A year ago today, I released my latest book, A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation, along with my coauthors Arnita Taylor and Bob Prater. In the year since, our culture has only grown more polarized, regretfully. We’re not blaming the book for that. We always knew a book about peacemaking would be a tough sell in a culture that covets fear and conflict to drive market share and political engagement. We just hope for so much better.
The three of us believe that the issues that divide us wouldn’t seem so insurmountable if we could actually listen to each other, care as much about what others need as much as we do what we need, and create environments to discuss our differences with mutual respect and compassionate hearts. Wherever this book has been read and its encouragements applied, some amazing things have happened in churches, schools, and Zoom conversations. I’m delighted to see so many of my friends finding new ways to care about people who may not think the way they do or look like they do. For the last six weeks, the three of us authors have been helping a college in Texas have a conversation about how to create a new anti-racist institution a team is exploring. We have been amazed at the insightful and reasoned conversation those people are having even though they see the issue very differently. It can be done.
“When you combine courage with compassion, the world can change.” That’s what it says on the back of the book, and we are finding just how true that is. It takes some work. It is easier for many to join the voices of animosity and suspicion in our polarized nation, but the rewards of changing the conversation are worth the risk. We’re excited about those we know personally who are learning to take a different approach to the issues that divide us.
So, if you’ve read and been touched by our little book, and its companion Conversation Guide, would you please help us expand this book’s reach in the world? Consider it a birthday gift for the message in this book. It is not backed by a major publisher or an advertising budget. No one at NY Times or Christianity Today has reviewed. Bob, Arnita, and I have simply been putting it into the world wherever God gives us voice and opportunity and seeing where word-of-mouth will take it.
What can you do? Post one of the pictures below on your social feed, and either write a brief paragraph about how this book has changed your thinking, or quote one of your favorite passages from it. I’ll start. Here’s one of mine. This is from Arnita on page 193 describing the process of writing this book:
It’s not that we just had eighteen months of holding hands; we have had passionate disagreements! We just have not had conflict that couldn’t be talked through. We were able to be gentle, ask questions, and stay factual, and we didn’t attach excessive emotions to our own point of view. We’ve been honest because whatever concern does not rise to the surface cannot be addressed or healed. Additionally, we’ve been committed to the common goal of finishing this conversation with respect and honor.”
My growing friendship with Bob and Arnita and the content of this book have transformed me in ways I had not imagined. It has changed the way I seek out and interact with people who are different than me, as well as helping my friends realize there is a different conversation to be had about politics, race, religion, and sexuality that the political parties, the media, and even religious leaders try to prevent us from having.
If you haven’t explored this little book, maybe in the aftermath of such a contentious election you, too, might be ready for a different conversation. This book isn’t about changing the culture in Washington or our media but changing our conversation with the people around us. A language of healing will only take hold in the world one person, one conversation, or one engagement at a time.
Feel free to download or copy a picture below and post it somewhere with your own personal story of how this book impacted you or posting a favorite quotation from it. You can link back to this page, our book page, or even Amazon’s listing. If you want to order discounted copies in bulk to start a discussion group or give away for Christmas, you can find them at Blue Sheep Media.
Let’s see if we can grow this conversation and put a different spirit in the wind. We are grateful for whatever you can do to help us.