The answer may come in a searing indictment: that in an emerging cultural-religious era in which religious identity, expression, and experience are increasingly pluralistic, yet also politicized, polarizing, and racialized, Christian faith communities—even those of progressive theological persuasions—are still held under dominant cultural captivity, and fashioned by colonizing teaching strategies of “disimagination” – such that the stories (theologies) and rituals (practices) of the faith have effectively become obstacles that anesthetize moral agency and debilitate courageous action for hope and change.
This book addresses the above practical concerns with three paradigmatic questions:
1. What does it mean to educate for faith in a world marked by violence?
2. How are Christian faith communities complicit in the teaching and learning of violence?
3. What renewed practices of faith and educational leadership yield potential for the unlearning and unmaking of violence?
An organizing thesis drives the inquiry: Thinking and teaching for violence-resisting action as Christians requires an on-purpose setting of our hearts in a world that violates and harms with impunity. Against violent “disimagination”and its conscience-numbing instruments, Christian religious communities are being challenged to regenerate radical forms of prophetic, protested faith, the skills and instincts of which must be honed deliberately. This occurs through intentional and strategic forms of public consciousness raising for the sake of participation and action – an action that moves toward and is fueled by critical, insurrectional, resurrectional, hope.
“#BringBackOurGirls, #BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName—these are only a few of the hashtags prompted by the rising visibility of violence in a social media era. How can religious educators help communities to confront the roots of this violence? And where do we find hope in the midst of these struggles? Mai-Anh Le Tran offers concise analysis, deeply rooted Christian hope, and pragmatically grounded wisdom for doing so—this is the best book I have read on the topic in decades!”
—Mary E. Hess, Professor of Educational Leadership, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN; past President, Religious Education Association
“Rooted in the author’s ancestral quilt of faith, this compelling book reveals the sacramental power of a poetic narrative that says no to a world tainted by violence and yes to hope that seeks justice. It inspires religious educators as reflective practitioners to embrace intentionally a vocation ‘to do something’ in prophetic response to a troubled world.”
—Faustino M. Cruz, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Leadership, School of Theology and Ministry, Seattle University, Seattle, WA
“Mai-Anh Le Tran has given us a poetic, prophetic, and provocative vision of what Christian religious education must be if congregations and their religious leaders are to take serious the impotent practices of current educational ministry today. The book is poetic in tone and discourse, prophetic in getting at the ‘heart of the problem’ of educational ministry, and provocative in her proposal to teach for Christian faith that will transform the world.
In a society filled with violence Tran asks if faith is a verb then how do we do it in a violent world? Her response is essential if Christianity is to be relevant in a world filled with systemic injustices. Never before has Christian religious education scholarship addressed violence. For such a time as this.”
—Evelyn L. Parker, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX
“Tran dares to imagine redemptive possibilities for transforming human misery and social injustice in and through practices of teaching faith. With a keen ethnographic eye, well-honed pedagogical sensibilities, and a deep knowledge of religious education, theology, social science, and critical theories, Tran helps readers envision pedagogical practices for teaching faith in the midst of the violence that is so much a part of the world around us. Reset the Heart is clearly one of the most relevant, hopeful, and helpful books I have read recently on being church in the twenty-first century.”
—Charles R. Foster, Professor Emeritus of Religion and Education, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
“When violence has become normal and lying in public is accepted, your most important act of embodied hope may be to read Reset the Heart. What is a person of faith to do? In this significant and risky book, Mai-Anh Le Tran offers profound concrete examples of how churches can build community, engage in acts of redemption, and educate for new life. Tran shows us how to challenge the church to live the good news. Reset the Heart transforms the dialogue in the field and challenges ministry to be its best. It is a profound book.”
—Jack L. Seymour, Professor Emeritus of Religious Education, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary; editor emeritus, Religious Education