I would like to recommend two books, both recent publications from Orbis Books, for your reading list during Lent. I find them to be mind opening and heart rending. I know that I will be reading them more than once in the coming months. These two books will likely influence the themes of upcoming programs in our Adult Faith Enrichment classes and in our annual retreat. For now, I will share the publisher’s descriptions of the books. With more reflection, I hope to share my own reviews of the books.
Jesus Wasn’t Killed by the Jews: Reflections for Christians in Lent
Edited by Jon M. Sweeney (Orbis Books, 2020)
The Passion narratives contain painful anti-Semitic tropes—particularly the Gospel of John, which is read world-wide every Holy Week. These readings have been used over the centuries to brand the Jewish people as “Christ-killers” and to justify discrimination and violence. Here, religious scholars and writers address the historical, theological, and exegetical considerations to be addressed by every Christian in order to move beyond this toxic history. Contributors include Walter Brueggemann, Mary Boys, Richard Lux, Wes Howard-Brook, Massimo Faggioli, Bishop Richard J. Sklba, Gregg Garret, and Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso.
Jon M. Sweeney, the publisher of Paraclete Press, is the author of more than thirty books, including The Complete Francis of Assisi and James Martin, SJ: In the Company of Jesus. A Catholic married to a rabbi, he sits on the board of The Lux Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies in Milwaukee.
When Tears Sing: The Art of Lament in Christian Community
by William Blaine-Wallace (Orbis, 2020)
“May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy!” —Psalm 126:5
From his long experience in ministry and as a pastoral counsellor, and influenced by such luminaries as Daniel Berrigan and Flannery O’Connor, William Blaine-Wallace offers a fresh construction of lament as fundamentally relational. He asks, “If your tears could speak, what would they say?” When sorrow and suffering are voiced in community, solidarity emerges.
The art of lament is the act of bringing more of our lived experience into congregational and communal life. This book helps shift congregations away from more charity-based social service toward a more joyful embrace of our suffering world, transforming the lives of members and seekers and the greater community.
William Blaine-Wallace is an Episcopal priest and pastoral counselor. The author of Water in the Wastelands: The Sacrament of Shared Suffering, he has ministered in parishes, hospices, and in mental health and educational settings. He lives in Maine.