Shaking the System: What I Learned from the Great American Reform Movements

Tim Stafford, Author . InterVarsity $17 (176p) ISBN 978-0-8308-3436-5

Stafford, author of Never Mind the Joneses , presents another book of great clarity and insight—this time for the socially conscious Christian. With easy-to-follow analysis, Stafford explores four great social reform movements of American history (abolition, prohibition, women's suffrage and civil rights) and extracts lessons for contemporary activists. He points out that all these historic movements had deep roots in faith-based communities and that the most successful factions drew strength from a simple core truth (e.g., “slavery is sin,” or “women are equal to men”). Every movement also had its fractures and conflicts, its failures and burnouts. Stafford pulls out intriguing details that readers won't have learned in civics class to illustrate the pros and cons of pressure tactics, the inevitable temptation to violence and the dangers of political compromise. Stafford is nuanced and therefore persuasive—he does not entirely rule out violence and politics, but uses compelling stories to warn about their limitations. Perhaps the central message is that the world—and the Kingdom of God—need “passionate yet durable” activists: people who are rooted in community life and able to follow the rush of early idealism with the dogged lifelong stamina needed to cement change. This is required reading for every evangelical Christian with a social conscience. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 07/23/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
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