Musings

A web log by Ben Makuh

Technology

Book Reviews

About

Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference [a review]

A brilliant set of reflections from a host of different perspectives on how to live in our pluralistic world confidently, seeking common ground with those who disagree with us.

As a book reviewer, I love books like these that make the job easy: this is an absolutely excellent book which I have already recommended to friends and family, and which I heartily recommend to you, dear reader. My average review for a good book is 4 stars, because I want 5 stars to really mean something. This book earns 5 stars without breaking a sweat.

Uncommon Ground is a set of 12 deeply thoughtful essays answering the question, "In our day and age when it seems that disagreement abounds and common ground is a sentimental dream of the past, how can those with diverging views of the world find ways to see one another, speak to one another, and hear one another?" Each contributor conceptualizes his or her work in this endeavor from a different angle, from roles like the theologian or pastor to the writer to the translator to the bridge builder to the reconciler.

Each essay is pretty straightforwardly a retelling of that individual’s life and work coupled with their reflections upon the division they see and the ways in which they have worked to find common ground. I’d tell you which one was my favorite, except that they’re all just exceedingly excellent. I am pretty well-acquainted with many of the names within the evangelical world, and so I knew a fair number of the contributors to this work. The fascinating thing for me to realize is that I know I’m not on a different theological wavelength than some of these folks, and yet I found myself nodding along in each chapter, recognizing that while there’s a place for those disagreements, it is also very possible to find the common ground that sometimes seems so elusive.

I’ve been wrecked by the past few weeks of racial violence, police brutality, and seething resentment that has bubbled to the surface in our country. Some days I feel absolutely hopeless that we could ever see eye to eye, or that we could ever look our enemy in the eye and see a brother (to loosely quote a song by The Brilliance). This was exactly the book I needed right now to assert that yes, finding common ground is difficult work, but yes it’s very much possible. I strongly recommend you pick up a copy for yourself and imagine what your role might be in bringing disparate people together.

DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of a fair, unbiased review.