Beyond Hashtag Activism
Comprehensive Justice in a Complicated Age
by Mae Elise Cannon
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 26 May 2020 | Archive Date 25 Jun 2020
"Dr. Cannon deftly navigates many big issues—such as poverty, justice, and climate change—and shows the interplay between these complex problems. Often, justice issues are often treated in isolation, and people must choose which is the most urgent. But Cannon shows the delicate interplay between various justice issues like poverty, race, climate change, and gender justice. Each chapter provides tangible next steps for Christians who want to put their convictions into meaningful action." -Nikki Toyama-Szeto, executive director of Evangelicals for Social Action at the Sider Center
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 5 members
A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action, Please A Review of Beyond Hashtag Activism: Comprehensive Justice in a Complicated Age by Mae Elise Cannon (5/5 Stars) As someone who recently de-activated their Twitter account, the title of Rev. Mae Elise Cannon’s upcoming book immediately caught my eye. Beyond Hashtag Activism gives a comprehensive account of the big, thorny justice issues of our time—but more importantly, it gives specific ways the reader can go beyond posting on their social media accounts, and actually start investing time and money in the hard work of justice in the world. Rev. Cannon writes that “Hashtag activism is a great place to start, but our social justice advocacy must move beyond the limits of likes, sharing, and click rates.” I really liked this book. It covers a lot of ground (racism, sexism, the #MeToo movement, human trafficking, immigration, environmental justice, LGBT issues, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, just to name a FEW) and could have easily become another overwhelming, finger-pointing jeremiad about the hopelessness of our world. Instead, with generosity for differing viewpoints, factual precision, and engaging prose, Cannon invites Christians to think more deeply about justice and to live more passionately to bring justice about. There will probably be parts of the book where you disagree with her conclusion (when someone talks about abortion, immigration, #blacklivesmatter, Trump, and same-sex marriage, this is bound to happen). But I’d imagine that people from all theological and political spectrums will a) learn a lot from this book, and b) find at least some ways and places where they can start doing the work of justice. I personally appreciated this book’s willingness to wrestle with both progressive and evangelical voices who are working around justice issues. As someone who is pro-life and adheres to a traditional Christian view of marriage, I’ve never been exactly sure where I fit when it comes to social justice and advocacy. I want to be engaged in justice movements, while also discerning how to be faithful to the scriptural teaching of Jesus in my life and in my faith community. Often this means that I am leaning to one side of the political spectrum, and other times I am leaning to the other side. I think my feeling of tribelessness has often lulled me into apathy and disengagement. But Beyond Hashtag Activism reminded me that working for justice cannot be reduced to the name we check in a ballot box. Though voting is really important, we perhaps do more for justice when we show up, when we serve, when we write a check, and when we listen to and amplify the voices that no one else is listening to. Cannon quotes historian Christopher Lasch at the end of her book, who writes: “Hope does not demand a belief in progress. It demands a belief in justice: a conviction that the wicked will suffer, that wrongs will be made right, that the underlying order of things is not flouted with impunity. Hope implies a deep-seated trust in life that appears absurd to most who lack it.” Christianity is all about this kind of hope, because Christianity at its heart is incarnational. Just as Jesus, the Word, “became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (John 1:14, The Message), this book reminds us that as followers of Jesus, our words are not enough. We are called to take our hashtags and our Facebook posts and put some flesh on them. In the immortal words of Elvis: a little less conversation, a little more action please. ALSO: This book comes out May 26, 2020, but is available for pre-order on Amazon here; I was grateful to be able to review it beforehand. The book has really helpful discussion questions after every chapter, and would work really well for a small group. Be aware that this book does not shy away from politics or criticizing the current administration, but I think it’s all done fairly and factually.
Mae Elise Cannon wrote this book "to draw us toward deeper understanding of God’s heart for justice. The God of the Scriptures cares deeply for the poor and oppressed and responds to the cry of the needy . . . Many of the stories told here— stories of oppression, injustice, rejection, isolation, and poverty— are about people who have been crushed in spirit." In my mind she has accomplished this and provided for us ways we can bring our activism to life. This book covers a variety of current issues that should be of deep concern to professing Christians. Mae covers these issues in four parts and 13 chapters. These issues include: global and domestic poverty, race, women in the workplace and Church, liberation of women in the world, marriage and sexuality, the middle east, Palestine, and Israel, and religious freedom all in light of God's desire for justice in our world and our responsibility to act. I see her work here and elsewhere as a second horizon practical commentary on the prophets and the New Testament for the Church. Micah 6:8 says, He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of yo But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 (NASB) Mae is thoughtful in the way she addresses the issues, at the same time modeling for us how we can find agreement with those we may not agree with in all matters. As I read this I could see this was an exercise in love and thick concern for her. I have read several of Mae Elise Cannon's works starting with her Social Justice Handbook to this present work and highly recommend reading this work as well as her other works. Thnk you Mae Elise Cannon for your servanthood! Mae ends here book with this prayer: "My prayer is that this book might encourage us all to be closer to God and also closer to the beloved community that King preached about. A community that is committed to love and not hate. A community that holds onto hope for justice, even in the midst of hopeless situations. A community that rests and trusts in the good news that God is just, and one day he will come again." This is my prayer also!
If you are at all interested in current social justice issues and how we can respond in a Christ-like way, then please pick up this book! I didn't really know anything about Mae Elise Cannon before picking this up and was simply intrigued by the title/description on Netgalley. After reading the entire book in a few days, I can say that I am extremely impressed. This book is incredibly well-researched and well-written. Cannon tackles some huge, controversial, and very complicated current issues with wisdom and love and humanity. She weaves together biblical exegesis, diverse perspectives from field experts, historical facts, and her own personal stories seamlessly. Her practical steps for getting involved, the discussion questions at the end of each chapter, and the suggested further reading lists are all amazing resources! One of the first steps in sharing God's heart for justice has got to be education and awareness. How can we love our neighbors and respond to these issues in a loving, Christ-like way without being informed about them? Cannon's book is an amazing starter resource in that regard. I learned so much about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, global religious persecution, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, global and domestic poverty, issues of racism and sexism, and even more. My only wish is that this book was longer! The chapters are concise and comprehensive, but these are huge, nuanced issues and I'd love to read more of Cannon's work in going deeper. Overall, highly recommend. I will definitely be purchasing a copy of this as a resource for the future.
Beyond Hashtag Activism: Comprehensive Justice in a Complicated Age is a very comprehensive and well-researched book, yet is also very readable and practical. Author, Mae Elise Cannon, is no stranger to social justice topics, having written numerous books since publishing The Social Justice Handbook in 2009 and serves as Executive Director of the Churches for Middle East Peace. Cannon begins by outlining why social justice should be important to Christians and that salvation and justice are both necessary components of the Gospel of Christ. Reading this section brought to mind James 2:16 and reminds readers that you can't preach the Gospel if people are cold, hungry, impoverished, or oppressed. Specifically Christians needs to be involved in "prophetic advocacy" and set aside the "need to be right" in order to build bridges with others. After setting this foundation, Cannon goes on to provide details about specific justice issues include poverty, race, gender, and twenty-first century divides. Within each chapter, a multitude of references are provided as well as numerous stories of first hand experiences with these topics. However, Cannon does not simply inform the reader but goes on to provide information on specific opportunities to get involved fighting against these issues and suggested readings to learn more. Each chapter also ends with discussion questions which make this a perfect book for a small group study. While reading Beyond Hashtag Activism, I frequently found myself sitting in prayer and lament over the gross injustices and tragedies described. Then to see these issue being played out on a national stage and to be reminded of the privileged position I have in society was sobering. To think how unknowingly my purchasing habits may contribute to global poverty and then be reminded that so much of "the good we do" such as providing food to the poor is only a temporary fix rather than a sustainable long-term solution. I was also reminded that even though many individuals say people are made in the image of God, too often we sure don't act like it. Page after page provided food for thought and steps to take. As such this is a book that readers will want to own and refer to often. Readers may not agree with all of Cannon's suggestions, but each chapter is a springboard to learning more about a topic. Beyond Hashtag Activism is highly recommended for anyone whose heart is torn regarding the current events of our country and our world and wonders what they can possibly do to help. I highly encourage individuals to find a group of people to read and discuss this important book together. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Beyond Hashtag Activism from InterVarsity Press via NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.