‘Reclaiming Prophetic Witness’ is Common Read book

The Unitarian Universalist Association’s Common Read book for the upcoming church year is Reclaiming Prophetic Witness: Liberal Religion in the Public Square, by the Rev. Dr. Paul Rasor. The 105-page book was published in 2013 by Skinner House.

Rasor is director of the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom at Virginia Wesleyan College. He is a UU minister and the author of an earlier book, Faith Without Certainty: Liberal Theology in the Twenty-first Century.

A UU theologian, Rasor dispels the myth that conservative Christianity is the only valid religious voice in national debates on social policy. He calls on religious liberals to bring their religious convictions to bear on current issues.

A discussion guide will be available in October. Reclaiming Prophetic Witness was one of 14 books considered for the Common Read. The book is $15 from the UUA Bookstore, with discounts for purchases of multiple copies.

More information about the selection process is on the Call and Response blog of the UUA’s Faith Development Office. In the forward of the book Rasor writes that there has never been a more important time for UUs to speak about about issues including the environment, immigration, and gender.

New books and videos at the UUA Bookstore

Several new books and videos available from the UUA Bookstore will be useful to leaders of religious education courses and to social justice advocates, including Spiritual Envy: An Agnostic’s QuestSocial Justice Heroes, and the video series Long Strange Trip.

In Spiritual Envy, Michael Krasny, a National Public Radio program host, examines the positive and negative aspects of religion as expressed in culture, literature, and human relationships. The paperback book is $14.95.

Social Action Heroes: Unitarian Universalists Who Are Changing the World, by Michelle Bates Deakin of the UU World staff, includes profiles of UUs who have helped rebuild New Orleans, created community farms in Africa, opposed torture, helped homeless boys in Guatemala, and worked on environmental challenges. Deakin describes the book as “ordinary people doing extraordinary social justice work.” The book was excerpted in the winter issue of UU World. The book is $12.

Long Strange Trip examines the history of Unitarianism and Universalism. Three videos, sold separately, cover the early history of these movements. The editor is Ron Cordes. Each one-hour video is $25.

Also on the bookstore website is a listing of companion resources for Skinner House Books, including discussion guides, videos, articles, and books.

People who made the world better

A new book, Stirring the Nation’s Heart: Eighteen Stories of Prophetic Unitarians and Universalists of the Nineteenth Century, describes how these 18 religious folk, from Julia Ward Howe to Theodore Park and Dorothea Dix, had an idea about how the world could be better, and made that change happen.

Written by Polly Peterson, a freelance writer and member of First Parish in Concord, Mass., Stirring the Nation’s Heart will be useful for religious educators as well as UUs and others wanting to learn more about the big ideas that began with many of our spiritual forbears, including reform of education and treatment of the mentally ill, women’s suffrage, and antiracism work. These were social reformers who played key roles in UU and U.S. history and whose life work made the world a better place. Each chapter includes discussion questions.

Stirring the Nation’s Heart is published by the Unitarian Universalist Association and is available from the UUA Bookstore for $15.