cover image To My Beloveds: Letters on Faith, Race, Loss, and Radical Hope

To My Beloveds: Letters on Faith, Race, Loss, and Radical Hope

Jennifer Bailey. Chalice, $16.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-0-8272-3727-8

Minister Bailey debuts with a wide-ranging, considered collection of essays inspired by the lessons she learned doing restorative community work as founder of the Faith Matters Network. The short entries examine what Bailey terms “radical hope”—or the idea that “the material conditions of the world can be better and that (humans) have the capacity to bring about that change in the here and now”—and its three characteristics: memory, imagination, and living. The pieces, which take the form of letters, focus heavily on Bailey’s faith life and experiences as Black woman, with some addressed to ancestors, personal heroes, and, most poignantly, her own unborn son. Memories of her mother’s death from cancer and a friend’s from suicide are interspersed with reflections about living as “an act of willful defiance against the death dealing forces of hate that would see me and my kindred eradicated and erased from the tomes of history.” Instances of bigotry in Bailey’s life mingle with historical and current violence against Black Americans, as seen in instances of police brutality and a pandemic that has “devastated [Black] communities.” Bailey’s call to action to build bridges and heal communities will resonate widely. (Oct.)