8/13/13 ASHLAND, Ohio - Dr. Peter Slade, associate professor of religion at Ashland University, is the co-editor of “Mobilizing for the Common Good: The Lived Theology of John M. Perkins,” a new book published this month by the University Press of Mississippi. In addition to editing the book, Slade contributed the introduction and a chapter to the volume.
Slade said that Perkins was born into a sharecropping family in New Hebron, Miss., in 1930. Having only received a third-grade education, Perkins went on to become a pioneering prophetic African American voice for reconciliation and social justice to America's white evangelical churches, he said.
“’Mobilizing for the Common Good’ is an exploration of the theological significance of John M. Perkins,” Slade said. “With contributions from theologians, historians, and activists, this book contends that Perkins ushered in a paradigm shift in 20th-century evangelical theology that continues to influence Christian community development projects and social justice activists today.”
Slade said Perkins has received surprisingly little attention from historians of modern American religious history and theologians.
“Often an unwelcome voice and always a passionate, provocative clarion, Perkins persisted for 40 years in bringing about the formation of the Christian Community Development Association -- a large network of evangelical churches and community organizations working in America's poorest communities -- and inspired the emerging generation of young evangelicals concerned with releasing the Church from its cultural captivity and oppressive materialism,” he said.
“I took a group of Ashland University students down to Mississippi in 2011 -- as part of my Civil Rights and Religion class -- and we met with John Perkins,” Slade said. “I described this meeting in the introduction.”
The book has been praised by a number of people.
“This prophetic book gives us a rich variety of visions and viewpoints grounded in the living legend we love and respect called John Perkins,” said Cornel West, professor of philosophy and Christian practice at Union Theological Seminary and professor emeritus at Princeton University.
“John Perkins has been an inspiration to Christian believers of many sorts throughout his faithful life as prophet, organizer, preacher, reconciler and burr-under-the-saddle. This collection of solid essays not only celebrates his achievements appropriately, but also expands upon those achievements with effective challenges and insights that carry on his legacy,” said Mark Noll, author of “God and Race in American Politics: A Short History.”
“Finally, a book that does justice to the life, work and thought of John M. Perkins,” said Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School. “Perkins, I believe, is the material embodiment of God's imagination for the world. It takes time to receive such a challenging life. It takes time to understand the implications of a life so determined by the Gospel. But this book is a wonderful start and I am extremely grateful that we now have it in print.”
Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2013, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###