On the possibility of Liberating Oppressors through a $130 book (and a free look at the introduction)

What does it mean to liberate oppressors? What would this look like in practice? Why would we even want to do so?  In the introduction to Hope for the Oppressor I write about my goal and approach:

This book is an attempt to reboot the conversation, to enter into this longstanding discussion with a theme of hope, hope not only for changing contexts but hope for the oppressors themselves. It is a strange idea that the oppressors who already have privilege need hope, but that is exactly the problem we face. In his book on John Brown, W.E.B DuBois highlights the issue: “The price of repression is greater than the cost of liberty. The degradation of men costs something both to the degraded and those who degrade.”[1] Repressing others may provide privilege in societal sense, but not necessarily real freedom, and in indulging oppression, they are cut off from the possibilities of fullness and life that is promised in Christ, both now and in eternity. The cost is hope, trust, and community, which are the cornerstones of life .

I propose a model that can more adequately define the context of oppressing, diagnose the underlying motivations and inclinations, and provide a theological analysis that gives both a Christian perspective and response. In doing this, I hope to offer a way of liberation that leads to a new pattern of life in our society, reflecting the values of the kingdom of God, one that is the task of individuals and churches to live out in their particular communities. In light of this latter goal, we discover themes that illuminate how liberation is, or should be, universal, diverse, and unifying. In expressing this more thorough understanding of liberation from both directions, the church can pursue its mission as a truly catholic church, working to actualize this liberation everywhere, in diverse situations and environments, pointing toward the Spirit of renewal that is infinitely complex and working in every setting and person. Starting with each of us.

Read the whole introduction.

I had expected my book to cost about $40 or less. The publisher decided to price it at $130 because that is the model for academic books with very narrow themes. The market isn’t to people for those kinds of books, it’s to libraries, and certain kinds of academic libraries at that. Many international libraries can’t afford it, regular folks like you and me can’t afford it.

I didn’t set the price, and I don’t like the price. I think the price reflects the very concerns I address in my book. There is a publishing system and this system doesn’t care about me, it doesn’t care about you, it cares about perpetuating a model of business that relies on bloated budgets of Western academia and the load-crushed funding of the textbook market.

In dealing with a $130 dollar book that locks me out of buying let alone marketing my own book, it confronts me personally and professionally with the very problems I’m trying to address in the book.

That’s not to say there’s no justification for prices like these in some situations. Some books really are the sort that are limited to libraries. Very narrow themes within already small areas of discussions have a narrow set of scholars that probably could, and often do, fit into a single hotel conference room. This level of pricing helps those kinds of books get published, and uses the library system to get the book to their narrow markets.

That, however, doesn’t characterize my book. I suspect, and I don’t think I’m alone in this, that the theme of “oppressing” is rather wide in this world.  Like “as far as the eye can see in every direction” wide.

My book is an interdisciplinary attempt to address the wider issues of oppressing and how Christian theology in particular can respond to this deepening reality. I enter into discussions with sociology, psychology, church history, Biblical studies, as well as drawing from practical and systematic theologies.

Flyer discount LEX30AUTH19
To get discount, use code LEX30AUTH19

It is categorized as “liberation theology,” but I approach liberation theology from an entirely different theoretical foundation, that of systems theory. Meaning it offers something new to the field.

It’s educated in approach but not limited in scope to only be of interest to a small subset of scholars.  Indeed, Moltmann–one of the most important theologians of the last sixty years or more–notes in his foreword that I superbly carry on a task he has pursued throughout his career.

After six years of working on it, now I find myself stymied by the very people who were committed to helping this see the light of day.  I don’t blame them, or at least I don’t blame any particular people. I really liked my editors and I value the invitation they gave me in publishing it. Though I would have gone with someone else had I known the price they would set, I still have hope that this very challenge offers an opportunity for this book to do well.

I can’t do this alone, however.  The theme of this book is community and that liberating the oppressor takes a ‘bottom up’ community approach. I think it has a broad appeal and speaks into deep systemic problems with a unique perspective that bypasses much of the current entrenched political powers, and invites both conservatives and progressives into a new kind of conversation.

There has to be a better way.  I want to find this way.  I want to invite others to find this way. And in this book I get into how this might be done.

If you’re interested in this goal, and if you’re able to buy the book, here is the publisher’s book page.  Apparently they did not provide enough copies to Amazon, meaning they are entirely uninterested in people buying the book, but it is still possible from their site. Use LEX30AUTH19 for a 30% discount.

If you’re interested in this goal, but can’t afford the price, or can but also think others should be able to as well, ask Rowman & Littlefield to release a paperback version.  And in the meantime request any libraries you’re connected with to purchase the book. Yeah, it feeds into the dysfunctional system but with a message that argues for a better way.

If you’re an academic or have a public forum, ask for a review or exam copy to show there’s interest in the book.

If you have any more questions or want more information about it, let me know in the comments.

 


[1] W. E. B. Du Bois, John Brown, ed. David R. Roediger, new edition (New York: Modern Library, 2001), 4.

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