Featured Book for January 2023
by Damon Garcia
For thousands of years, religious messages have been used to either uphold the status quo or upend it. And while we are all very familiar with the kind of conservative Christianity that suppresses liberation and justifies oppression, progressive Christians are just as guilty of upholding unjust systems when we prioritize harmony and unity over justice. True justice requires us to choose sides. True justice requires action. When we look at Scripture, we see that the God of the Bible was never neutral. Again and again God chooses the side of the oppressed. Jesus said the Spirit of the Lord anointed him “to let the oppressed go free,” and those of us who claim to follow Jesus today must commit to this radical mission of liberation.
In The God Who Riots, popular YouTuber and public theologian Damon Garcia uses his frank, tell-it-like-it-is style to connect us with the Jesus who flipped tables in the temple and led an empire-destabilizing movement for liberation. The spirit of this God is embodied in today’s protests, riots, and strikes. As we join this struggle for liberation, we are joining the God who riots alongside us, within us, and through us.
Featured Book for February 2023
by Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts
Black Americans’ resilience during centuries of racially-motivated violence is beyond remarkable. But continuing to endure this harm allows for generations of trauma to fester and grow. Healing has to be the priority going forward.
For decades, Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts clung to her upbringing in the church, believing that racial reconciliation would come through faith and discipline, being respectable, and doing what’s right. But when her cousin became the victim of a white supremacist’s hateful rampage, her body and soul said, “no more.”
The trauma of America’s racial history, wreaking havoc on not only Black and Brown folk but white people too, in its own way, will not be alleviated without the will to face it head-on. We must name the dehumanization that plagues us, practice truth-telling and self-care, and make space for our vulnerability—to do the hard work of healing ourselves and our communities.
This book is written with that healing in mind. It unpacks how American systems and institutions enable the kind of violence we’ve seen connected to white supremacy and nationalism. It examines the way media has created a desensitization to violence against Black bodies. It outlines what it looks like for a person who claims to follow Jesus to be anti-racist. But more than anything, it offers a blueprint for healing and reconciliation that includes the necessity of white people untangling from an ancestral mandate of colonization and false notions of supremacy, and Black and Brown people reckoning with the impact of trauma and feeling free to grieve in whatever way grief shows up.
Featured Book for March 2023
by Aurelia Dávila Pratt
Each of us has traumas, triggers, and painful experiences that have shaped our existence in this world. We carry these burdens with us as we navigate the realities of our lives. Learning to embody the truth of imago Dei is our catalyst for healing. We are each made in the image of God, and the Spirit of God lives within us. Therefore, we are allowed to listen to our Spirit. We are invited to develop our own Divine intuition, and we are empowered to trust our inner voice. We don’t need anyone else’s permission to navigate our life and faith, except our own.
With the powerful voice of a woman, pastor, mother, and advocate, Rev. Aurelia Dávila Pratt gives us the compassionate nudge and tools we need to access our inner authority. By stepping out of harmful belief systems informed by white supremacy and scarcity, we can step into healthy paradigms of abundance, liberation, and power. A Brown Girl’s Epiphany is a love letter to all of us in need of guidance on our journey. Honest, vulnerable, and humble, Pratt imagines a world where the walking wounded become the fully healed and liberated, where our inner work becomes the starting point for creating heaven on earth.
Featured Book for April 2023
by Mihee Kim-Kort
Featured Book for May 2023
by Patrick B. Reyes
In The Purpose Gap, Patrick Reyes reflects on a family member’s death after a long struggle with incarceration and homelessness. As he asks himself why his cousin’s life had turned out so differently from his own, he realizes that it was a matter of conditions. While they both grew up in the same marginalized Chicano community in central California, Patrick found himself surrounded by a host of family, friends, and supporters. They created a different narrative for him than the one the rest of the world had succeeded in imposing on his cousin. In short, they created the conditions in which Patrick could not only survive but thrive.
Far too much of the literature on leadership tells the story of heroic individuals creating their success by their own efforts. Such stories fail to recognize the structural obstacles to thriving faced by those in marginalized communities. If young people in these communities are to grow up to lives of purpose, others must help create the conditions to make that happen. Pastors, organizational leaders, educators, family, and friends must all perceive their calling to create new stories and new conditions of thriving for those most marginalized. This book offers both inspiration and practical guidance for how to do that. It offers advice on creating safe space for failure, nurturing networks that support young people of color, and professional guidance for how to implement these strategies in one’s congregation, school, or community organization.
Featured Book for June 2023
by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection (Author) Carmen Acevedo Butcher (Translator)
“Everything is possible for those who believe, even more for those who hope, still more for those who love, and most of all for those who practice and persevere in these three powerful paths.”
Since it was first published in its pocket-size 1692 edition, Brother Lawrence’s spiritual classic has remained in print, beloved by people of varying spiritual paths and religious traditions. With this new translation, award-winning translator Carmen Acevedo Butcher frees it from its centuries-long prison of dogmatic, binary language and brings fresh, inclusive treatment that readers are sure to find transformational. Brother Lawrence’s years as a humble kitchen worker at a monastery, often remaining in the shadows of his community, gave way to a spiritual life that was profound. Poor, living with a disability, lacking a formal education, enduring a time of plague and civil unrest, he found God in the depths of his soul, experiencing God’s loving presence throughout the day. His personal struggles and life-tested spiritual wisdom will resonate with contemporary readers as he invites us into a practice of Presence that is both accessible and deeply transformative.
For the first time, Brother Lawrence’s work is translated by Carmen Acevedo Butcher, a woman of color and a renowned scholar of medieval texts, who creates a dynamic, faithful translation for a new generation of readers.
Featured Book for August 2023
by Yolanda Pierce
What if the most steadfast faith you’ll ever encounter comes from a Black grandmother?
The church mothers who raised Yolanda Pierce, dean of Howard University School of Divinity, were busily focused on her survival. In a world hostile to Black women’s bodies and spirits, they had to be. Born on a former cotton plantation and having fled the terrors of the South, Pierce’s grandmother raised her in the faith inherited from those who were enslaved. Now, in the pages of In My Grandmother’s House, Pierce reckons with that tradition, building an everyday womanist theology rooted in liberating scriptures, experiences in the Black church, and truths from Black women’s lives. Pierce tells stories that center the experiences of those living on the underside of history, teasing out the tensions of race, spirituality, trauma, freedom, resistance, and memory.
A grandmother’s theology carries wisdom strong enough for future generations. The Divine has been showing up at the kitchen tables of Black women for a long time. It’s time to get to know that God.
Featured Book for September 2023
by Therese Taylor-Stinson
Harriet Tubman, freedom fighter and leader in the Underground Railroad, is one of the most significant figures in U.S. history. Her courage and determination in bringing enslaved people to freedom have established her as an icon of the abolitionist movement. But behind the history of the heroine called “Moses” was a woman of deep faith.
In Walking the Way of Harriet Tubman, Therese Taylor-Stinson introduces Harriet, a woman born into slavery whose unwavering faith and practices in spirituality and contemplation carried her through insufferable abuse and hardship to become a leader for her people. Her profound internal liberation came from deep roots in mysticism, Christianity, nature spirituality, and African Indigenous beliefs that empowered her own escape from enslavement–giving her the strength and purpose to lead others on the road to freedom.
Harriet’s lived spirituality illuminates a profound path forward for those of us longing for internal freedom, as well as justice and equity in our communities. As people of color, we must cultivate our full selves for our own liberation and the liberation of our communities. As the luminous significance of Harriet Tubman’s spiritual life is revealed, so too is the path to our own spiritual truth, advocacy, and racial justice as we follow in her footsteps.
Featured Book for October 2023
by Leticia Ochoa Adams
Leticia Ochoa Adams met Jesus in a dive bar when she was eighteen years old.
She didn’t actually meet Jesus, but it was there where she first witnessed holiness in action. The bar’s regulars taught her about the importance of community, being honest about who she is, not giving up on people, and how to laugh—even when awful things happen.
In Our Lady of Hot Messes, Ochoa Adams tells the ongoing story of her redemption. At times funny and heartbreaking, but always gritty and unflinchingly honest, her story shows that no matter what you’re dealing with, God wants you to trust in his love.
The Tejana daughter of a single mother—a cycle she would repeat in her own life—Ochoa Adams was sexually abused as a child. She married after a two-week courtship and, eight years later, divorced her husband who struggled with drug addiction. In between she suffered a late-term miscarriage and had three more children back-to-back.
She always thought a dream life meant having a big house, kids, lots of money, and new cars. Since she hadn’t yet cracked the code for the American dream, “I turned to the person that every American woman turns to when looking for a way to make a better life for herself: Oprah.”
Watching the daytime talk show queen helped Ochoa Adams put a name to what happened to her as a child. But she was still searching for something more. Ochoa Adams was baptized Catholic but attended a small-town Baptist church growing up. When she reverted to Catholicism at age thirty-three in order to marry her second husband, Ochoa Adams was convinced that Catholics had all of the answers to life’s toughest questions. But she quickly learned that becoming Catholic didn’t mean she could just erase her bad choices and difficult past. And just when she thought she was getting her life together, her son, Anthony, died by suicide.
God, therapy, and caring priests helped her face her pain and heal her brokenness. She wants you to see yourself in her mistakes, learn from them, and realize along with her that even when we’ve put our trust in God—even if it’s begrudgingly—we still have to do the tough work to become the person God wants us to be.
“I still make mistakes,” she says, “but I’m trying not to live as a hot mess even when things around me are messy.”
When ordering from Ave Maria Press directly use code ADAMS20 for 20% discount.
Featured Book for November 2023
by Kaitlin B. Curtice
“Readers will find abundant wisdom in this accessible guide.”–Publishers Weekly
In an era in which “resistance” has become tokenized, popular Indigenous author Kaitlin Curtice reclaims it as a basic human calling. Resistance is for every human who longs to see their neighbors’ holistic flourishing. We each have a role to play in the world right where we are, and our everyday acts of resistance hold us all together.
Curtice shows that we can learn to practice embodied ways of belonging and connection to ourselves and one another through everyday practices, such as getting more in touch with our bodies, resting, and remembering our ancestors. She explores four “realms of resistance”–the personal, the communal, the ancestral, and the integral–and shows how these realms overlap and why all are needed for our liberation. Readers will be empowered to seek wholeness in whatever spheres of influence they inhabit.
Featured Book for December 2023
by Steven Charleston
From the moment European settlers reached these shores, the American apocalypse began. But Native Americans did not vanish. Apocalypse did not fully destroy them, and it doesn’t have to destroy us.
Pandemics and war, social turmoil and corrupt governments, natural disasters and environmental collapse–it’s hard not to watch the signs of the times and feel afraid. But we can journey through that fear to find hope. With the warnings of a prophet and the lively voice of a storyteller, Choctaw elder and author of Ladder to the Light Steven Charleston speaks to all who sense apocalyptic dread rising around and within.
You’d be hard pressed to find an apocalypse more total than the one Native America has confronted for more than four hundred years. Yet Charleston’s ancestors are a case study in the liberating and hopeful survival of a spiritual community. How did Indigenous communities achieve the miracle of their own survival and live to tell the tale? What strategies did America’s Indigenous people rely on that may help us to endure an apocalypse–or perhaps even prevent one from happening?
Charleston points to four Indigenous prophets who helped their people learn strategies for surviving catastrophe: Ganiodaiio of the Seneca, Tenskwatawa of the Shawnee, Smohalla of the Wanapams, and Wovoka of the Paiute. Through gestures such as turning the culture upside down, finding a fixed place on which to stand, listening to what the earth is saying, and dancing a ghostly vision into being, these prophets helped their people survive. Charleston looks, too, at the Hopi people of the American Southwest, whose sacred stories tell them they were created for a purpose. These ancestors’ words reach across centuries to help us live through apocalypse today with courage and dignity.