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Featured Book for January 2023

The God Who Riots: Taking Back the Radical Jesus

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.

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Community Questions

Community Questions from Claudia Love Mair

Week 1

  1. Central in The God Who Riots is the story of Jesus driving the money changers from the temple courts (Matt 21:12-13). What is your reaction to this story? Has it changed over time?
  2. Damon asserts, “Again and again, the God of the Bible chooses the side of the oppressed.” In his introduction (p.xi) he says, “Justice requires us to choose sides.” What is your response to this statement?
  3. In the introduction (p.xiii) Damon writes, “We can either use our faith to empower us to transform the world or use our faith to justify the world as it is... And both of these forms of faith have shaped our history, always at tension.” What are some ways you see this tension currently?

Week 2

  1. On page 7 Damon writes, “Salvation is about the collective fate of a nation. Salvation is about an actual experience of physical liberation during this lifetime.” How does your current understanding of salvation align with his?
  2. In chapter one Damon writes about "the widening," a time in which his beliefs expanded beyond what his denomination would view as right teaching. Has there ever been a time in your life that you felt this kind of widening of your beliefs? What was that experience like for you?
  3. If you had to answer a questionnaire based on the beliefs of your denomination or faith community, what is a question you wouldn't feel comfortable answering truthfully?

Week 3

  1. Damon writes, "Affirming your whole self as full of beauty and deserving of love and justice is courageous in a world that suppresses us in this way." (p.22) How are beauty and love related to justice?
  2. On page 27 Damon describes blessing, "To claim someone is blessed is a way of saying God is on their side. A blessing is an assertion that they are favored, they are holy, and they are full of beauty exactly as they are.” On the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus blesses those we would least expect. Who would Jesus say is blessed today?
  3. On Christian violence, Damon writes, “It's important that Christians be honest about this history, not so that we may be overcome with sorrow and shame, but so that we can understand the healing and reparation that we are called to take part in.” (p.57) This kind of honesty can be deeply uncomfortable to sit with. How can Christians get through the discomfort and move into healing and making amends?

Week 4

  1. It isn't uncommon for people of color to see themselves through a white lens. Damon writes, “It’s difficult to name our own experience when we are constantly indoctrinated with others’ descriptions of our experiences and pressure to affirm their descriptions in order to survive.” (p.59) What are some ways faith communities can make space for BILPOC Christians to name their own experiences in order to create a new world that serves and honors everyone?
  2. Is preaching against racism and embodying a spirit of repentance in our worship spaces enough? What else do Christians of color need in our spiritual communities?
  3. In chapter 8, “A Riot at the Temple,” Damon unpacks Jesus’ overturning the tables at the temple as a conscious act of riot to shut down the temples activities and get peoples’ attention. How has reading this chapter, and the entire book, changed the way you think about this story


The God Who Riots Discussion Questions from Broadleaf Books.