In Hope Sings, So Beautiful, award-winning author Christopher Pramuk offers a mosaic of images and sketches for thinking and praying through difficult questions about race. The reader will encounter the perspectives of artists, poets, and theologians from many different ethnic and racial communities.
This richly illustrated book is not primarily sociological or ethnographic in approach. Rather, its horizon is shaped by questions of theology, spirituality, and pastoral practice. Pramuk's challenging work on this difficult topic will stimulate fruitful conversations and fresh thinking, whether in private study or prayer; in classrooms, churches, and reading groups; or among friends and family around the dinner table.
Christopher Pramuk is chair of Ignatian Thought and Imagination, and associate professor of theology at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. He is the author of Sophia: The Hidden Christ of Thomas Merton (Liturgical Press, 2009) and the recipient of the Catholic Theological Society of America's 2009 Catherine Mowry LaCugna Award, the International Thomas Merton Society's 2011 Thomas Merton Award (aka "The Louie"), and several best essay awards from the Catholic Press Association.
Seldom does an author share his soul. Not just his life and experience, but the people and events that inspire him; the art, the music and the encounters that feed his imagination; the passion that drives him. That is what Chris Pramuk does in Hope Sings, So Beautiful. His passion is nothing less than overcoming every form of discrimination to gaze on Christ `in ten thousand places.' It is spiritual theology at its most satisfying, intended to move the senses as well as the mind. If you want uplift and are not afraid to be turned upside down and inside out, this is the book for you.
Drew Christiansen, SJ, Former editor of America, Visiting scholar, Boston College
This book, well written and deep, is spiritual reading. It engages one's spirit and calls the reader to reflection and meditation. Drawing on the writings of a variety of poets and theologians, the author raises up a 'most daring and revolutionary concept'-God is love-as the foundation for a spirituality on the ground that crosses race lines and social locations and facilitates insight into worlds hidden from provincial and conventional thought.
Anthony J. Pogorelc, SS, The Catholic University of America
"What is really powerful about this book is the way in which its theological framing artfully organizes the chapter topics. Pramuk does an excellent job of expanding images for the divine to reflect racial and gender differences. He is explicitly antiessentialist in his theological approach. He invokes a vision for the church that honors all people, transforms the marginalizing factors that have functioned to exclude and diminish groups, and does so not in terms of a secular inclusionary liberal approach, but as the Christian vocation."
Mary McClintock Fulkerson, The Journal of Religion
Hope Sings, So Beautiful dares to interrupt readers, inviting them to reflect more deeply still on systemic racism's dehumanization of us all. Pramuk writes with eloquence, integrity, and urgency.
Kimberly Vrudny, University of St. Thomas
Christopher Pramuk's book is a breath of fresh air. Among the small but growing number of white Catholics attempting to address racism and white supremacy as theological problems, Pramuk's work is unique and one of the finest.
Kevin Considine, Calumet College of St. Joseph, Whiting, IN
Pramuk creatively interweaves music, scholarship, art, the natural world, theology, personal experience, spiritual writings, and much more to examine discipleship in a racist and fractured world. But above all he unveils the everyday mystery of divine love that beckons us to new life and a new way forward.
Timothy Matovina, University of Notre Dame, Author of Latino Catholicism: Transformation in America's Largest Church
This book deserves a wide readership not only because of its achievements, but also because of the risks it takes. Pramuk's work challenges all of us to "wade into the waters" of honest and truthful conversation across difference, because it is there that we will enact God's healing or our broken humanity.
Laurie Cassidy, Marywood University, Horizons: The Journal of the College Theology Society
Hope Sings, So Beautiful is a fine source for scholars and students of religious studies, women's studies, women's spirituality, race and genders studies and of women's texts.
Magistra: A Journal of Women's Spirituality in History
I read this book from my ministry location in downtown Washington, D.C., at a time when Lutherans are talking about racial equality and the desire to become a "color-amazed" church. I will use this book in the congregation I serve, for it provides language and examples for what I am observing—that race is difficult to engage because it is hard to imagine that God will accompany us into the mess of brave conversation. But maybe that means it is time not only to talk, but also to sing together, and to realize that there is hope, grace and sacred power in singing for our collective lives.
Karen Brau, Luther Place Memorial Church, Washington D.C., Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology
Kiss 'doubt and small living' goodbye and prepare to take a tremulous step across the color line. Hope Sings gracefully shepherds the reader beyond isolated, self-centered prisons into inspiring worlds of scholarship, story, and song. Pramuk does not present a simplistic diagnosis of race problems, but an 'alternate horizon'-painful, partial, mysterious, but nonetheless resonant with music. To those who help us see, we owe the deepest reverence; this author is one.
Kathy Coffey, Author of The Best of Being Catholic