Urban Theology: Neighborhood as Sacred Text

“Rose Marie Berger combines her gifts as a poet and storyteller with an incisive critique of the powers of violence and domination present within the imperial city of Washington, D.C. Drawing on her powerful poetic sensibilities she weaves together stories of Washington, D.C., as a divided capital and the biblical critique of cities as centers of imperial power and ritual sacrifice.

Her story Who Killed Donte Manning: The Story of an American Neighborhood is grounded in a powerful narrative of the events surrounding the deadly shooting of nine-year-old Donte Manning in her Columbia Heights neighborhood. Berger weaves the threads of violence surrounding Donte’s death with those of other youth in her neighborhood located two and a half miles from the White House and those of indigenous farmers in rural Colombia who grow the coca fueling the global drug trade. Intertwined with her short vignettes of city life in the imperial capital runs a biblical narrative that breathes sacred meaning into the profanity of urban life from ancient times to the present.

The stories Berger weaves together with biblical reflections are a powerful example of what it means to “read” the city, to interpret the urban context through both a sociological and a biblical framework. Through her story-telling, she ties each of her readers to Donte, his mother, but also to the farmers in Colombia so that—all of a sudden—she has woven a fine global tapestry for us. The shortness and compactness of the book makes it an effective illustrative tool in the classroom.”—Helene Slessarev-Jamir, author of The Betrayal of the Urban Poor

Who Killed Donte Manning? The Story of an American Neighborhood by Rose Marie Berger (122 pages, with study guide) is available at http://amzn.to/d9bTpv or Sojourners (http://store.sojo.net/product_p/bk_wkdm.htm) or by clicking on the cover above.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.