The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice from the Civil Rights Movement to Today

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9780465044160: The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice from the Civil Rights Movement to Today
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A noted theologian explains how the radical idea of Christian love animated the African American civil rights movement and how it can power today's social justice struggles
Speaking to his supporters at the end of the Montgomery bus boycott in 1956, Martin Luther King, Jr., declared that their common goal was not simply the end of segregation as an institution. Rather, "the end is reconciliation, the end is redemption, the end is the creation of the beloved community." King's words reflect the strong religious convictions that motivated the African American civil rights movement. As King and his allies saw it, "Jesus had founded the most revolutionary movement in human history: a movement built on the unconditional love of God for the world and the mandate to live in that love." Through a commitment to this idea of love and to the practice of nonviolence, civil rights leaders sought to transform the social and political realities of twentieth-century America.
In The Beloved Community, theologian and award-winning author Charles Marsh traces the history of the spiritual vision that animated the civil rights movement and shows how it remains a vital source of moral energy today. The Beloved Community lays out an exuberant new vision for progressive Christianity and reclaims the centrality of faith in the quest for social justice and authentic community.

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"Half a century ago an underground army rallied around a vision in order to change the moral landscape of America. Part historian, part raconteur, and part preacher, Charles Marsh calls us to keep alive that vision and to fulfill its promise. I found myself both moved to nostalgia and stirred to action as I read his gripping account." -Philip Yancey, author of What's So Amazing About Grace

"What a magnificent book! Charles Marsh writes eloquently about 'lived theology' in the context of the civil rights movement and related social and religions endeavors such as Koinonia Farm near Americus, Georgia, which emphasized social justice, racial reconciliation and redemption. Read every word. You'll be enlightened, revived, and blessed." -Millard Fuller, Founder and President, Habitat for Humanity International

"Charles Marsh is one of our best theologians, one of our best historians, one of our best storytellers. In this book -- his most expansive and ambitious one to date -- he places the Christian faith of the civil rights movement in a larger context: he shows us the faith that drove that movement, but also shows that its energy is still potent today, among places and people that we pay insufficient attention to. Most important, Marsh articulates a vision for renewal, a way that the larger community of faith can recover its passion for true social justice. This is a vital book by a major American thinker." -Alan Jacobs, author of Shaming the Devil and A Visit to Vanity Fair

"In this fascinating account of faith in action, Charles Marsh examines the necessity of hope, the seemingly contradictory truth that a vision of Christian transcendence animates lasting struggles for social change...The Beloved Community calls Christians back to a politics of empathy and social justice and activists back to the sustaining life of the faith. Marsh aims for nothing less here than the resurrection of the evangelical Christian left." -Grace Elizabeth Hale, Author of Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1940

"Charles Marsh brings the eloquence of a memoirist, the skill of a historian, and the insight of a theologian to this remarkable study of Christian faith and the pursuit of social justice in America. The stories Marsh tells are thrilling, and inspiring, and sometimes sad. This book will want to make you stand up and shout; and kneel and pray; and then go out and do something remarkable." -Lauren F. Winner, author of Girl Meets God and Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity

About the Author:

Charles Marsh is Commonwealth Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and Director of the Project on Lived Theology. He is the author of several award-winning books, including Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God's Long Summer, and The Last Days, and coauthor of Welcoming Justice. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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