Publisher's Letter - April 2019

Posted by Orbis Books on

Twenty-five years ago, Kelly Brown Douglas, an Episcopal priest, womanist theologian, and now dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, published her first book with us, The Black Christ. In a new anniversary edition, published this month, she describes the journey that led to this work, and how her thinking has progressed in the meantime. In particular, Douglas has analyzed the ideology of white supremacy and its role in the founding myth of American exceptionalism. She has developed these ideas in such works as her recent Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, and in penetrating essays in Anti-Blackness and Christian Ethics and the ever-relevant Faith and Resistance in the Age of Trump.

The growing threat of white supremacy, underlying recent mass shootings at black churches and at synagogues, has received renewed attention in light of last month’s horrifying attack on mosques in New Zealand, and a manifesto by the killer in which he decried Muslims as “invaders” in a white land. It brings to mind the urgent relevance of other recent titles, including Jeannine Hill-Fletcher’s The Sin of White Supremacy: Christianity, Racism, & Religious Diversity in America, and of books that open dialogue and understanding between Christians and Muslims, such as In the Spirit of St. Francis & the Sultan: Catholics and Muslims Working for the Common Good by Deacon George Dardess and Marvin L. Mich, or Maryknoll Father Bob McCahill’s I Am Indeed Your Brother: A Servant of Jesus among Allah’s Poor.

One person who has led the world in his efforts to promote dialogue and understanding between people of all faiths is Pope Francis, who has just marked the sixth anniversary of his papacy. This month features a fascinating new book, The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Account of the Conclave that Changed History by Gerard O’Connell, a distinguished Vatican correspondent. With extraordinary sources from inside the secret conclave, he tells the story of how Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio—a distant prospect going into the conclave—emerged as pope, and what this would mean for the global church. Fr. Jim Martin, SJ has said, “Reads like a thriller…The closest you’ll get to a conclave unless you’re named a cardinal.”

On a sad note, we honor the memory of Denis Edwards, a beloved and influential theologian from Australia, who died suddenly last month, just after completing his final book for us. A pioneer in promoting the dialogue between Christian theology and the spirit of ecology, his many books included several with Orbis, such as Ecology at the Heart of Faith. Watch this fall for his last work, Deep Incarnation, a moving expression of the faith underlying his theological work.

Robert EllsbergIn the spirit of St. Francis, may we be instruments of God’s Peace.

Robert Ellsberg

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