November-December 2020

Book report

New works by local authors

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Robert Jones’ book White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity (Simon & Schuster, July 2020) is a call for white Christian churches to confront their racist pasts and take action toward reconciliation. A white Southern Baptist who grew up in Mississippi, Jones is CEO and founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Public Religion Research Institute, which has tracked public opinion surveys that show holding racist views is associated with white Christian identity. “It’s very unsettling,” says Jones, who lives in Takoma Park. “White Christians need to talk about repair, restitution and justice. After this much damage has been done, it’s not about just saying you’re sorry and trying to move on. The real question is: ‘How can I repair the damage?’

Populism began as a movement among left-wing reformers in the Midwest, with ordinary citizens demanding democratic economic reforms, writes Bethesda author Thomas Frank. His book The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism (Metropolitan Books, July 2020) spells out how the concept is misunderstood by the media. “Today the word is used to mean racist authoritarianism. The people who invented the word meant almost exactly the opposite,” Frank says. What has not changed, he notes, is that those who oppose populism talk about the fear of mob rule and the idea that the majority of Americans aren’t fit to rule. But, he says, elites need to acknowledge their failures as the debate continues about whether to trust the will of the people.

Working full time as a science writer with two young kids, Shannon Brescher Shea says she often felt “mom guilt” for being stretched too thin and “green guilt” for not doing enough to help the environment. Then she realized that when her family was recycling, gardening or riding bikes together there was an opportunity to pass on important values. Shea wrote Growing Sustainable Together: Practical Resources for Raising Kind, Engaged, Resilient Children (North Atlantic Books, June 2020), a parenting advice book with environmental activities for preschoolers to preteens. “This book helps you talk to your kids about how their actions impact the greater world around them and take steps to change those actions for the good,” says Shea, who lives in Rockville.

Don’t be shy about using your call button. Put an ink mark on the limb or body part to be operated on. Watch comedies to help you recuperate. That’s some of the advice that Dr. David Sherer, a retired anesthesiologist, offers in Hospital Survival Guide: The Patient Handbook to Getting Better and Getting Out (Humanix Books, August 2020). The updated version of a book originally released in 2003 covers COVID-19 and emphasizes the need to be an informed patient. “If you don’t advocate for yourself or have someone who will do it for you, the chance of a medical error happening to you goes way up,” says Sherer, who lives in Chevy Chase. “I think there should be a patient ‘Me Too’ movement. …Patients need to be treated and advocate differently than they have been.”