On the Lived Theology Reading List: Outlaw Christian

Outlaw Christian: Finding Authentic Faith by Breaking the Rules, by Jacqueline BussieFinding Authentic Faith by Breaking the Rules

In Outlaw Christian, Jacqueline Bussie discusses the unspoken “laws” that govern modern Christian life: #1: Never get angry at God; #2: Never doubt; #3: Never question; #4: Never tell your real story; #5: Always speak in clichés about evil and suffering; and #6: Always believe hope comes easy for those who truly love God. Bussie knows that many Christians feel burnt out trying to follow these laws, and she believes that living according to these rules is killing real Christian life. In Outlaw Christian, Bussie proposes a rebellious, life-giving, authentic alternative.

Bussie uses captivating stories that are often brutally honest in order to give concrete, practical strategies to help readers cultivate hope, seek joy, confront grief, and more. She tackles difficult questions head on, speaking to progressive and conservative Christians alike in order to provide a new way to handle the difficult and troubling questions of life.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“There’s nothing fluffy about this book.  It is raw, sassy, and from the heart…This is a fresh invitation to the faith for skeptics, doubters, seekers, and even folks who like that old-time-religion.  Become an outlaw Christian. God likes holy rebels.” —Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible RevolutionJesus for President, and the new book Executing Grace

“While this is a Christian book, its gifts are available to anyone who has ever wrestled with the seemingly impossible task of making sense of suffering, loss, evil, inequity, and loneliness—including atheists like me. Reading Dr. Bussie’s call to reject clichés and sit with uncertainty, I found myself hoping this book makes its way into the hands of every Christian who has ever had their questions or pain shut down by a platitude or an easy answer.” —Chris Stedman, author of Faitheist and Executive Director of the Yale Humanist Community

“I served as a parish pastor for twenty five years.Walking with my people in times of crisis and deep pain I came to realize that some of their deepest struggles were not about loss nor about making sense out of what had happened, but finding the space within themselves and within their faith communities to speak honestly and openly about their doubt and anger toward God. Now Jacqueline Bussie, a theologian of the church, shares her experience and gives voice to all who have been caught in the belief that doubt is faithlessness and anger toward God is blasphemy. Quite the opposite, Dr. Bussie argues, doubt and anger are real expressions of a living faith. Outlaw Christian might break the rules but it opens up the possibility of deeper faith.” —The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Dr. Jacqueline Bussie is an award-winning author, professor, and theologian. An active servant-leader in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Jacqueline teaches religion, theology and interfaith studies classes at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where she also serves as the Director of the Forum on Faith and Life.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our contributors, click here, #PLTcontributors. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Safehold

Safehold: Poems (Dreamseeker Poetry), by Ann HostetlerDreamseeker Poetry

In Safehold, Ann Hostetler has collected and published her poems that communicate what it means to endure a crisis of security. The topics are varied, ranging from 9/11, to the death of both her parents, to the election of the 45th president, but all the poems speak to existential dilemmas Hostetler has dealt with in her life, and ways she has learned to cope with outcomes out of her control. Her poems respond to such  questions as, “How do you live your everyday life, treasuring what you love while embracing painful things that you wish hadn’t happened?”

While Hostetler does not consider herself a Christian poet or a Mennonite poet, which is the faith she was raised in, her poems are undeniably influenced by her upbringing, causing this book to be acclaimed as a “true work of Christian poetry.” This book, and Hostetler’s poems as a whole, invite a thought-provoking, spiritual outlook on dealing with a loss of assurance.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Hostetler, who has done so much for Mennonite literature as teacher and editor, now gives us a second collection of her own plainspoken poems. Their message? Refuse to be shunned. Breathe. Build an ark. Seek forgiveness not perfection. Write what you love. Again and again, she calls us to everyday mindfulness in the midst of our grief: failing parents, worrisome children, the world’s uncertain course. Honest and wise, this book is a tonic for our times.” —Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Author, Shale Play: Poems and Photographs from the Fracking Fields

“Hostetler gathers her living and dead into these poems, generations of seekers and travelers, and seats them at the table, telling stories that serve as a safehold against the confusion and violence of the world, while also using ‘the bellows of the breath’ to praise beauty, to comfort with a failing yet steadfast love. The poet confesses, ‘All my life I’ve tried to live as though / the body were the soul, ‘ and to that end Hostetler’s rich poems are incarnational meditations so very necessary for survival. —Todd Davis, Author, Native Species and Winterkill

“Safehold teaches what I never want to forget: that all people are my neighbors, that my mother is my original love, that any child shunned, slaughtered, shamed is my child. Hostetler has written a true work of Christian poetry: these poems incarnate Christ’s elegant, dark hand, unknowable and open, ready to carry us all.” —Rebecca Gayle Howell, Author, American Purgatory

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: On the Freedom Side

On the Freedom Side: How Five Decades of Youth Activists Have Remixed American History, by Wesley C. HoganHow Five Decades of Youth Activists Have Remixed American History

In On the Freedom Side, author Wesley C. Hogan argues that the future of democracy belongs to young people. In order to back up this claim, he cites multiple youth-led organizations throughout American history, starting with Ella Baker and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s. He also includes more recent groups, such as the Dreamers who are fighting for immigration reform; the Movement for Black Lives that is demanding a reinvestment in youth of color and an end to police violence against people of color; and the International Indigenous Youth Council, water protectors at Standing Rock who fought to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline and protect sovereign control of Indigenous lands.

Hogan reveals how the legacy of the civil rights movement has influenced young people, especially those who are often left at the margins of US society, to take a stand for the causes they believe in. This book centers their stories in an “activist mix tape” that provides lively, fresh perspectives on the promise of twenty-first-century U.S. democracy.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“At a time when too many of us are simply cursing the darkness, Hogan has shone the light of history on the often-invisible youth movements that fueled positive change in the past . . . and that continue to energize us today.”—Judy Richardson, SNCC veteran and coeditor of Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC

“Hogan provides a way for us to explore the evolution of social justice movements, revealing how activists take what they learn from the ‘Movement Decade’ of the 1960s and build upon it.”—Tracy E. K’Meyer, author of From Brown to Meredith: The Long Struggle for School Desegregation in Louisville, Kentucky, 1954–2007

“An informed, passionate, and hopeful book that considers the cutting-edge movements of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Hogan introduces us to the multiracial, intergenerational, and intersectional activists at the heart of contemporary freedom movements, noting their own acknowledged debts to the egalitarian spirit of the Black Freedom struggle and its most egalitarian practitioner, Ella Baker.”—Dan Berger, author of Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Religion as We Know It

Religion as We Know It: An Origin Story, by Jack MilesAn Origin Story

In this slender volume, scholar of religion Jack Miles explains the origins of the comparative study of religion, and how the concept of religion came to be thought of as being distinct from other human spheres of activity. In his essay, which was originally the introduction to the Norton Anthology of World Religions, Miles makes an eloquent case for the necessity of considering the worldviews of others with compassion and understanding. At the end of the volume, Miles explores his own faith, explaining how he understands religion’s place in the modern world.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Any student of theology will be enlightened by this deeply satisfying work.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This is an exceptional work that challenges and rewards careful reading and thought. It belongs in every library.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Jack Miles has written the perfect first book for religious studies beginners. He starts with the widely held American understanding of religion but ends arguing brilliantly that inescapable human ignorance creates the possibility of welcoming the new, the unexpected, even the religious. Our self-absorbed age needs this book.”—Mark C. Taylor, Columbia University
“The question of the origin of religion has rarely been addressed with the erudition and eloquence of Jack Miles. Drawing on a remarkable wealth of sources across time and place, he offers much for us to ponder in an essay that is at once highly learned and deeply personal.”—Donald S. Lopez Jr., University of Michigan

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Opening the Gates to Asia

Opening the Gates to Asia: A Transpacific History of How America Repealed Asian Exclusion, by Jane H. HongA Transpacific History of How America Repealed Asian Exclusion

In Opening the Gates to Asia, historian Jane H. Hong documents the struggle of Asian Americans and their allies to repeal racially discriminatory laws that excluded Asian immigrants from the United States. Hong reveals that this was not a singular campaign, but part of a prolonged movement. It was related, but distinct, from black civil rights efforts, and deeply intertwined with the United States’ interventionist policies abroad. Hong’s book shows how immigration to the United States has undergone a pivotal transition over the course of the twentieth century, ultimately rejecting the notion that the United States could only welcome white Europeans.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Jane Hong offers an impressive examination of the multiple forces that shaped America’s repeal of Asian exclusion, and adds depth and nuance to U.S. immigration history, braiding it with the history of U.S. diplomacy and civil rights. By investigating the dismantling of the Asian exclusion regime, Hong refines understandings about the United States’s growing internationalism and underscores its transpacific shift during the early twentieth century.”—Cindy I-Fen Cheng, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“This book contains compelling analysis, astute observations, and a number of new and important sources. Hong makes intriguing and complex arguments while tracing the complicated transpacific struggle for repealing exclusion.”—Charlotte Brooks, Baruch College

Opening the Gates to Asia is a stunning and original work that offers a comprehensive analysis of how the United States liberalized its exclusionary immigration policy. Jane Hong emphasizes the significance of the global and the international by foregrounding U.S. empire (as it transformed from a formal to an informal one), the influence of Asian and Asian American political actors within an expansive geography, and a comparative understanding of civil rights and social movements. This book, based on extensive archival research, brings into conversation disparate fields of study to offer a transpacific analysis of the intertwining of U.S. imperial and immigration policies.”—Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, University of California, Irvine

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Natural Saints

Natural Saints: How People of Faith Are Working to Save God's Earth, by Mallory McDuffHow People of Faith Are Working to Save God’s Earth

There is a growing literature addressing the connections between American religion and environmentalism. In Natural Saints, Mallory McDuff, a professor of environmental education at Warren Wilson College, focuses readers’ attention on the specific case studies of religious people who have struggled to respond to climate change and ecological devastation. McDuff documents how churches, clergy, and laity have all found spiritual meaning in working to help save the environment. Using fieldwork and interviews, she chronicles how efforts as divergent as battles to end mountaintop coal removal in Kentucky and feed the poor out of church gardens in Wisconsin are deeply tied to the beliefs and theology of faith communities.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Following of Jesus

The Following of Jesus: A Reply to the Imitation of Christ, by Leonardo BoffA Reply to the Imitation of Christ

The Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff has been a leading advocate for liberation theology for decades, urging believers to prioritize the poor. In Boff’s The Following of Jesus, he offers a reflection on Thomas à Kempis’s fifteenth century Christian classic, The Imitation of Christ, and a gentle correction to that renowned work. Rather than simply prioritize spiritual contemplation and devotion, Boff envisions a Christianity that calls on the faithful to imitate Jesus’s commitments to the socially marginalized and to care for the earth. This translation from Dinah Livingstone makes Boff’s clear and concise prose accessible to English-language readers.

Here is an excerpt from a 2016 interview with Boff about liberation theology:

Liberation theology is not a discipline. It is a different way of practicing theology. It does not start from existing theological traditions and then focus on the poor and excluded populations of society. Its core is the struggle of the poor to free themselves from the conditions of poverty. Liberation theology does not seek to act for the poor via welfarism or paternalism. Instead, it seeks to act with the poor to tap their wisdom in changing their life and livelihood.

How, then, do we act with them? By seeing the poor and oppressed through their own eyes, not with those of an outsider. We must discover and understand their values, such as solidarity and the joy of living, which to some extent have been lost by society’s privileged… Seeing the reality of the poor firsthand awakens an outsider to the inadequacy of his perceptions and doctrines for judging it and how to change it. This occurs in two ways: first, through understanding the mechanisms that generate poverty and, second, by awakening to the fact that poverty and oppression contradict God’s plan and that actions must thus be taken to eliminate them.”

For more information on the publication, click here.

For the full interview with Boff, click here.

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Color of Compromise

The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism, by Jemar TisbyThe Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism

In The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racismauthor Jemar Tisby uncovers the roots of sustained injustice in the American church, highlighting the cultural and institutional tables that need to be turned in order to bring about real and lasting progress between black and white people. Tisby walks the reader through a historical journey, starting at  America’s early colonial days through slavery and the Civil War, covering the tragedy of Jim Crow laws and the victories of the Civil Rights era, and ending at today’s Black Lives Matter movement. Through these time periods, he reveals the subtle and not-so-subtle ways the American church has compromised what the Bible teaches about human dignity and equality.

However, Tisby does not just diagnose the persistent problem of racism within the church, he proposes a way to solve it. Through The Color of Compromise, he charts a path forward with intriguing ideas that further the conversation as he challenges us to reverse these patterns and systems of complicity with bold, courageous, and immediate action.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“In giving us a history of America and the Protestant Church, Jemar Tisby has given us a survey of ourselves-the racial meanings and stratagems that define our negotiations with one another. He points courageously toward the open sore of racism-not with the resigned pessimism of the defeated but with the resilient hope of Christian faith. The reader will have their minds and hearts pricked as they consider just how complicit the Church has been in America’s original sin and how weak a word ‘complicit’ is for describing the actions and inactions of those who claim the name of Christ!”—Thabiti Anyabwile, Pastor, Anacostia River Church

“With the incision of a prophet, the rigor of a professor, and the heart of a pastor, Jemar Tisby offers a defining examination of the history of race and the church in America. Comprehensive in its scope of American history, Tisby presents data that provides the full truth and not a sanitized version that most American Christians have embraced. Read this book. Share this book. Teach this book. The church in America will be better for it.”Soong Chan Rah, North Park Theological Seminary


For more information on the publication, click here.

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: Martin’s Dream

Martin's Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., by Clayborne CarsonMy Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

In Martin’s Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.author Clayborne Carson chronicles a decades long quest to understand Martin Luther King, Jr. the man, delves into the construction of his legacy, and tries to understand how King’s “dream” has evolved. This all began on August 28, 1963, when hundreds of thousands of demonstrators flocked to the nation’s capital for the March on Washington.

Carson was only 19 at the time, and had hitched a ride to Washington to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. As a black student from a working-class family in New Mexico, this speech was a life-changing occasion for Carson, and it launched him on a career to become one of the most important chroniclers of the civil rights era. Two decades later, as a distinguished professor of African American History at Stanford University, Mrs. King picked Dr. Carson to edit her late husband’s papers. In this book, Carson draws on new archives as well as unpublished letters to take the reader on a journey of rediscovery of the King legend.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Clay Carson’s compelling personal story confirms Coretta King’s wisdom in entrusting the Martin Luther King papers to his care. We owe Clay a tremendous debt of gratitude for bringing us a richer understanding of Martin King and the philosophy of creative non-violence to which he gave his life. We are still on a journey to Martin’s ‘Beloved Community’ and we are fortunate Clay Carson has shared his own journey with us.” ―Andrew Young, author of Walk In My Shoes

“A remarkably candid memoir. . . No matter how much you may think you know about the Civil Rights Movement, you will learn from Carson’s journey and will likely be surprised by the many challenges he faced as he struggled to define and to preserve Dr. King’s many contributions for posterity.” ―Michelle Alexander, author of the bestselling The New Jim Crow

“Clayborne Carson’s compelling memoir is full of meaningful insights. This book is a must-read!” ―Clarence Jones, author of Behind the Dream

For more information on the publication, click here.

Fellow travelers are scholars, activists, and practitioners that embody the ideals and commitments of the Project on Lived Theology. We admire their work and are grateful to be walking alongside them in the development and dissemination of Lived Theology.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.

On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Laughter of the Oppressed

The Laughter of the Oppressed: Ethical and Theological Resistance in Wiesel, Morrison, and Endo, by Jacqueline BussieEthical and Theological Resistance in Wiesel, Morrison, and Endo

In The Laughter of the Oppressed: Ethical and Theological Resistance in Wiesel, Morrison, and Endo, author Jacqueline Bussie attempts to tackle the following unanswered questions: What is the theological and ethical significance of the laughter of the oppressed? And what does it mean to laugh at the horrible–to laugh while one suffers? While the majority of ethical philosophical theory and western theology maintains that laughter is nihilistic and irresponsible, especially if occurring within tragic circumstance, Bussie argues that the dominant social location of these theologians and theorists has led to a gap in inquiry, to a failure to consider laughter “from below.”

In this book, Bussie broadens the Judeo-Christian theological lens to examine the multicultural, modern historical fiction of Elie Wiesel, Toni Morrison, and Shusaku Endo as case studies. These authors’ well-respected texts, in dialogue with voices from within and beyond their traditions, help us construct a theology of laughter. The Laughter of the Oppressed not only interrupts the banality of evil and the dualism of faith and doubt, but also deconstructs the dominant consciousness. Such laughter challenges theology to rearticulate the relationships between God and evil, theology and theodicy, theology and language, paradox and faith, tragedy and hope, and oppression and resistance.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

Jacqueline Bussie reads familiar texts with a keen theological eye and provides fresh and innovative insights into these literary classics. With exquisite literary sensibility and bold theological imagination she helps her readers to understand how genuine laughter emerges from the depths of suffering. This is theological writing of the highest order — intelligent, faithful, and deeply moving.” —Ronald F. Thiemann, Bussey Professor of Theology, Harvard Divinity School

“Bussie listens deeply to the voices of people traditionally marginalized to discover how they have given expression to the paradox of ‘colliding narratives’ and responded creatively to tragic suffering…The Laughter of the Oppressed…is indispensable for those concerned with theodicy and the problem of suffering, the theology of the cross, liberation theologies, and the use of fiction as a theological resource.”Karen Teel, Catholic Books Review

“Political jokes arise in dictatorships and their laughter is liberating oppressed and silenced people. They are nothing less than a resonance of the laughing God in heaven. “The Lord shall have them in derision.” (Ps 2,4). The arrogance of power is ridiculous because God is God. I read this fascinating study with growing admiration. It is a masterpiece and a great contribution to every liberating theology.” Jurgen Moltmann

For more information on the publication, click here.

Dr. Jacqueline Bussie is an award-winning author, professor, and theologian. An active servant-leader in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Jacqueline teaches religion, theology and interfaith studies classes at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where she also serves as the Director of the Forum on Faith and Life.

For more of “On the Lived Theology Reading List,” click here. To engage in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, @LivedTheology, please use #LivedTheologyReads. For more recommended resources from our fellow travelers, click here, #PLTfellowtravelers. To sign up for the Lived Theology monthly newsletter, click here.