Geography of Grace – The Book
This project has been several years in the making. It has gone through five major edits, countless rewrites and a change in publishers. We are eager and a bit nervous to see it finally hit the streets. We have no illusions that this will be a New York Times best seller, but as a community, we hope it is a useful tool for those who are hungry to see God at work in hard places.
Authors and leaders like Bob Ekblad, Richard Rohr, Shane Claiborne, Phyllis Trible, Ray Bakke and others have given the book a warm reception. To see what these and other leaders are saying about Geography of Grace go click on the book highlight to the right of this page or go here.
We did not set out to write a controversial book, but this book is not without some controversy. We wrote it to honor those who work in the context of poverty and violence, which often pushes leaders to the edge of their faith, and ours as well, if we are honest. As a result, we have taken the “road less traveled,” in our book. Such a road is fraught with danger and all manner of ways to get lost, but as Robert Frost noted, taking the road less travelled “has made all the difference.” We hope it will make a difference with our readers and the communities we serve.
Several who have reviewed the book have recognized and appreciated the risky nature of our journey. One such review comes from Stephan de Beer in Pretoria, South Africa, who writes,
Grace is shared abundantly in the poetic beauty of this book: a grace located in the deepest trenches of human suffering and global urban fractures; a disarming grace, meeting you on every page, robed in profanity, steeped in the incarnation, erupting in surprising, awe-inspiring transformations.
This book offers all of us who sense an invitation to be on the urban margins, some superb handles for the journey – it is not your typical travel guide, but one written for the connoisseur of urban and human marginality, and, if we read carefully enough, a guide book for opening us up to the poetry and profanity of God’s beautiful grace, a grace more than able to make us over, and also the cities in which we live.
Stephan de Beer, CEO, Tshwane Leadership Foundation, Pretoria, South Africa
To purchase Geography of Grace: Doing Theology From Below in either paperback or e-book format, go here. (Amazon will have the print version of the book available within the next month or so, but for now the paperback edition is available directly from Street Psalms Press in an equally safe and secure process that actually provides more income for our work.)
Recently CTM staff Liz Herrera de Cabezas, took time this week for conversation about the book with authors Kris Rocke and Joel Van Dyke:
What has changed in you since you finished the book?
(K) The greatest change is that I’m a little nicer to my wife and kids. Also, Sam, our dog seems to like me better.
(J) I don’t know if I would say that anything has changed “in” me since finishing the book but outwardly I feel in a way I am slowly getting my life back. I had no idea the real cost in undertaking a project like this and although the process has been invigorating, I am very happy that it is finished (at least the English version).
What did you learn through the process?
(K) I learned that writing can be an act of worship. This surprised me, and is something for which I am deeply grateful.
(J) More than I could ever codify in a short statement. In general, thoughtful writing has always been the thing I seem to have the least time for BUT, simultaneously, one of the most spiritually and emotionally edifying. Writing GoG with Kris provided a high-octane dose of the aforementioned “edification.” I also saw in the rigors of having to find quality writing time, the incredible sacrifice my wife and kids made for this project to see the light of day. This process helped me see once again, via the sacrifices of those around me, what a very blessed man I am!!
What is your favorite chapter (section) of the book, and why?
(K) That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child. It’s not that I don’t have a favorite it’s just that my favorite keeps changing depending on my mood, circumstances and whether or not they (my kids) are at their charming best. Right now, my favorite chapter is chapter 18 entitled The New Normal in which Joel and I deal with life inside of the Resurrection. Life looks so different when seen, not just through the lens of the resurrection, but from within its reality.
(J) It is impossible to give a definitive answer to this question although, if pressed into a corner, at the moment I would say my favorite section is the first (“Descending”). It lay’s the foundation for everything else in the book and encapsulates the essence of the conversations we have been in over the years. It is here we do the exegesis of Judges 19 from which we have received our marching orders into the artful dance of seeing and celebrating good news in hard places: “Reflect, Build Counsel, & Speak Out.” Of the 5 chapters in section 1, my favorite is likely “Beautiful Questions” because in writing it I was taken back into forgotten memories from my days pastoring in the streets of North Philadelphia as well as the earliest days of our lives as a family in Central America.
The title of the book is really meaningful for you. Why?
(K) First, I think it’s descriptive of what we set out to do in the book. Secondly, it honors the first principle of all real estate, even God’s: location, location, location.
(J) The title embodies what has animated our lives and our work for almost two decades. With our friends in the Street Psalms community, we have indeed encountered deep pools of God’s grace in some very surprising places and have wanted to explore the question of whether or not there indeed is a geography to grace.
Why is GRACE such a relevant component in theology from below? Why not service, or social justice, or mission?
(K) It seems to me that grace is what makes service, justice and mission not only possible but bearable, especially among the poor who have to endure our endless need to get things right! People from “below” have lived with false categories from “above” for so long that they have calcified into truth with a capital “T”. The only way to break free from toxic forms of truth from above is by the absolutely, insuppressible bubbling up of grace from below.
(J) We have been learning and experiencing that in the most unseemly of places, God’s grace is found in it’s most abundant and often most scandalous form. It is in the art of being “embraced by grace” that ignites the candle of hope in the midst of stifling darkness and despair. Author Lewis Smedes articulates so well what we have been discovering when he writes that “embrace is grace and grace is gamble, always.”