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Sep 23, 2013

Book Review: Courage to Think Differently

Signed copies of this remarkable book are available from LPF (as supplies last), $10 including postage and handling, or free with a contribution of $75 or more.

Imagine more than 30 notable prophetic voices sharing their insights on a wide range of issues that matter for our quality of life and the world's survival. That's the theme of Courage to Think Differently, by author and editor George S. Johnson, former director of the American Lutheran Church's hunger program. He brings together a diverse spectrum of writers including Larry Rasmussen, Frances Moore Lappe, Bill Moyers, Vandana Shiva, Elie Wiesel, Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, and David Korten. In the process, Johnson offers us a book so creative, so spiritually compelling that it practically glows in your hands.

"Jesus was constantly encouraging people to think differently…to look at deeper questions that don’t have easy answers," Johnson says. He adds that this book is not about giving pat answers or dispensing guilt; nor is more generosity the answer. A new mindset is called for, that asks questions such as "Am I believing in Christ, or following Christ?"

He also observes that not every person nor everything will change -- or needs to change. The book offers space for the reader to come to conclusions other than the ones presented. The point is to explore in fresh ways the foundations of our thinking and decision-making in the light of our Christian faith. Some of our most creative religious thinkers such as Diana Butler Bass, Walter Bruggemann, Susan Brooks Thistlewaite, Brian McLaren, and Shane Claiborne are all here.

Seven sections offer such creative starting points as "irrelevant religion," "thin democracy," "silence," and more. Teaching aids in the Appendix include "The Shakertown Pledge" (nine declarations for world citizens); and "How to Hang in There for the Long Haul" (21 notes for peace and justice activists). This book is a significant , mind-expanding anthology for every Christian who seeks to "do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God."

-- Reviewed by Lily Wu, LPF board member and editorial consultant

Johnson, George S. Courage to Think Differently. Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications, 2013. 304 pp. Also available from (enter the book title in the search box).