The Risk of Being Woke: Sermonic Reflections for Activists is a 21st century call to embrace racial justice action, live in beloved community, and seek refreshing mystic moments as we emerge from a health pandemic and engage in a racial reckoning.
Are you a Christian, an activist, or both yearning for justice to roll down like water? Are you seeking Biblically informed spiritual guidance while keeping your eyes open to challenging societal truths? This collection of sermonic reflections from Curtiss Paul DeYoung, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches, written following the murder of George Floyd, provides spiritual sustenance for the activist soul.
This book is divided into three sections that call us into the biblically inspired work of racial justice through action, community, and mystic moments. For preachers, teachers, and activists, these reflections serve as inspiration for one’s own oratorical promptings and social engagement.
"DeYoung challenges us to re-read and re-exegete the Biblical texts for more prophetic preaching, teaching, practice, and wrestling with the word of God in our times. The call is to all of us, especially white activists, to risk shaking ourselves awake, staying awake, staying aware, staying attentive, wrestling afresh with the word of God, and demanding of ourselves to "SHOW UP! STAND UP! And SPEAK OUT!" RISK BEING WOKE!”—Dr. Addie Lorraine Walker, SSND, Director, Sankofa Institute for African American Pastoral Leadership, Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, Texas
“This compelling collection of sermons grounds the struggle for racial justice in the teachings of Scripture, the lives of the prophets, and the example of Jesus, thus providing desperately needed spiritual sustenance to help activists for racial and social justice stay in the fight. I highly recommend this book to every Christian who understands that their faith calls them to build the kingdom of God here on Earth.”—Rev. Adam Russell Taylor, President of Sojourners and author of A More Perfect Union: A New Vision for Building the Beloved Community
“DeYoung’s collection of sermonic reflections is rich in practical wisdom honed through decades of faith-based activism. Fighting systemic injustice carries risks, but it is biblically mandated and grounded in the goodness of God. Readers will find here food for the long, hard, joyful journey toward beloved community.”— Edgardo A. Colón-Emeric, Dean of the Divinity School, Irene and William McCutchen Professor of Reconciliation and Theology, Director, Center for Reconciliation, Duke University Divinity School
“There is an adage that I feel is, at times unfair, but for my purposes today, I will use it. The saying goes, "those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." It is unfair and so many times untrue, but in the case of the author of this book, he is one who can and who does, and because of that, he is also able to teach.
My friend and brother Curtiss Paul DeYoung is that unique blend of proponent and practitioner, one who says and does, who talks and walks. This latest literary offering from the pen of Dr. DeYoung calls and challenges us to "wokeness" of the best kind and does it through a Biblical lens. In this book, we see the mind of a scholar and the heart of a shepherd. As such, it offers a much-needed perspective in this day and time.
I pray that this book wakes us up and spurs us to action.”—Bishop Timothy J. Clarke
“The world needs activist preachers, and Curtiss DeYoung summons them forth with a rousing wake-up call in this extremely relevant book! The Risk of Being Woke challenges people of faith to intentionally intersect the pulpit with the streets by working towards a vision of a just society that is deeply rooted in God and Scripture. If you’re ready to restore the credibility of the church in this generation by putting your commitment to racial justice into action, this book is for you. I highly recommend it!”—Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, Author, Becoming Brave: Finding the Courage to Pursue Racial Justice Now and Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice
“The Risk of Being Woke is another relevant and impactful book by Christian ethicist and public theologian Curtiss Paul DeYoung for all who are committed to racial justice activism. This scholarly yet accessible resource of sermonic analysis and reflections will stir and nurture faith-inspired activists, pastors, preachers, teachers, and readers in their oratorical assignments and callings.”—Gina M. Stewart, Senior Pastor, Christ Missionary Baptist Church-Memphis, Tennessee, and President-Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention
“No one is better qualified to write about The Risk of Being Woke than activist-scholar Curtiss Paul DeYoung. His works have fueled the faith and provided a compass for Christian activists nationally and globally. As a student of his previous works, which were heavily theological in orientation with airtight logic for postmodernity, this new book gave me ecstatic motivation and creative first-time insights, which made the ancient text alive and more relevant than the morning news. In addition to priming the homiletical pump of prophetic preachers, this book is the answer for all who experience social justice burnt out and discouragement. It reignites the transformative relationship with the living God who calls us to love mercy and do justly. You cannot read this book as I did and remain the same. For example, I am assuming the risk of being woke. More than ever, I believe with Curtiss Paul De Young that crucifixions are made for resurrections. The end notes of each chapter provide an updated theological education for persons seeking an informed faith. This book is one of the most moving and powerful books that I have read in the past year.”—J Alfred Smith Sr., Pastor Emeritus, Allen Temple Baptist Church, Oakland CA, Professor Emeritus Berkeley School of Theology, Berkeley, CA
Curtiss Paul DeYoung a noted racial justice academic, activist, and author. Presently he is the CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches. Its twenty-seven member communions come from Historic Black, Mainline Protestant, Pentecostal, Greek Orthodox, and Peace Churches in Minnesota. DeYoung previously served as the Executive Director of the historic faith-based racial justice organization Community Renewal Society in Chicago with its unique programmatic combination of church-based community organizing, policy advocacy, and investigative journalism.
Dr. DeYoung was the inaugural Professor of Reconciliation Studies at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. Rev. DeYoung served at congregations in Minneapolis, New York City, and Washington, DC. He is an ordained minister in the Church of God (Anderson, IN). He consults and speaks nationally and internationally with extensive relationships among activists and peacemakers across the United States and in South Africa and the Holy Land.
DeYoung earned a Doctor of Education from the University of St. Thomas (MN) and a Master of Divinity from Howard University School of Theology (Washington, DC).
He is an author and editor of thirteen books on racial justice, reconciliation, social justice activism, and cultural competency. With South African anti-apartheid activist Allan Boesak, he co-authored Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism (Orbis). He was on the editorial team for The Peoples' Bible (Fortress). His book Coming Together in the 21st Century: The Bible's Message in an Age of Diversity (Judson) is a defining text in the cultural hermeneutics of the Bible.