Riverside BookClub – October
Join the Riverside Church Book Club with Dr. Smith to review her book, Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul, published by Whitaker House.
The book choice was inspired in part by the gradually escalating turbulence associated with American politics, — turbulence unheard of, since the violence that erupted near the end of the 1960’s – in spite of Dr. Martin Luther King’s calls for non-violence. Indeed, social science researchers have been noting that social justice activism has become an extremely stressful enterprise, particularly for Progressives, who are “pushing back” against the “far right”, fearing tht they will reverse gains brought by the Civil Rights Movement.
For example, Kennith Smith, in “Politics is Making Us Sick” attempted to track the negative impact of political engagement on public health during the Trump administration, as the country moved toward the 2020 presidential election. His team interviewed 800 people in 2017 and interviewed 700 of them again just before the 2020 election. They tracked stress indicators such as loss of sleep, suicidal thoughts, inability to stop thinking about politics and intemperate social media posts. They documented a statistically significant rise in such stress indicators, particulary for young adults on the “political left”. K. Tutashinda, in “The Stress of Politics in Lifestyles in African American Development” also observed social activists from marginalized groups such as African Americans, the Latin X generations, members of the LGBTQIA community and called for “self care” for social activists.
Rest for the Justice Seeking Soul, by Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith in that tradition. However, while concerned about the “self care” of social justice activists, unlike most writings on that topic, she focuses on the value of establishing an intimate relationship with God. The book contains a three month supply of daily devotions. It is designed to become a companion that is accessible, even in the midst of “the struggle”. The book is available in both paperback and can be ordered instantly.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rev. Dr. Susan K Smith is Director of Clergy and Resource Development at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc. (SDPC). She has been a past member of its Board of Directors and is currently Secretary of the Board. Proctor is a social justice ministry that seeks to empower churches and ministers in urban settings as they deal with problems they face within that context. Dr. Smith assists with that at Proctor through training, resource development, acquisitions, and organized attempts to change public policy.
Additionally, she serves as co-chair of the Minority Outreach Subcommittee of the Nonpartisan Ohio Voter Outreach Committee (NOVOC) and is founder of Crazy Faith Ministries of Columbus, Ohio. For 22 years, she served as senior pastor of Advent United Church of Christ. She is also a national organizer and trainer for the African American Ministers Leadership Council (AAMLC), a division of People for the American Way. She was recently named the first Gordon G. Cosby Seasoned Voices Fellow by the SpiritHouse Project, an organization that has been on the forefront for social justice for decades.
She graduated from Occidental College in 1976, where she earned a BA in English literature, and is also a 1986 graduate of Yale Divinity School, where she earned an M.Div. She also earned a D. Min. from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, studying under the late Rev. Drs. Samuel Proctor and Charles E. Booth. At Yale, she was awarded the Wolcott Preaching Prize and has since preached nationally and internationally. Moreover, she was recently inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. College of Ministers and Laity.
She is the author of Crazy Faith: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives, and The Book of Jeremiah: The Life and Ministry about the work and ministry of Jeremiah Wright. Her latest book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in the United States was released in October, 2020, and earned two awards: the 2021 Independent Press Award in the “Cultural and Social Issues” category and the 2020 Benjamin Franklin Award from the Independent Book Publishing Association (IBPA)
Regularly, she contributes to The Dallas Examiner, and to The Wilmington Journal. Her work has appeared weekly in The Washington Post and The Huffington Post. She has a blog, “Candid Observations,” that concentrates on the intersections of race, politics and religion. Additionally, she distributes a “Tuesday Meditation” nationally and internationally. She is the mother of two adult children, Caroline, a certified music therapist, and Charles, a writer and performer of music throughout Ohio.