Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Book Review - Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds

This book presents and interesting paradox - you cannot read it and walk away thinking that you are doing enough. Sounds somewhat depressing, I know! And yet, it actually provides a course of action - big things, little things, things that any one of us can do - to make a difference. It's a book for real people that just want to leave this place a little better than when they got here. And although the book is definitely written from the angle of a Christian and contains Biblical support for the statements and claims within, it is a book for all of us. Anyone that wants to do something for the greater good of humankind.

The title of the book comes from the fact that in many Bibles the words of Jesus are set off in Red Letters - thus "this distinction reminds us that when God becomes Man and speaks, it is probably something we cannot afford to miss." And that's what author Tom Davis does - he takes those words of Christ, those words that call us to the front lines to actually DO something for one another. For the "least of us." And he made me feel guilty and excited all at the same time!

Tom starts the book off with a direct challenge: "Those of us who claim to follow Christ's teachings should be ashamed for what little we've done to help the countless millions of women, children and orphans who have died or are dying. Entire nations are going up in flames while we watch them burn."

Most of the book focuses on the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa - a cause that is (obviously) very close to my heart. A cause that, frankly, most people don't care much about it. Or, perhaps more accurately, a cause that the average American is very ignorant about. And you know what they say, ignorance is bliss. A year ago, I was among the happy ignorant. After all, how did HIV affect me? And HIV in Africa? Please. Yes, in theory I thought it was very sad and all, but did I spend more than a moment's emotion on it? Honestly (and somewhat embarrassingly) no. But I don't think you can adopt from Ethiopia (or maybe you shouldn't) if you don't take a hard look at that disease. Africa suffers from many killers, including TB and malaria, not to mention poor nutrition and dehydration, but AIDS has become the face of Africa. To realize my children-to-be would likely have lost nearly everything in their lives in some way to this disease, well that realization changed my whole outlook. It became important to me to become educated. How could I raise my children to honor and respect their culture without understanding something that had become a fundamental part of it? A fundamental antagonist of it. Thus HIV awareness has become a strong interest of mine.

You may have noticed that "HIV" is now a category on this blog and posts relating to that are showing up more often. The main reason is that I have agreed to blog about
HIV awareness for RLC. I'm excited for the opportunity. It's a small thing. But its something. If I inspire just one person to do something, heck, if I can teach even one person something - it is certainly worth my time.

And that brings me back to the point of the post - the book. ;) (yes, I get off track!) Chapter upon chapter, story upon story of despair and yet pure hope. The kind of hope that can only come from a higher power - whatever you want to call it. The hell on Earth that millions of people are living in, yet the love and hope that they still have. And, the words of God that instruct us to help them, to give them a reason to have hope.

And, unlike so many writers on this subject, Tom doesn't stop there. He provides an answer. Or, more accurately, he opens the door by suggesting the start of an answer. Suggesting things that we can do in as little as five minutes a day that make a difference. If I step back and consider all the issues out there in the world - the disease, the poverty, the exploitation - it is just too much. But to see it broken down? I can do 5 minutes. So let's start there.

Check out the book. Then give 5 minutes of your time. I promise, it'll be just the beginning.


Michelle Riggs said...

Great book and review.

Thanks for spreading the word.

carolyn said...

Love your blog! You may just have convinced me to check out RLC.....