Like all good writers, Johnathan Wilson-Hartgrove comes at his topic from a strong perspective. Yet The Awakening of Hope reads not like an injunction, indictment, condemnation, or hard-sell, but like an invitation. It is a compelling call to a messy, often complicated, frequently difficult, but also joyful, fun, and rewarding journey. This is a book about New Monasticism without feeling academic or removed, and without making a more conventionally oriented reader feel ostracized.
Wilson-Hartgrove starts with the assumption of an ongoing revival, not of soul or spirit or words, but of Christian action and activism in the world. The hope Jonathan writes about is not ethereal or mystical– it is here, and it is now. At the same time, he is too wise to suggest a bifurcation between orthodoxy (‘right belief’) and orthopraxy (‘right practice’), for he knows well how interrelated they are. So he writes about common things:
as he embeds his ideals in everyday life. His chapter on nonviolence is especially powerful, as Wilson-Hartgrove writes eloquently and determinately of “a God who would rather die in love that guarantee justice by the threat of violence” (131), and why the followers of God would therefore “rather die than kill”.
The video curriculum which accompanies the book is particularly thought-provoking, especially since it eschews restatement of the book’s theses in favor of interviews with folks who are living out these principles. Even better, many of the connections between the book and video material are initially unclear, making it all the more useful for engagement and discussion.
What is perhaps the most ringing endorsement of this book is that the folks in our church– the very post-modern, post-religion, post-organization people who are called out in the foreword of this book– have whole-heartedly embraced it for a mid-week study and discussion. It promises to be a fascinating and rewarding journey.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.