BY HANNAH STAPLETON, GRACE ATTENDER
Here's what I've realized about living during a global pandemic:
e never been more aware of all the ways our world is deeply broken
e never felt more powerless to heal it.
The brokenness really seems in our face lately, doesn't it? Maybe staying at home has forced these broken places into the limelight, stopped them from being covered up with nice words, denial, and arguments. And until we can go out into the world and heal them the way God has gifted us, I don't want to stop pursuing that work that I am called to.
I want to challenge us, as a church, to use this time that we wait for the new normal to arrive, to learn more about the broken places of the world and how we can intercede in them. Thus, Broken Places Book Club.
My goal in this series of blog posts is to recommend a set of books about each broken place. Some books will speak to the experience of living in that broken place so that we can cultivate empathy and deeper understanding. Some will speak to how we go about healing that place. Not all of these books will be by Christian authors and may cover sensitive topics. Please use your own discretion when reading or giving books to your children. I will try to indicate books that are marketed as appropriate for young, middle grade (middle school), or young adult (high school) readers. As a church body, we will select which book for each topic we want to read together each month and there will be a short discussion post with questions for further reflection at the end of the month.
My prayer is that these books challenge our understanding of the world around us. That they call us to deeper things. I am a firm believer that God will use art to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Talk about it with your Life Group, with your family, with your coworkers. This time of stillness is not a time of inaction. It's just a time of different action.
I'm deeply upset that this is the broken place we are starting with, but after the murder and injustice of Ahmaud Arbery - a black man shot three times while going for run by two white men in Georgia - I don't believe we can start anywhere else. While hatred has many facets, including mass genocide and war, it seems appropriate right now to focus particularly on racism.
All American Boys - Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (Ages 12+)
Accused of stealing something at the store, Rashad, an ROTC kid who loves art, is viciously beaten by a copy. Because he was a black kid in baggy clothes. Quinn, a white kid, watched his best friend's older brother beat up a black kid who was stealing from a store, not entirely understanding what he sees. But when the event is caught on camera, Quinn realizes that he has to understand it, because this is much bigger than him.
The Hate U Give (THUG) - Angie Thomas (Ages 14+)
Starr Carter lives in a poor neighborhood and goes to a fancy suburban prep school. This uneasy balance becomes even more difficult when she watches her childhood best friend get shot by a police officer. Starr can't fathom a world where the kid she grew up with is called a gangbanger and drug dealer in national headlines. The world clammers to know what happened that night and Starr is the only one with answers. (This book was also made into a movie.)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie (Ages 12+)
Junior is a cartoonist who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington State. Encouraged by a teacher to go to the white school off the reservation to the education he serves, Junior does. Alexie, a Native American author - writes honestly and openly about the racism, addiction, and poverty that come with life on the reservation, that Junior has to navigate every single day.
Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates
Written as a series of letters from Coates to his young son, Coates tries to explain what's like to inhabit and live with a black body. He writes about the history of the black body in America and what it's like now. What makes this book more than just a brief history is the emotion that embodies it.
Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson (Ages 10+)
In this novel of poems, Woodson writes about her experience as a black girls growing up during the Civil Rights movement. She writes about her family and her siblings and how she struggled to find her place in the world, growing up in both South Carolina and New York. Woodson is a masterful writer and her poetry is both vivid and accessible.
Hatred: The Psychological Descent Into Violence - Willard Gaylin
A respected psychologist, Gaylin explores how raw emotions turn into hatred. Gaylin goes so far as to call it a psychological disorder, because the quasi-delusional obsessive involvement with the scapegoat population. The author dismantles the formation of hatred to show how a person could commit acts of terrorism.
How to Be an Antiracist - Ibram X. Kendi
Kendi imagines a world without racism. He does so by looking at the ways that racism intersect with class, geography, culture, color, gender, and body types. By illustrating the insidious ways that racism is alive in our culture, Kendi seeks to challenge what it means to be truly antiracist and lays out the work ahead of us.
White Fragility: Why It's so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism - Robin DiAngelo
DiAngelo's book looks at white fragility, the defensive moves white people make when challenged racially, to help us understand that racism isn't just for bad people. She looks at the emotions underlying white fragility, the behaviors those emotions perpetuate, and the way the behaviors reinforce the racial equilibrium and prevent any productive dialogue.
I know there's a lot here and they all sound really good and really important. Try to pick one that you are the most interested in and put the title of your choice in the comments below. We'll be taking votes for a week and then we will announce the choice for this month.
Remember that you have lots of options for procuring your book! Most libraries have a wild selection of ebooks that you can read on a computer, phone or eReader. Call your library and see if they are doing any curbside. Books are also available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble (curbside or online) or via an independent bookstore, such as Turn the Page in Westfield (curbside and limited in-store hours) or Black Dog Books in Zionsville.
I can't wait to learn and grow alongside you all.