reaffirm that a radical orthodoxy, human equality, and community are not reserved for an otherworldly utopia – they can and should illuminate the challenges of the present era and energize redemptive engagement of the social order. Roman Catholic personalists such as Dorothy Day championed socialist movements centered on the human person contrary to oppressive forces of abusive capitalism and communist materialism. McGregor additionally complicates and deepens the history of white Southern identity with his focus on the literature of Southern Christian organizations that evoked agrarian imagery to advocate for socialism and civil rights.

In every chapter of Communion of Radicals: The Literary Christian Left in Twentieth-Century America, McGregor subverts the historical interpretation of religion and politics in America, leaving readers with a rich, new understanding of how Christian tradition is hardly reserved for the religious right alone.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

Jonathan McGregor peels back layers of myth and misperception to reveal a rich tapestry of original material illustrating that there was no simple connection between religion and the literary Left. Deeply researched and skillfully conceived, Communion of Radicals sets the agenda in a lucid and contemplative manner for a reassessment of the methods by which Christian traditions fostered and sustained radical writers.

—Alan M. Wald, author of American Night: The Literary Left in the Era of the Cold War

Communion of Radicals makes an important contribution to literary history. Above all, it shows that understanding the work of Christian literary leftists involves letting go of lazy assumptions about what does and doesn’t count’ as authentically leftist.

—Thomas F. Haddox, author of Hard Sayings: The Rhetoric of Christian Orthodoxy in Late Modern Fiction

For more information on the publication, click here.

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On the Lived Theology Reading List: God Is Red

The Seminal Apologia of Indigenous Religion

As both a lawyer and theologian, Vine Deloria, Jr. (1933-2005) invigorated modern Native thought. The Standing Rock Sioux activist first demanded nationwide attention with the provocative Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto (1969), but it is God Is Red: A Native View of Religion (1972) in which Deloria’s theological brilliance shines. The provocative account challenges Christian hegemony and defines Native religion as a better-suited alternative for the future of America.

Academic study of religious philosophy rarely focuses on indigenous spirituality, let alone Native religion in juxtaposition with Western Christianity. Where Christianity is temporal and individualistic, Deloria contends that the Native worldview is spatially oriented and connected to land and community. In the modern world, indigenous values can heal scars of Christian imperialism and turn to ecology and harmony. With wit and sophistication, Deloria disputes the authority of western scientism and affirms Native categories of knowledge.

At the time of its publication, God Is Red was groundbreaking for indigenous intellectualism. The book inspired Native communities and prompted reflection among Christians – Time Magazine fittingly named Deloria one of the eleven greatest religious thinkers of the twentieth century.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

God is Red should be read and re-read by Americans who want to understand why the United States keeps losing the peace, war after war.

—From the forward by Leslie Marmon Silko, author of Ceremony

The flagship book on Native American spirituality remains Vine Deloria’s God is Red. He does an outstanding job of translating complex spiritual issues into very simple truths.

—Wilma P. Mankiller, Former Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation

Deloria’s thinking on the subject of religion has lost none of its rage or relevance…since God is Red was first published. This book is broader than its subtitle suggests. It is a trenchant and often witty critique on non-Native religion through Native eyes.

—Akwe:kon Journal

For more information on the publication, click here.

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