At Urbana 12, we heard about what God is doing to proclaim good news to the poor, freedom to the captives, sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed (Luke 4:18). But now, over six months out, that excitement and passion may have given way to the humdrum of the day-to-day grind. And the malaise of summer heat and unstructured time can lull us into complacency. It can be hard to stay motivated by the issues we were passionate about during the school year.
How do we stay grounded in our convictions and excited about the things God is doing on our campus and in our world? Here are some book suggestions for the second half of your summer to help keep the fire burning.
Part of a series pairing theologians and practitioners of justice, Reconciling All Things examines the potential for radical reconciliation across many of today’s divisions.
Katongole and Rice have partnered together for many years as codirectors at Duke Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation, and they bring the wisdom of their life experiences into their writing. Encouraging us to go beyond conflict resolution, they reveal to us the opportunity in our world for a deeper reconciliation in Christ—a reconciliation that pushes past simple diversity to achieve truly redeemed relationships, both with God and with our sisters and brothers on earth.
Though African Americans represent only 13 percent of drug users in the United States (paralleling national racial demographics), Alexander notes that they account for 35 percent of drug arrests, 55 percent of convictions, and 74 percent ofthose sent to prison on drug possession charges. In truth, Black men are 13 times more likely to be sent to prison than White men facing the same charge.
Alexander asserts that these disparities have tremendous consequences for families and communities, and lasting effects on the nation. As thousands of people of color end up entangled in the prison-industrial complex, claims of “colorblindness” give way to the reality that serious discrimination is at work in our judicial system. Alexander’s account challenges us to examine our legal system and advocate for just application of the law.
Wytsma calls us to pursue God’s heart by remembering God’s commitment to justice. Christ’s death on the cross was at the same time an act of reconciliation and of justice, he points out. As God’s people, we’re urged not to forget the wrongs that must be righted in order to be in a redeemed relationship with God’s creation.
But Wytsma also offers hope. The beauty of God’s plan is that he invites us into relationship with himself and one another and into his work of restoring justice to the world. That’s the way his vision becomes reality. So pursuing justice is an act of worship, a way we honor who God is and what he cares about. Wytsma helps us encounter God’s heart for justice and live into that vision in our daily lives.
Can we participate in fulfilling the dreams of God on earth? What would God’s dreams be for us?
Making All Things New describes the possibilities of what life on this earth could be, even as we recognize the real day-to-day consequences of living in a fallen world. Moore coveys a passion for global justice that is contagious, reminding us that, in Christ’s mission to redeem all of creation, we are given hope that we can be delivered from the nightmares of poverty, slavery, human trafficking, and famine. He also elegantly guides us through Scripture, describing what God might have in mind for us when he reveals a “new heaven and a new earth” which we’ll one day dwell in with him.
Katelin Hansen (@strngefruit) is an alumna of the University of Richmond InterVarsity undergraduate and Umoja chapters, and is currently a member of InterVarsity’s Emerging Scholars Network at The Ohio State University. She is the editor of By Their Strange Fruit (BTSF), an online forum to facilitate racial justice and reconciliation from a Christ-minded perspective, increasing the visibility of healthy and holy racial discussion.
You might also be interested in these InterVarsity Press resources on justice: