Y’all, I’ve got some fantastic authors lined up for you, and today’s writer, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, is no exception. He’s the author of the recently released, Reconstructing the Gospel, and again, if your bones long for justice, do not ignore his words, his thoughts, his stories and his advice. His story is quite similar to my own, and I don’t doubt that it might be similar to yours as well. It’s an honor to have him here with us today, so read through his thoughts and leave a comment to win a copy of his book!
Tell us a bit about yourself, will you? I’m a son of the South who was raised and educated in the white evangelical world. My people loved me well and taught me to memorize the Bible in the King James Version. Wanting to do all that I could for Jesus, I dove headlong into the Moral Majority as a teenager. But Jesus interrupted me through a homeless man on the street in DC, and I met people who started helping me see that, in all my zeal, I was living and preaching much of the slaveholder religion that had been passed down to me through generations. So I’m a racially blind man who has been learning to see on the road to freedom.
Let’s talk about your book: what, in a nutshell, is your book about anyway? Reconstructing the Gospel is about finding freedom from slaveholder religion. It’s memoir and its history and it’s a reading of the gospel stories. I’m tickled that it debuted this week on amazon.com as the #1 bestseller in US Civil War history. But I’m not really a historian; I’m a preacher. This book is really about lifting up a gospel that challenges Christian nationalism and offers a better hope for everyone, even people who were taught to call themselves white.
Do tell, what was the inspiration behind it? Well, I’ve been living my way into this story for 20 years. But I knew I had to write it during the Presidential primaries back in 2016. We were having Easter dinner at my parents’ house, and my African-American son asked his white grandfather if he was really going to vote for Trump. They both recognized a huge gulf between them, despite sharing family, place, and faith. This book is really about trying to understand the distance between them—the breach at the heart of American Christianity—and how Jesus wants to save us from it.
How do you hope readers will be changed by your words? I hope people will see connections they haven’t seen before, change their daily habits, and learn to walk in solidarity with those who suffer most from the lie of white supremacy.
Lest we forget to ask, how have YOU been changed by writing Reconstructing the Gospel? It broke me open and helped me see real clearly that whiteness is the main thing keeping me from Jesus. Whiteness is a con. It promises the world, but separates you from your neighbors and, in the end, from your true self. This journey toward freedom has helped me see that I don’t want to be white anymore. I am who I am, yes. But I’m on the way to freedom—headed toward a country that has not yet been. This journey offers a new identity—what the Bible calls “Christian.”
Well, there you have it: I am so, so excited to dig into Reconstructing the Gospel, and I’d love to book club it along with you! Leave a comment below, telling Jonathan WHY you’d love to read his book. Also, visit Instagram later this week for more chances to win.
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