Young, Woke and Christian: Words from a Missing Generation
Victoria Turner (Editor)
SCM Press, 2022
Review by Carole Marsden, Shrewsbury and Shropshire Minister for the URC in the West Midlands
If you are baffled by ‘in’ words and enjoy turning the pages of familiar subjects from first world theologians just looking at the front cover of this book may put you off. However, if that is you, I would urge you to turn back and reconsider.
Young, Woke and Christian; Words from a Missing Generation is something distinctly different. A varied array of thoughtful reflections that can be engaged with piecemeal or whole. I am a dib-in-and-out reader, and I would recommend its reading in that way as the topics have no necessary order and each chapter invites reflection.
The contributors are indeed younger that average for theological books, from a variety of different church backgrounds and traditions and thankfully provide an explanation of what ‘woke’ means to this book. I found this incredibly helpful and have a new appreciation of the word, here described as the concept of being conscious and engaged in the issues of the day.
The chapters are wide ranging. Whilst some feel like old stomping grounds with reflections on interfaith, race and feminism there is something new about this collection. Chapters on the climate, purity culture, trans, food poverty and homelessness push our traditional boundaries and offer something new and distinct. There is little heavy theological language and at times the varied styles could jar but that is also its strength. Each chapter feels owned by its author, from their place, their time and in their own words.
I suspect those looking to criticise this offering would suggest some of the authors will ‘grow up’ and change their stance whilst others may ‘see through’ their naivety and idealistic high hopes when they have experienced ‘real life.’ To those tempted to comment like this I ask you to stop and reconsider your attitude to these theologians. They are offering their views on the world, from their experiences, with their hopes, ideals and visions of a better world still passionate and possible. If we fail to read, reflect and respond they will continue to be a missing generation.
That this is a book the church needs to take note of is clear. There is no claim to be the only missing generation, but they are, if we are honest, the generation of active, articulate, educated and enthusiastic young adults that most churches profess to wanting to attract after the usual ‘we want more children’ comment.
My personal highlights were the challenging reflection offered by Shermara Fletcher considering how the church responds to homelessness and the biblical reflections within that chapter on whether we give worth to those with no wealth. In addition, Jack Woodruffs’s Trans and Christian? and Chrissie Thwaite’s Waking up to Ableism provide sobering reads and a call for us to re consider our life as Church.
For preachers reading this book, it contains a wealth of personal stories and experiences that invite us to consider these topics from a new angle. We were all young once and yet the world has moved on and we can no longer presume we know what it feels to be ‘young, woke and Christian’” Each chapter also provides useful further reading within the notes for those who are interested.
Save 10% on the RRP when you order this book from chbookshop.co.uk. Add the voucher code PREACHER22 at the basket to receive the discount:
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