A review of Guillermo Márquez-Sterling’s new book, Rise of the Spiritual Activist: A Beginner’s Guide for Integrating Faith and Justice. In his book, Rev. Márquez-Sterling provides the philosophical foundation for spiritual activism as well as interviews with spiritual activists in the field and a step-by-step guide on how to run a justice effort.Reviewed by Rev. Donna Schaper, Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church, NYC
Don’t you just love it when a book’s title and its pages are integrated? Just like the integration of faith and justice promised in the subtitle, this book marries spirituality and activism. It is just the right gift for the beginner, one who is wondering how to manage the sometimes dryness of social activism with the often wetness of spirituality. It is for the pragmatist and the dreamer alike and helps people have pragmatic dreams and a dreamy pragmatism. While perfect for the beginner, it is written by an expert.
Rev. Marquez Sterling knows his way around in both activism and spirituality and has assembled a group of interviews that has a delightfully prismatic feel to it. From the Jewish Policy maker to the Senior Miami Statesman, back to the Vegans and forward to Gay rights activists, the author gives us a rich sense of the fabric of activism he knows. He playfully gets to the heart and spirit of the matter of activism with each of them, giving us all something new to ask and imagine. How do we find Spirit in the often exhausting work of bringing Spirit into history, economics, human rights, and more? That is his fundamental question, and he answers it with vigor, ecumenism, and mutual respect? There is nothing anti-secular about this pro-Spirit book.
You will leave this book wondering how spirituality and activism ever got separated in the first place. You will learn not to divorce the one from the other, no matter what your issue or placement is. You will know much more about Gandhi, whose version of non-violence is at the heart of the book. You will learn something about loving your enemy and understanding your failures. You will learn to respect many different religious pathways and to know the difference between wrongful activism and spirited activism. And you will be pleased with the specific instructions given about how the parts of activism relate to the whole of spirituality. You might even learn about how to conduct a better meeting or campaign. Think of this book as marriage counseling, really good marriage counseling about bringing pieces together that God never intended to be asunder.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Guillermo Márquez-Sterling is a pastor in the United Church of Christ, where he heard God’s call for justice. He was a part of the Occupy Movement, as well as many other peaceful protests, marches, and demonstrations for people seeking fair labor practices. His expertise is in the strategic planning of organized, peaceful protests. Guillermo has a doctorate from Chicago Theological Seminary, and he lives in Miami with his wife and three children.