Reviews and Endorsements
Living in the Tension explores the complex tension between spiritual practice and social action with thoughtfulness, nuance, and clarity. The book’s many examples, questions, and useful suggestions will challenge your thinking and inspire your activism and are sure to provoke important conversations that we all need to have to participate effectively and sustainably in multiracial organizing for racial justice.
Paul Kivel – educator, activist and author Uprooting Racism and Living in the Shadow of the Cross. www.paulkivel.com
Our faith traditions have long played a vital role in speaking to the moral and social issues of the day, from the suffragist and abolitionist movements to the civil rights movement. Many communities of faith and faith leaders sense a yearning as well as a need to reinvigorate their role and provide a language that can speak to our deepest values and connect to contemporary issues. Shelly Tochluk invites you into welcome conversation about how we can reawaken our deepest moral traditions to promote inclusion, equity, and address fundamental questions of belonging that embrace our diversity and complexity. Her book will be helpful for all of us dealing with spirituality, race and social justice.
john a powell – director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, UC Berkeley; author, Racing to Justice: Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society
With grace, poignancy and careful precision Living in the Tension makes it clear that racial justice work requires spirituality and spirituality requires racial justice work. In these beautiful and wise pages, white allies who have long-labored for the dream of beloved community will find new approaches to the dilemmas that can stymie effective spiritual activism. For those who are just coming awake to their complicity in white privilege and are eager to work for racial justice, this book offers inspiration and reliable guidance. Tochluk’s personal candor carries us with her as she comes to deeper understandings of what is required to hold a both/and approach to otherwise intractable tensions. Her broad-ranging scholarship and her hands on experience are a winning combination, making this book a must-read for whites devoted to participating responsibly in the work of racial justice.
Rebecca Parker – President Emerita and Professor Emerita, Starr King School for the Ministry
In Living in the Tension: The Quest for Spiritualized Racial Justice, Shelly Tochluk has taken the bold step of connecting two thought communities —social justice and spirituality—that are often skeptical of each other. In doing so, she asks social justice activists to dig more deeply into the personal motivations for our work and the spiritual community to be very clear about our need to be held accountable to those who aren’t in the same privileged groups in which we live our lives. Through personal stories and suggested exercises, Tochluk has provided a gift to those us who want to live in the shared space of a spiritual racial justice community.
Frances E. Kendall – author of Understanding White Privilege: Creating Pathways to Authentic Pathways Across Race
Shout out to all the people of faith who’re considering Living in the Tension: The Quest for a Spiritualized Racial Justice. Racism and white supremacy are big enough problems that we people of faith need to work with people who don’t agree with all our ideas about God and other topics. Spirituality and faith requires the capacity to hold paradoxes, and Shelly’s latest book holds together a series of paradoxical tensions we can all learn from. She integrates insights from spiritual practice, psychological study and her long investment in racial justice. Her book is thick with practical strategies and theories. It’s worth reading over time and pondering. Shelly is wise, gentle and clearly invested in creating profound change in our souls and society.
The Rev. Dr. Paula Harris, Episcopal parish priest, co-author Being White: Finding our Place in a Multiethnic World, www.beingwhite.org.
Exploring and transforming what is totally contradictory to everything you have been taught about societal “norms” requires great courage. Shelly Tochluk not only has courage, she also is steeped in generosity. She freely shares the wisdom she has garnered with so many people who are also dealing with the paradoxical nature of justice and spirituality. Ms. Tochluk allows us to benefit from her deep inquiry into difference, sameness, spirituality and justice, which inform a quest into the nature of what it means to become fully human. Thank you Shelly!
Shakti Butler, Ph.D. producer/director, Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity, Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible, and The Way Home and Light in the Shadows
Shelly Tochluk’s voice insightfully expands the national dialogue on racial justice and is a must read for anyone committed to contributing to the creation of a world that honors the dignity of all beings.
Michael Bernard Beckwith,author of Spiritual Liberation, founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center
An important resource for social justice educators and activists who are struggling to balance the tensions and dilemmas of integrating spirituality in their advocacy work both as individuals and in collective action. I am far more effective when I ground myself in love and compassion as I engage others in racial justice work. This book may help others find their own middle way as they reconcile and integrate their full selves in the service of liberation.
Kathy Obear, Alliance for Change
With this courageous and provocative book, Shelly Tochluk invites us to dive deeply into the shadows of our American psyche, illuminating a path toward the kind of hard-won racial awareness that is so desperately needed in the world today. The contents herein both challenge and inspire. Like pre-operative saline solution, this soul-searching work flushes the deepest wounds of our culture, preparing them, and us, for closer examination, and, ultimately perhaps, healing.
Christopher Henrikson – founder/executive director, Street Poets Inc.
Living in The Tension is a multi-directional approach to one of the major issues we face in the world today and particularly in the Unites States: racism. It offers a way of unraveling the layers of cultural confusion, it gives language to identify and properly understand the constraints embedded in the culture for many generations. By sharing her explorations into the issue with us in her writing, Shelly Tochluk provides us with a great resource so we can be supported in our own exploration of the issue. Many of the great revolutions over the last three centuries have failed miserably because at the core the individuals that were leading them did not complete the internal work necessary to support and carry out the change in the world espoused by the ideology. This is an example of an individual’s personal exploration journey and, should it be mirrored by those in major positions of leadership, we will have a chance to make a much needed change in the communities we live in and in the world at large.
Miguel Rivera – director, Western Gate Roots and Wings Foundation
Shelly has done it again: as in Witnessing Whiteness, when she explored the complexities involved in broaching the topic of race, both within public and ourselves, Shelly has taken the time to slow down and recognize the essential question of the day. How do we live a balanced moral life? Using a thoughtful blend of research and narrative, Shelly creates space for her reader to consider the possibilities and the pitfalls of responding to that question in 21st century U.S. culture. It’s aimed at those engaged in social justice work, but it will resonate with anyone and everyone who wants to do the right thing in the world.
Ayres Stiles-Hall, director, Office of Community and Equity, Concord Academy
Book Reviews for Living in the Tension
Lucky Altman Lynch, Former director of The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) – Los Angeles, Currently Training Director of The Kaleidoscope Institute