Friday, June 02, 2017

Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything - book review

If by some chance you haven't read anything I've posted in the past, I am a leftist.  I half joked that Bernie Sanders was not liberal enough for me... and it was only half a joke.  I am a child of the 60's.  The Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-War Movement were important parts of my formation.  I am also a Christian and a pastor of a Christian church.  I believe in radical transformation.   I believe we are on the cusp of significant change as a culture, as a world, and in the Church. 

When this title by Becky Bond & Zack Exley, Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything,  presented itself as a possibility for a book review,  I envisioned 5 Easy Steps to Changing the World... or maybe even 5 Really Hard Steps to Changing the World.  I was hoping that the book would pick up where Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything left off and do a better job of providing direction than Tom Sine's, Live Like You Give a Damn did.  As a parenthesis, if you haven't read Klein's book, it is a must read for anybody concerned about the direction our world is going.  I was hoping for some insights that might apply to the Church and to churches as we seek to navigate this turbulent time.

I got what I wanted... sort of... and didn't get what I wanted... sort of...  The book claims to not just be a re-hashing of what happened in the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and then proceeds to be exactly that. For those who are interested in understanding how the Sanders campaign worked and why it was as successful as it was, this book is a must read.  For whoever decides to run for the Democrats in 2020, it is likewise a must read.  For change smaller that a presidential campaign, the book requires a bit more work to make relevant.  Still, there are some key ideas that speak to anyone involved in working for significant change whether on the macro level or the more local one.  A couple that jumped out at me are:

  • The first is that change can happen... but if we want to see real change we have to embrace something big that includes all of the issues AND we must envision radical change rather than incremental change.  People are willing to work if they are inspired.  Incremental change doesn't inspire folk. 
  • Personal contact is central to everything
  • Institutions and practices that used to work just get in the way now.
  • Let volunteers run with their gifts.
  • Be willing to make mistakes.
  • Expect pushback even from folk you expected would be on your side.
 So... a good read to learn about the Sanders campaign with a number of serious ah ha's for anyone concerned with leading social change.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

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