Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Trim: 6 x 9
978-1-4422-2331-8 • Hardback • August 2014 • $45.00 • (£35.00)
978-1-4422-2332-5 • eBook • August 2014 • $42.50 • (£33.00)
Kerry Walters, an award-winning author and speaker, is William Bittinger Chair of Philosophy at Gettysburg College. His latest books include The Art of Dying and Living and Giving Up god...to Find God: Breaking Free of Idolatry.
Riffing on Søren Kierkegaard’s rebuke of 'respectable Christianity,' Walters, a philosophy professor at Gettysburg College, delivers up 18 profiles of contemporary Christians as models of physical, moral, and spiritual courage who are unafraid to go against the grain. Walters resists hagiography and focuses rather on the humanity of his subjects. In his account of the 2005 murder in Brazil of 73-year-old Catholic sister Dorothy Stang, who stood up to powerful ranchers, Walters eloquently evokes Stang’s final moments: 'One of them held a revolver. Dorothy reached into the cloth bag she always carried with her and pulled out her well-read Bible. ‘This is my weapon.’' Two thousand people attended her funeral. Artful prose and elegant logic stand out in Walters’s writing. Christian courage, he writes, requires reconciling one’s own will to God’s will, which requires love. Love is developed by 'letting go' of fear and 'letting be' what is of God, skills only acquired through prayer, breaking 'free of the me-centric universe’s gravity field.' Each of Kerry’s subjects lead lives replete with meaning, embedded in robust communities of faith. In this age of alienation, there is a hunger for Kerry’s invitation to courageous living, but how many will seek it out?
— Publishers Weekly
This concise anthology from Walters offers 18 profiles of contemporary or near-contemporary Christians, selected because of their extraordinary courage (physical, moral, or spiritual, though the author acknowledges that these distinctions are not precise). Some of the figures treated (e.g., C. S. Lewis, Henri Nouwen) are widely known, but the author sheds fresh light on dimensions of their lives that will be new to most. Many more of the subjects are likely to be completely new to readers. Walters's way of telling their stories strikes just the right balance between placing these individuals in their cultural context and letting their powerful stories stand on their own. To accept that this volume is better suited to a nightstand than a reference collection is not to discount its value in any way. Each individual story is compelling in its own right, and the power of the stories is further enhanced by the ensemble format used and by Walters's skillful recounting. An index makes the material more accessible, and a short bibliography for each chapter maps out resources for further inquiry. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers.
— Choice Reviews
In every age the church has been renewed by the witness of those who remained faithful to the end, regardless of the cost. But the ‘cost of discipleship’ takes different forms, not all of them involving the shedding of blood. Daily life supplies its own smaller arenas: the challenge to stand up for a stranger, to defend an unpopular principle, to confront family members when they are wrong. Sometimes it means confronting our own doubts, anxieties, and inner demons. Whatever the case, it is courage that enables us to face these costs—the kind of courage displayed in the stories gathered here in this fantastically inspiring book.
— Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time