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Justice and Spirituality Books

Evicted Call for Books and More Discussions
The St Vincent de Paul Society's Voice of the Poor Archdiocesan Council will be holding a discussion of Evicted in 2017, exact date to be determined.  They are looking for people who may be willing to loan or sell their copy of the book.  If you are interested in finding out more about the book discussion or would like to help by loaning or selling your book, please contact Barbara Schultz at 262-470-7825 or barbaraschultz32644@gmail.com

The book is available from many vendors.  Here is an Amazon link to identify the book. 
Join in some summer reading. We are inviting you to join us in reading "Evicted" as a summer "book club read". Then in September join other CPJ readers in a single meeting of discussion. The book is available from many vendors. Here is an Amazon link to identify the book. Dates for CPJ wide discussions will be announced mid- August or form your own discussion group.

Evicted is a must read for anyone working in the areas of social justice or direct service in the city of Milwaukee. In his book, Desmond tells the stories of eight families living in poverty in Milwaukee and their struggle to remain in housing. It also tells the stories of two landlords and how they manage their properties. Desmond did embedded research, living for a time on both the north and south sides of Milwaukee. Through these stories the reader is given a window into the world of the urban poor--decision making processes, stumbling blocks to stability, personal and economic challenges and substance abuse are all woven through the interesting and very readable narrative. Get reading!





and more titles below...

Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities
By Ruby K. Payne, PhD, Philip E. DeVol and Terie Dreussi Smith
If you didn’t grow up in poverty, you may be unaware of the “hidden rules” that govern many aspects of life for the poor.  People in poverty are often in survival mode, and support systems taken for granted in middle class and wealth are largely nonexistent. If your organization works with people from poverty, a deeper understanding of their challenges and strengths helps you partner with them to create opportunities for success.

The Call to Discernment in Troubled Times
By Dean Brackley
It is new perspectives on the Transformative Wisdom of Ignatius of Loyola. Destined to become a classic, it reintroduces the reader to Christianity as a lived experience, rather than a set of doctrines.  In these times of spreading violence, poverty, and environmental crisis, this book points the reader beyond paralyzing fear to inner freedom, hope and constructive response. Following the spirituality of Ignatius of Loyola, which has benefited millions for over four centuries, these reflections chart a course for wise decision-making, transformative action - a fuller life.  Whether you consider yourself a "religious" person or more of a searcher, here is a book that can help and inspire you on your journey.

Christian Faith, Justice, and a Politics of Mercy: the Benevolent Community
By James Gilman   
Christian Faith, Justice, and a Politics of Mercy: The Benevolent Community assumes that the most profound moral conflict today is between two virtues—justice and mercy. Gilman argues that the two are organically linked through the common experience of compassion. In an unjust world, justice cannot establish itself, but requires, in public as well as private life, projects of merciful benevolence.

Citizen of the World:  Suffering and Solidarity in the 21st Century
By Donald and James Dunson
This study of the nature of our moral obligations to alleviate suffering on a global level addresses many of the vexing questions that face practitioners of Christian compassion: how do we avoid a kind of “poverty tourism” or “slacktivism” in our response to suffering, particularly far from home? How do we respond authentically and effectively in our strategies for solidarity with the poor and the underprivileged? Using personal anecdotes as well as philosophical and theological reflection, Donald and James Dunson emphasize the power of moral argument as well as personal experience in addressing what can seem an insurmountable catalog of evils and suffering in the world.

The End of War: How Waging Peace Can Save Humanity, Our Planet, and Our Future
By Paul K. Chappell
"Paul Chappell understands that many times in the past, people have put all their faith in waging war as the best way to defend themselves. However, in a world that every day becomes more interconnected and fragile, Paul shows how the power of waging peace gives us all a more effective and reliable way to defend ourselves."

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced  into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship. [amazon.com] NOTE: Mike Gousha will be interviewing Matthew Desmond on Monday, April 4th, at 9 p.m. on Channel 10 (non-cable TV).

Following Christ in a Consumer Society
By John F. Kavanaugh

In an era of fraud, corruption, and the relentless celebration of image over substance, the message of this perennial best-seller is more timely than ever. Following Christ in a Consumer Society offers a penetrating critique of the culture of consumerism, contrasted with the personalism of the Gospel. Addressing a soul-destroying culture in which ""having more"" has become the only measure of value, Kavanaugh reminds us of the values that truly make us human. Through the counter-cultural message of the Gospel, his book presents a diagnosis of our social ills while at the same time providing a guide back to wholeness, sanity, and spiritual health.

The Forgiveness Project
By Marina Cantacuzino
Examining themes of forgiveness, reconciliation and conflict transformation, this book brings together the personal testimonies of both survivors and perpetrators of crime and violence and asks the question whether forgiveness may have more currency than revenge in an age which seems locked into the cycle of conflict.

Healing the Racial Divide: A Catholic Racial Justice Framework Inspired by Dr. Arthur Falls
By Lincoln Rice

Healing the Racial Divide retrieves the insights of Dr. Arthur Falls (1901-2000) for composing a renewed theology of Catholic racial justice. Falls was a black Catholic medical doctor who dedicated his life to healing rifts created by white supremacy and racism. He integrated theology, the social sciences, and personal experience to compose a salve that was capable of not only integrating neighborhoods but also eradicating the segregation that existed in Chicago hospitals. Falls was able to reframe the basic truths of the Christian faith in a way that unleashed their prophetic power. He referred to those Catholics who promoted segregation in Chicago as believers in the "mythical body of Christ," as opposed to the mystical body of Christ. The "mythical body of Christ" is a heretical doctrine that excludes African Americans and promotes the delusion that white people are the normative measure of the Catholic faith. Review from Wipf & Stock 

Jesus Christ Peacemaker: A New Theology Of Peace
By Terrence J. Rynne

This path breaking book shows how the early church took seriously the “hard sayings” of the Sermon on the Mount, put them into practice even in the teeth of violent repression, and, as a result of imitating Jesus’ lifestyle, converted much of the Roman Empire.  Rynne contends that “the time is ripe for a new theology of peace.”  It is time to base a theology of peace on the sacred scriptures and on the life and teachings of Jesus – not on natural law thinking. Terrance Rynne is co-president of the Sally and Terry Rynne Foundation and founding supporter of the Marquette University Center of for Peacemaking.

Jesus Consumer:  Reframing the Debate Between Faith and Consumption
By Michael Klassen  
Jesus Consumer combines modern consumer research with the latest writings on historical Jesus to propose a model for contemporary consumer behavior that pays serious regard to Jesus’ “consumption teachings.” Klassen argues that Jesus’ consumer teachings possess the greatest potential to help us effect positive change in our communities.

Joan Chittister Her Journey from Certainty to Faith
By Tom Roberts

Recommended by Bob Schuelke
An intimate biography of Joan Chittister - Benedictine nun and writer, a leading voice for spiritual renewal, a prophetic champion of peace and justice, and a champion of the role of women in the church and the world.  Chittister has become convinced that the journey and how it is traveled are as important as the destination.  She grew up to understand that doubt is not the enemy of faith and that questions are not a sign of insubordination but the means for drilling deeper into the truth.  God is best served by full engagement with all of creation especially those at the margins.

Living Justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action
By Thomas Massaro S.J.

For over a decade Living Justice has introduced readers to Catholic social teaching. Grounded in scripture, theology, reason, and experience, these faith-based principles for promoting justice and peace in modern society have inspired a remarkable burst of social activism in recent decades. Living Justice leads readers step-by-step through the building blocks of Catholic social thought, including its central themes, sources, and methods. Along the way readers encounter great heroes of social change and prophets of peace and justice. With its helpful resources, including discussion questions and an annotated list of print and web resources on Catholic social teaching, Living Justice remains a perfect text for courses on social justice.

By Joan Mueller 
Book Review by Joyce Radtke
“Living a Spirituality of Action” by Joan Mueller:  While promoting the educational and social development of Sudanese refugees, and developing networks of people to help the poor, Joan Mueller, a Franciscan Sister of Joy, has written an activist’s book for women about serving the poor.  Many of us are called to social justice and serving the poor, but we often get burned out.  We often feel at a dead end of frustration and doubt.  This book attempts to bring us back to what our ministry is based on: a deep spirituality.
 
The book is brief; only 9 chapters, about 88 pages, but it provides us with tools to inspire our ministries with the poor, and to nurture our own relationship with God.  Each chapter contains a “Food for Thought” section of points for discussion or contemplation, and a “Prayer for a Mothered World.”  These features make it appropriate for individual or group meditation. I found the book to be practical, yet inspirational. In one chapter, there is a self-assessment to assist the reader to decide how to use her unique skills. 
 
I especially like the way Mueller interprets the Bible story about Martha and Mary.  Martha seems to represent all the practical and productive women who would like some help, but never get it.  In the book, Mueller says that Martha is doing a worthy task, just as worthy as her sister, Mary, but she’s losing control; she’s too upset.  So the book brings us back to the joy and satisfaction of our ministry, whatever that may be.  If we are depleted of grace, how can we offer it to others?  This book is recommended for individual or group reading and discussion.

Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life
By Cardinal Walter Kasper. 
In this book Cardinal Kasper explores the meaning of mercy and the role it must plan in the life of the Church and the world. He calls for rethinking the Christian understanding of God and how mercy is understood in Scripture and theology. The book explores the relationship between mercy and justice and the value of spiritual works of mercy and justice in society.

Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job
by Kerry Weber, Associate Editor of America Magazine.  
This book is a wonderful story of how Kerry attempted to accomplish the Matthew 25 works of mercy within the forty days of Lent. It is an easy read with 25 brief chapters. 

The New Jim Crowe, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander 
From the Forward by Cornel West: “While the age of Obama is a time of historic breakthroughs at the level of racial symbols and political surfaces, Michelle Alexander’s magisterial work takes us beyond these breakthroughs to the systemic breakdown of black and poor communities devastated by mass unemployment, social neglect, economic abandonment, and intense police surveillance. [She turns attention] to the massive use of state power to incarcerate hundreds of thousands of precious poor, black, male (and increasingly female) young people in the name of a bogus “War on Drugs.”” This book will help bring understanding to how incarceration is directly tied to unemployment, education and poverty and why we all need to be involved in reforming the Wisconsin prison system.   Michelle Alexander recently spoke at MATC.  See the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article "Second chances? Not for black men with criminal records" .

Radical Compassion:  Finding Christ in the Heart of the Poor (Memoir)
By Gary Smith, SJ
For more than twenty-five years, Gary Smith, S.J., has lived among and ministered to the poor. Through a series of compelling vignettes that read like personal journal entries, Smith chronicles his life and work in the poverty-stricken Old Town section of Portland, Oregon. In his touching and often heart-breaking stories, Smith reveals the gritty reality of life on the streets, introduces many of the people who have touched his life, and shares hard-won wisdom on love, acceptance, and forgiveness.  As a passionate and dedicated advocate for the poor, Smith addresses the major problems and important issues facing this growing population. From the ravages of mental illness and addiction to struggles for affordable housing and quality health care, Smith brings attention to problems that many choose to ignore.

Book Review by Paul Schneider
"Same Kind of Different as Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore is a true story of a poor black Louisiana share cropper named Denver Moore who befriends a rich white art dealer, Ron Hall, through his wife Deborah at a Texas soup kitchen.  The men’s friendship changes both of their lives as they learn from each other and grow in their faith through love, compassion, and caring.  If you've ever thought that you had something to share with those you consider “less fortunate”, you may find, like Ron Hall, that It’s our self-righteous attitudes and material possessions that actually blind and inhibit us from connecting with God.   And that it’s the Denver Moore’s of the world who can show us the true face of Christ.

She Who Brings Peace
by Dr. Megan McKenna
This book from Pax Christi is about Women from all parts of the globe, all languages, races, religions, nations, and economic levels. All the religions and peoples of the world have women who, like Mary, bring Peace into the world ... in flesh and blood, in work and prayer.  Inspiring stories for us all. Learn more 

Strength for the Struggle
by Joseph Ellwanger    
Insights from the civil Rights Movement and Urban Ministry. "Seldom will one find a more straightforward and natural telling of the story of a contemporary pastor, his parishioners, and the people they serve" -- Martin E. Marty, Emeritus Professor, the University of Chicago, and a Lutheran pastor. Joseph W. Ellwanger is a retired Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastor.  He served nine years as pastor of an African American congregation, St. Paul Lutheran, 1958-67, in Birmingham, Alabama.  From 1967 through 2001, he was pastor of Cross Lutheran, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the central-city African American community, leading the congregation from 95 percent white in 1967 to 75 percent black by 2001.  The author's deep hope is that this book will feed the faith and stoke the fire of courage for that holy struggle, which never ends while we are on this earth.

Urban Injustice, How Ghettos Happen
By David Hilfiker, M.D
Hilfiker writes in his introduction “When Americans want to do something about poverty, we usually set about “improving” poor people. We offer education, job skills, parenting skills and more.  This approach presumes that the primary cause of poverty rests with the poor person. In this short book Hilfiker considers poverty from a different vantage point. He suggests that the primary causes of poverty lie not in individual behavior, but in forces outside of any one person’s control.  Drawing on his experience living in the inner city and working as a doctor to people in need, Hilfiker shares what he learned about the social structures that keep people impoverished.

By Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang
Book Review by Joyce Radtke
“Welcoming the Stranger” Justice, Compassion and Truth in the Immigration Debate” by Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang. Historically, people have always moved from place to place for many reasons.  Our own ancestors came to this country for various reasons, chiefly, to seek a better life. Many of them were driven out of their birth countries by war, famine, poverty, persecution or adventure.  For the most part, they were legal immigrants, but in the past, immigration poicies were definitely more inclusive. Now immigration is more tightly controlled and penalties for transgressions are severe. Immigration has become a sticky issue and a perceived security threat to our country. 
This book manages to address many sides of the issue in a simple and understandable way. From the myriad perspectives of the undocumented, to the government’s system of security, to the biblical attitude toward the stranger, this book tackles the issue head on. The authors reveal their own backgrounds and what drove them to enter the immigration debate also. Because of the complex issues, this book is best read slowly.
 
A Year of Mercy with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections
By Kevin Cotter

This book will draw you into God's unfailing mercy, strengthening, healing and equipping you to fulfill his plan for your life. Spend a few minutes every day with the Holy Father as you read a brief meditation by him followed by a few reflection questions designed to help you ponder and receive God's love.  God doesn't tire of us, Pope Francis has said, but "we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy." Join him in exploring the infinite love and unfailing compassion of the God who is always "there first," ready to receive and embrace us.