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Books for a Better World

May 10, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Join this first-ever-gathering of multifaith leaders and authors brought together for the first time by Auburn Theological Seminary, Middle Collegiate Church and Faith in Public Life, in partnership with the world-renowned Strand Books. We’ll be giving away signed books from each author throughout the event. (And parents, there’s a kids’ section, too!)

Click here to register and receive Zoom information!


Who is America?

Wajahat Ali: Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American

Sr. Simone Campbell SSS: Hunger for Hope: Prophetic Communities, Contemplation and the Common Good

Dr. Robyn Henderson Espinoza: Body Becoming: A Path to Our Liberation


Where faith leads us

Rev. Jen Butler: Who Stole My Bible? Reclaiming Scripture as a Handbook for Resisting Tyranny

Valarie Kaur: See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love

Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Roshi:  Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation


The Healing We Inherit

Lisa Sharon Harper: Fortune: How Race Broke My Family and the World–and How to Repair It All

Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce: In My Grandmother’s House: Black Women, Faith, and the Stories We Inherit

By Kat Armas: Abuelita Faith: What Women on the Margins Teach Us about Wisdom, Persistence, and Strength


For the kids: Books for a Better Future

Simran Jeet Singh: Fauja Singh Keeps Going

Jamia Wilson: This Book is Feminist

Jordan Thierry: A Kids Book About Systemic Racism



Brian McLaren: Do I Stay Christian? A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis: Fierce Love: A Bold Path to Ferocious Courage and Rule-Breaking Kindness That Can Heal the World

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis: You are so Wonderful


The program will be moderated by Jeanné Lewis. Jeanné is the incoming Interim CEO of Faith in Public Life. She is a nonprofit executive, faith-based organizer, and authority on creating empowered communities. She has dedicated her career to building bridges, closing equity gaps and creating policies that lead to strong, thriving and self-determined cities.


Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American By Wajahat Ali

“Go back to where you came from, you terrorist!” is just one of many warm and helpful tips Wajahat and other children of immigrants received growing up. But go back where, exactly? Fremont, California, where he grew up? Or Pakistan, the country his parents left behind a half-century ago? In this refreshingly bold, hopeful, and uproarious memoir, he tackles the dangers of Islamophobia, white supremacy, and chocolate hummus, with personal stories and astute insights into national security, immigration, and pop culture. He offers indispensable lessons for cultivating a more compassionate, inclusive, and delicious America.

Wajahat Ali, author, playwright, columnist (New York Times, Daily Beast), and proud dad, is one of the foremost and funniest public intellectuals around on news, politics, and all things “Muslim-y”.


Abuelita Faith: What Women on the Margins Teach Us about Wisdom, Persistence, and Strength By Kat Armas

Kat’s earliest theological formation came from her grandmother, her abuelita, who fled Cuba during the height of political unrest and raised three children alone after her husband passed. Abuelita Faith tells the story of those unnamed and overlooked theologians in society and the Bible—the mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters—whose survival, strength, resistance, and persistence teach the true power of faith and love. Combining personal storytelling with biblical reflection, Kat shows us how those who are often dismissed, isolated, and oppressed due to their race, gender, socioeconomic status, or lack of education, have much to teach us about following God. This exploration of abuelita theology will help people of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds reflect on the abuelitas in their lives, and how they can live out abuelita faith every day.

Kat Armas is a Cuban American writer and podcaster from Miami. She holds a dual MDiv and MAT from Fuller Theological Seminary and is pursuing a ThM at Vanderbilt Divinity School. She is working on her second book, Sacred Belonging: A 40-day Devotional on the Liberating Heart of Scripture.


Who Stole My Bible? Reclaiming Scripture as a Handbook for Resisting Tyranny

by Rev. Jennifer Butler

The Bible has been hijacked and Rev. Butler is taking it back. A book filled with stories new, personal, and profound, Who Stole My Bible? shows us from Genesis to Revelation, how the Bible is an inspiring handbook for finding your resistance oppression of any kind. Each chapter illustrates the lessons of scripture with true stories of courageous religious communities opposing authoritarianism and white supremacy in America today, and countering the use and abuse of sacred text to justify racism, sexism, reactionary politics, and violence. Who Stole My Bible? connects us with generations of prophets and leaders, and as Rev. Butler discovered, rekindled her love for Christian spirituality and the Bible as a commitment to a more just and compassionate world.

Rev. Jennifer Butler is founder and CEO of Faith in Public Life, and former chair of the White House Council on Faith and Neighborhood Partnerships. She was named one of Center for American Progress’ 22 Faith Leaders to Watch in 2022 


Body Becoming: A Path to Our Liberation By Robyn Henderson-Espinoza

The body that Robyn Henderson-Espinoza inhabits is a nonbinary, trans body in two races, and a body continually in discovery. With a Mexican mother and Anglo father, Dr. Robyn was always negotiating the in-between spaces, and this became especially important during their college years as they navigated being mixed-raced Latinx, queer and gender nonconforming. Body Becoming offers us a way of understanding the body beyond political or medical-industrial-complex constructions. Mixing memoir and faith, somatics theory and body practice, Dr. Robyn steers us through territory both familiar and difficult. We discover embodiment as the primary place of deep wisdom, where culture shifts originate and materialize, and a better world becomes, as we too become. Non-binary Transgender, queer, and Latinx, Dr. Robyn relishes in the gray areas of life knowing that the liminal spaces are spaces of possibility for another possible world.

Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, PhD, is Founder/Curator of Intersectional Movement Making

At The Activist Theology Project, a collaborative project dedicated to social healing, rooted in politicized theology initiatives using story as the primary method for social change. They are ordained in the Baptist tradition.


Fortune: How Race Broke My Family and the World–and How to Repair It All

By Lisa Sharon Harper

Ms. Harper tells the story of 10 generations of her family, recovering the beauty of her heritage as she exposes the brokenness that race has wrought in America. Fortune, Ms. Harper’s first nonindigenous ancestor born on American soil, bore the brunt of the first race, gender, and citizenship laws. With decades of research, Harper traces her family’s story through succeeding generations, and shows how racialized American ideas, customs, and laws robbed her ancestors—and the ancestors of so many others—of their humanity and flourishing. In doing so, she also casts a compelling vision for collective repair.

Lisa Sharon Harper is the author of the best-selling The Very Good Gospel, and president and founder of Freedom Road, LLC. She hosts the Freedom Road podcast and co-hosts The FOUR:  A fearsome faith foursome talkin’ about Black Life, Love, Power & Joy


See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love By Valarie Kaur 

Valarie declares Revolutionary Love as the call of our time—a radical, joyful practice that extends in three directions: to others, to our opponents, and to ourselves. It enjoins us to see no stranger and instead look at others and say: You are a part of me I do not yet know.

Valarie draws from the wisdom of sages, scientists, and activists—and her personal journey—as a brown girl, galvanized by the murders of Sikhs after 9/11, who fought injustices in American prisons and Guantánamo Bay, as she tries to heal from her own experiences with sexual assault and police violence. In See No Stranger, Valarie discovers practices to bring us longevity, resilience, and joy, and offers a practical guide to changing the world, joined together by Revolutionary Love as medicine for our times. 

Valarie Kaur is a Sikh activist, filmmaker, civil rights lawyer, educator, innovator, and now best-selling author. She leads the Revolutionary Love Project to reclaim love as a force for justice. In 2016, her Watch Night Service address went viral with 40 million views worldwide.


Fierce Love: A Bold Path to Ferocious Courage and Rule-Breaking Kindness That Can Heal the World By Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis

Dr. Lewis’s experiences—the first female and first Black minister in her church’s history, her interracial marriage, making peace with childhood abuse—inspires empathy and forgiveness and ubuntu, the Zulu philosophy, “I am, because you are.” Rather than buying into race and ethnicity, caste and color, gender and sexuality, class and education, religion and political party as demographic labels that reduce our differences to simplistic categories in which “we” are vehemently against “them”, Fierce Love counters with nine daily practices for breaking through tribalism and engineering the change we seek. Kindness, compassion, and inclusive thinking are muscles that can be exercised and strengthened. The reader will find power and hope in the small, morally courageous steps to heal our own lives, our posse, and our larger communities. Fierce Love is a bighearted, healing antidote to our rancorous culture.

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis is Senior Minister of the Middle Collegiate Church in New York City and the first African American woman to lead the oldest church in the U.S., dating back to 1625. She co-hosts several podcasts including The FOUR: A fearsome faith foursome talkin’ about Black Life, Love, Power & Joy.


Do I Stay Christian? A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned By Brian McLaren

Do I Stay Christian? addresses the powerful question that surprising numbers of people—including pastors, priests, and other religious leaders—are asking in private. Do I Stay Christian? is not McLaren’s attempt to persuade Christians to dig in their heels or run for the exit. Instead, he combines his own experience with that of thousands of people who have confided in him over the years to help readers make a responsible, honest, ethical decision about their religious identity.

McLaren says there is a way to say both yes and no to the question of staying Christian, by shifting the focus from whether we stay Christian to how we stay human. If Do I Stay Christian? is the question you or someone you love is asking—this is the book you’ve been waiting for.

Brian D. McLaren is a best-selling author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. He has published more than 20 books, find a full list here


 In My Grandmother’s House: Black Women, Faith, and the Stories We Inherit

By Yolanda Pierce

What if the most steadfast faith you’ll ever encounter comes from a Black grandmother? 

Yolanda Pierce’s grandmother and church mothers raised her in the faith inherited from those who were enslaved. In the pages of In My Grandmother’s House, Pierce reckons with that tradition, building an everyday womanist theology rooted in liberating scriptures, experiences in the Black church, and truths from Black women’s lives. Pierce tells stories that center the experiences of those living on the underside of history, teasing out the tensions of race, spirituality, trauma, freedom, resistance, and memory. The Divine has been showing up at the kitchen tables of Black women for a long time. It’s time to get to know that God.

Dr. Yolanda Pierce is a scholar of African American Religious History, Womanist Theology, and Literature and Religion.


Hunger for Hope: Prophetic Communities, Contemplation and the Common Good

By Sr. Simone Campbell SSS

Sr. Simone is a consummate listener and storyteller of the stories of those we neglect to hear. In Hunger for Hope she weaves together our fractured nation, grounded in the mandate of Catholic Social Teaching, to encounter each other and share the truths that we discover.  Hunger for Hope explores the quest for a justice that works for all and explores what it means to be “holy” in today’s world. Winner: Silver Medal, Illumination Book Awards 2021.

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS is the executive director (ret’d) of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice and leader of the “Nuns on the Bus” campaign. She is a member of the Sisters of Social Service, an attorney, and a poet based in Washington, D.C.


 Fauja Singh Keeps Going By Simran Jeet Singh

Every step forward is a victory. The true story of Fauja Singh, who became the first 100-year-old to run a marathon, shares valuable lessons on the source of his grit, determination to overcome obstacles, and commitment to positive representation of the Sikh community.

Fauja Singh was born with legs that wouldn’t allow him to play cricket with his friends or carry him to school miles from his village in Punjab. But he was also born determined. Working on his family’s farm, Fauja grew strong and he never stopped striving. At the age of 81, he decided to run his first marathon and he went on to break records all around the world.

With exuberant text by Simran Jeet Singh and exhilarating illustrations by Baljinder Kaur, the true story of Fauja Singh reminds us that it’s both where we start and how we finish that make our journeys unforgettable.

Simran Jeet Singh is Executive Director for the Aspen Institute’s Religion & Society Program and author of a new book coming out this summer: The Light We Give: How Sikh Wisdom Can Transform Your Life (Riverhead, Penguin Random House), available for pre-order now. In 2020, TIME Magazine recognized him among sixteen people fighting for a more equal America. 


A Kids Book About Systemic Racism By Jordan Thierry

Systemic racism is incredibly difficult to understand—even for grownups! This book was made to help kids understand what systemic racism is and how it’s built into laws, schools, stories, and other institutions in a way that collectively makes life much harder for people of color.

Jordan Thierry is a documentary filmmaker, activist, and storyteller. He has worked for over a decade to highlight the stories of people of color and working to undo the ongoing legacy of systemic racism in the U.S.


Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation by By Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Roshi

Rev. Williams represents a new voice in American Buddhism, and Radical Dharma ignites a long-overdue dialogue about how the legacy of racial injustice and white supremacy play out in society at large, and Buddhist communities in particular, to prevent our collective awakening.

Teachings that transcend color, class, and caste remain hindered by discrimination and the dynamics of power, shame, and ignorance. Radical Dharma’s illuminating argument advances a new dharma that deconstructs rather than amplifies systems of suffering, and prepares us to weigh the shortcomings of our own minds and our communities. A new path to reconciliation and self-liberation rests on radical honesty, a common ground where we can drop our need for perfection and propriety, and speak as souls. The Black prophetic tradition and the wisdom of the Dharma bridge the world of spirit and activism in Radical Dharma, demonstrating how spirituality, social transformation, inclusiveness, and healing must be articulated and inextricably linked.

Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Roshi, is a critically acclaimed author, Zen priest, fierce activist, master teacher, and founder of the Center for Transformative Change in Berkeley, CA.


This Book is Feminist By Jamia Wilson 

A vibrantly illustrated introduction to intersectional feminism for next-generation changemakers, this book is a must-read guide for young people seeking to understand that the ‘personal is political’. This new feminist classic expands what feminism means to young people, community and society. Ms. Wilson analyses her own experiences before expanding outwards and drawing on data and quotes from feminist firebrands and activists, to inspire and encourage. Each chapter ends with a ‘Call To Action’ to encourage young readers to reflect on and embrace their own interpretation of feminism, acknowledge the connection between race, class, gender, disability and economic justice, and what can be done with our strengths, community and values to help change course when needed.

Jamia Wilson is vice president and executive editor at Random House. 



May 10, 2022
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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Rev. Benjamin Perry