Nile Harper and associates, Journeys into Justice." Religious Collaboratives Working for Social Transformation. Minneapolis, MN: Bascom Hill Publishing Group, 2009. Pp. 352. $18.95, paper.
Tradition and Pluralism: Essays in Honor of William M. Shea. Edited by Kenneth L. Parker, Peter A. Huff, and Michael J. G. Pahls. Studies in Religion and the Social Order. Lanham, MD, and Plymouth, U.K.: University Press of America, 2009. Pp. 370. $53.00, paper.
Journeys into Justice presents ten case studies, each focused upon the history and goals of a religious collaborative, which the authors define as "a voluntary association of organizations coming together around the common religious values that enable the creation of trust and the sharing of human and financial resources over a sustained period of time in order to accomplish significant goals for the public common good that no one group could achieve by itself' (p. 20). The book is entirely practical in its aims. Harper notes, "The most meaningful way to learn about religious collaboration is by participation in a collaborative" (p. 328). The collaboratives are located in Ann Arbor, Shreveport, Chicago, St. Paul/Minneapolis, Atlanta, St. Louis, Tucson, Nogales, Albuquerque, and Cleveland; one strength of the book is its focus on the local. Some of the studies are more narrative, while others read too much like a summary report to a board of directors; however, each effectively presents the history, aims, successes, and failures of creative religious-public partnerships designed to support the most needy.
Although Harper authors many of the studies, others are written either by the founder or a person significantly involved in the functioning of that particular collaborative. In his conclusion, Harper draws together lessons learned from the ten cases, including common themes, obstacles, and best practices, with the intention of aiding those who would found new or strengthen existing collaboratives. Harper's descriptions, at times, lack critical distance (e.g., at least two of the projects are described as "truly amazing"), and there are some grammatical and orthographic errors (e.g., "created from one ssence"). But the book should serve its intended audience well, even providing websites and contact information in an appendix for further consultation (pp. 43, 110, 266). It is hard to imagine how the book would be useful in a classroom.
The essays in Tradition and Pluralism are more scholarly and more reflective, and, as the book's subtitle declares, they honor the work of William (Bill) M. Shea, the Catholic intellectual who has spent his career at the Catholic University of America, the University of South Florida, St. Louis University, and the College of the Holy Cross. …