Christmas Book Recommendations from ESA

Are you looking for the perfect gift for a loved one, or something to read over the holidays? ESA’s staff have compiled a list of thoughtful books on faith and social justice that will deepen your understanding of what it means to live on earth, as it is in heaven.

A Booklet of Uncommon Prayer by Kenji Kuramitsu

This beautiful prayer book contains prayers for an end to mass incarceration, against environmental recklessness, in times when people say “All lives matter,” and for when people terrorize. Prayer has the potential to not only remember the power of God born in our midst, but also to faithfully orient ourselves towards incarnating another kind of world.

Kristyn Komarnicki, ESA’s Oriented to Love director, writes “If you’re a hope junkie and still believe—despite all the vitriolic sound biting and general ‘othering’ that inhabits politics, pop culture, and church these days—in the power of loving dialogue, I recommend the following books. The authors are all Jesus-followers who offer a way forward for some of today’s most divisive topics.”

Why Can’t We Talk? Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart by John Backman

Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving through Deep Difference by John D. Inazu

Oriented to Faith: Transforming the Conflict Over Gay Relationships by Tim Otto

Micky ScottBey Jones, who convenes our Racial Justice Institute, recommends Occupied with Nonviolence: A Palestinian Woman Speaks by Jean Zaru.

“All eyes are on the Holy Land right now because of the Christmas season and because of all the turmoil and confusion,” Micky says. “Our Christian siblings who live in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and throughout the region often get left out of the conversation. Occupied with Nonviolence is a collection of essays, talks and stories from an Arab, Palestinian, Quaker Christian woman who has been leading, loving and living in Ramallah for many years. Her heart is for peace and her courage is unbelievable. If you are hoping to visit the Holy Land one day or just looking for a Christian understanding of living in the conflict, check out this book.”

(And also: if you’re interested in spending Christmas in the Holy Land with Micky, it’s not too late to sign up!)

Merrick Korach, one of ESA’s Sider Scholars, recommends three books:

Just Politics by ESA founder Ron Sider offers a biblically grounded, factually rooted, Christian approach to politics that cuts across ideological divides. Shaped by a careful study of society, this book will guide readers into more thoughtful and effective political activity.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is a classic masterpiece of religious satire that entertains readers with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to “Our Father Below.” At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original.

A Black Theology of Liberation by James Cone emerged as one of the most influential theological voices in North America. This book, which offered a searing indictment of white theology and society, introduced a radical reappraisal of the Christian message for our time. Joining the spirit of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., Cone radically reappraised Christianity from the perspective of the oppressed black community in North America.

Sarah Withrow King, director of CreatureKind, also recommends three books:

Prayers for Animals by Carol J. Adams: Incorporating animals into morning, mourning, thanksgiving, and intercessory prayer, this wonderful book is a must-have for any Christian who cares deeply about animals.

Shalom and the Community of Creation by Randy W. Woodley: Understanding the Native American “Harmony Way” and its parallels to the biblical vision of shalom can help all Christians think, live, and act in ways that help move us towards reconciliation with ourselves, God, and the whole of God’s creation.

Word of Mouse by James Patterson: A mouse who has escaped from a testing lab teaches readers to question their suppositions about other creatures. There’s so much to love about this book!

Finally, ESA’s executive director Nikki Toyama-Szeto writes, “The Listening Day by Paul Pastor has been a surprising companion. This collection of short, daily reflections, in a beautiful little book, have helped me put a pause button on the day. A lovely gift.”

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