Praise for Silence Is Not the Answer

Johnson has assembled a cast of writing witnesses who . . . offer crisp, terse testimony to the urgency of gospel justice concerning a range of current issues.”

—Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary

Johnson shows how silence becomes complicity and offers a variety of methods for both clergy and community advocates to raise their voices and be heard in today’s moral wilderness.”

—Felicity Figueroa, community activist and Chair, Orange County Equality Coalition and Great American Write-In

To read the passionate and honest words of so many is to be reminded that repairing the world demands our immediate attention and that silence is a sin and not the answer.”

—Rabbi Arnold Rachlis, University Synagogue, Irvine, California

All those who want their faith recentered on the radical call of Jesus should read this book.”

—Bishop Dr. Guy Erwin, Southwest California Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Reading the chapters of this book, I could not help recall the telegram that Gerhart Riegner, secretary of the World Jewish Congress, sent on August 8, 1942, calling for the powers that be to acknowledge Hitler’s plan to exterminate all the Jews of Europe. In the United States, his message was met with total silence. Thank you, George and Vivian, for sounding a warning and calling for our response.”

—Dr. Paul Wee, retired Senior Representative in Berlin, The Lutheran World Federation

George’s ‘Letter to My Bishop’ was so powerful. . . . When I finished the book, I was literally in tears. The book conveyed my theology, and I no longer felt so alone in the world. It convinced me that I cannot remain passive; our humanness, our identity, and our soul depend on action to our pressing contemporary issues.”

—Myrna Christopherson Kysar, retired pastor, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

George Johnson has pulled together another ‘growing edge’ book that calls us to consider more deeply the ways in which we break the silences.”

—Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr., teacher (1958–1968) for Martin King and John Lewis

From George’s and other authors’ prophetic words, I find inspiration, energy, and hope at this critical time as I hear the cry of all creation. Vivian Johnson’s ‘Why I March’ is wonderfully informative. I appreciate George’s honesty in the preface as he breaks the silence personally and professionally. May this book spur a movement in the church.”

—Jane Affonso, Chair, South Coast Interfaith Council Justice and Peace Action Team

As we drift toward greater economic inequality and fascism worldwide, with repeated lies and misrepresentation by governments and economic powers, those who cherish the concepts of peace and justice must speak out in many ways. The church is faithful when laity speaks as well as professionals. This is eloquently stated in this book.”

—E. B. Koschmann, MD

As a person especially concerned about the climate change problem, I appreciated the article ‘Living on this Planet So Others Can Live’ by Sallie McFague.”

—Dr. James A. Martin, George Washington University

We need all the encouragement that is to be found in this book. Johnson’s compilation of short, powerful essays is a gift and provocation to progressive pastors everywhere. We must straddle the chasm between an expressed congregational need for comfortable optimism and our prophetic urges to confront evil, injustice, and oppression in their many forms.”

—Rev. Paige Eaves, Board President, Progressive Christians Uniting

Once again, George Johnson has assembled an amazing group of wise and passionate voices who challenge us to ‘do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.’ The variety of topics and short essays makes this an excellent resource for not only individuals but for churches, study groups, and community organizations.”

—Dave Ellingson, retired professor, pastor, and adventure kayaker

Elie Wiesel famously wrote, ‘What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence of the bystander.’ Johnson has taken this admonishment to heart and created a volume of wisdom that will both guide and challenge us as we speak out against the many injustices we face during these difficult times.”

—Rabbi Stephen J. Einstein, DHL, DD, HaRav Shalom Ya’akov ben Shaya Zalman v’Zelda and Founding Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation B’nai Tzedek, Fountain Valley, California

A clear and urgent call to action! George Johnson draws on the wisdom of diverse voices to add to his own prophetic voice. Silence Is Not the Answer inspires and empowers us all to explore, discern, and act on the urgent issues facing our world today. With contributions ranging from academia to down-to-earth personal experiences, every reader will be touched and moved to action by this book.”

—Su Kraus, business owner

There may be cases where silence is resistance—like Jesus refusing to respond to the high priest’s efforts to trap him—but too often silence is a lack of courage in the face of evil. The good news is that the voices in this book refuse to remain silent, knowing perhaps that ‘the stones would cry out’ (Luke 19:40) otherwise.”

—Joerg Rieger, Distinguished Professor of Theology, Vanderbilt University

This book is for all who wish to foster enduring positive change in how we think, speak, act, and feel in matters of the self, others, and the wider world. George Johnson has once again discerned a key theme for our time.”

—Philip Johnson, PhD, President, Finlandia University

Silence Is Not the Answer is a much-needed collective challenge to all American Christians to find their voices and speak out against the divisive and hateful trends of our present day and proclaim a gospel of inclusion, love, justice, and respect for the dignity of all.”

—Canon Brian J. Grieves, retired Peace and Justice Officer, Episcopal Church

These are superb examinations of the interplay between divine grace and human love of neighbor, especially in arenas of peace and justice.”

—Charles Lutz, longtime Lutheran advocate for Christian action on peace and justice concerns and advocate in Minnesota for just peace in the Holy Land

The list of contributors and their topics is all I need to add my voice to the chorus of gratitude for this publication.”

—Dr. David L. Tiede, President Emeritus, Luther Seminary

Johnson has sent all of us an existential challenge from the twilight of his long and inspiring career. We are reminded that to be true followers of Jesus means to be willing to risk everything, even our own lives, to say loud and clear that we will not be silent in the face of injustice.”

—Howard B. Emery, MD

This book, edited by my friend George Johnson, is an invaluable resource for those activists who want to be inspired, motivated, and nurtured by the experiences and wisdom of others who are in the same struggle for justice, sustainability, and wholeness. The matrix of seeking justice requires us all. Thank you, George.”

—Mavis Anderson, Senior Associate, Latin America Working Group, Washington, DC

Through the nineteen different authors, the Holy and disturbing Spirit pricked my conscious, touched my heart, aroused my values, and motivated me to add my voice to the chorus of caring and prophetic voices that so desperately need to be heard. In these pages, the passion of the Spirit, the priorities of the Kingdom, and the heart of God are calling us to wake up, speak up, get involved, and pay the price that is required to be faithful in our day.”
—Howie Wennes, Bishop Emeritus, Grand Canyon Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

George Johnson has gathered contemporary prophetic voices to reflect on history as well as our own time to call us all to break our silence for justice now. These collected authors—scholars, activists, journalists, and pastors—call us to seek community accountability and advocacy for those who are oppressed and marginalized and whose human rights are violated in our own country today. These authors range in their critical reflections from the Doctrine of Discovery and its impact on Native peoples to Nazi Germany, from Martin Luther King Jr.’s opposition to the Vietnam War to domestic abuse and the economic effects of climate change and globalization. In their reflections, each one asks questions (like the hotline operator for domestic abuse who first asks ‘Are you safe?’) that quickly get to the heart of how we are living and how our living impacts our neighbors. Asking ourselves these questions requires us to reach more deeply, examine our community actions more critically, and offer ourselves more authentically to break the silence that sustains poverty, racism, misogyny, and oppression in our communities.”
—Julia Lambert Fogg, Professor of Religion, California Lutheran University

This book is an inspiring call not only to speak but also to act for social justice. For Reverend Johnson, this is a requirement of faith. As a sociologist, I believe the mobilization of ordinary people is the only thing that can change the world—and hopefully save it for future generations.”
—Dave Smith, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Irvine; former president, Society for the Study of Social Problems; and Chair, Irvine United Congregational Church Advocates for Peace and Justice

By refusing to remain silent, voices with wide-ranging experiences are sure to discomfort and challenge readers of this book. George and Vivian Johnson’s own courage in speaking out of adversity for peace and justice leads the way.”

—Art Simon, President Emeritus, Bread for the World

Silence Is Not the Answer challenges us to articulate imaginative ways to bear witness to ecojustice during this historically unprecedented world of the twenty-first century.”

—Dr. C. Dean Freudenberger, agronomist

I first encountered George Johnson’s writing through his book Beyond Guilt and Powerlessness. It was a transformational read that pushed one past the debilitating power of guilt and into a place of inspired hope that comes from moving beyond that paralysis. Now, in this latest endeavor, he again pushes the reader past the place of immobility to an inspired call to action.”

—Jeff Kjellberg, Owner, Kairos and Associates, the Joshua Group

“If silence is not the answer, then what is the question? For George Johnson, the motivating question is this: given the imperatives of faith, how shall we confront injustice? Johnson’s deftly curated selection from pastors, theologians, and thinkers persuades the reader that faith demands action, not acquiescence and surely not silence.”

—Keith Boyum, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, California State University, Fullerton

“If children are encouraged to speak out when they see injustice, they embody the concept that silence is not the answer. Even the youngest among us can be advocates for justice.”

—Garnet Ellertson, retired kindergarten teacher

This book is a jarring inspiration for a tired mind—a mind tired of seeing what is happening to this country. The book recalls old applicable truths and taps into new inspiring ideas.”

—John Yackel, retired CEO, American Guidance Service

George Johnson has once again assembled a skilled cast of voices speaking prophetically with both wisdom and urgency. Their voices are as true, timely, and poignant as ever.”

—Jared Enyart, father, husband, and teacher, San Diego, California

Johnson’s book is a rich, accessible source of wisdom and insight from bold voices that call us to move from cautious silence to courageous action in putting justice at the center of faith-full living. This book inspires all of us in this difficult, chaotic time to buckle up and be counted as activists, volunteers, and followers of Jesus in the drive for justice wherever injustice and evil threaten equality, creation, and the common good.”

—Rev. Dr. Luther Dale, Evangelical Lutheran pastor and volunteer national environmental leader

Reading Silence Is Not the Answer leaves a person of faith with no excuses for failing to speak out and failing to take action to move the neighborhood, the country, and the world toward the compassion at the heart of Jesus’s teachings.”

—Rev. Ken Wyant, Bible teacher and political activist

This book is a treatise that ought to be read by all parish pastors and lay leaders. While surrounded by acts of injustice and violence, to respond with silence is a way of encouraging more injustice and violence. What are we to do? One of the authors in this book, Lowell Erdahl, offers twenty things that we can do in response. In other words, we can be the change that we wish to see in the world. None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something. The heart of justice is participation in God’s sacred household, our home and our planet.”

—Rev. M. Laurel Gray, progressive Christian leader