Recommended Readings & Movies

For 91 Nightingale Street Ministries

Compiled by Mako Nagasawa, August 2000




In the Name of Jesus:  Reflections on Christian Leadership by Henri J.M. Nouwen (required):  After ministering to disabled folks at L’Arche, Nouwen reflects on three temptations of Christian ministers:  being relevant, spectacular, and powerful. 


Ministering Cross-Culturally:  An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships by Sherwood G. Lingenfelter and Marvin K. Mayers (required):  A simple but great book!  The Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ within our world is both the model and power behind our ministry to others.  Contains a diagnostic test to see how cross-cultural you are.


Theirs is the Kingdom by Robert Lupton (highly recommended):  Contains very moving short reflections coming out of Lupton’s inner city ministry in Atlanta, GA.  You’ll see the homeless through new eyes.


The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coles:  When we think of evangelism or ministry, we may think about church attendance, teaching classes, or vocational excellence.  What was Jesus’ definition of ministry?  This is a challenge to authentically disciple others in direct relationship like Jesus did.


The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson:  A small town pastor moves to New York City to minister on the street.  This is his story of what God did.



Child Development

Restoring the Village by Jawanza Kunjufu (required):  A black psychologist and educator talks about what challenges the black community faces, and how black community can be rebuilt, including visions of fatherhood, motherhood, youth.


The Vulnerable Child by Robert Weissbourd (highly recommended):  Aimed at influencing public policy regarding children, an excellent study of how the emotional instability of parents is affected by poverty and how parents can resist it; why kids join gangs; why certain child services fail; creating family-friendly cities.


Reviving Ophelia:  Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls by Mary Pipher:  Good discussion on the way young girls develop, what challenges they face today, and what they need for healthy emotional growth.  The study concerns mostly middle class white girls and may need some cultural translation, but the principles are fairly universal.


Raising Cain:  Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Daniel J. Kindlon:  The equivalent book on young boys, how they grow, what challenges they face today, and what they need for healthy emotional development.



Youth Culture

Hip-Hop vs. MAAT by Jawanza Kunjufu (required):  Why did hip-hop culture form?   What are kids trying to communicate?  How can we draw on African values to address today’s youth culture?


Motivating and Preparing Black Youth to Work by Jawanza Kunjufu (highly recommended):  A must read for anyone trying to work with African American teens.  How values and desires must be addressed for work to be meaningful, including a satisfying challenge to American materialism.


Developing Positive Images and Discipline in Black Children by Jawanza Kunjufu:  Starts from challenges in African-American child development, looks at where children get their identity, argues for an Afro-centric education.


Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman:  What has television, multi-media, and gadgets done to us???  The title says it all.  A very readable study.


When Kumbaya Is Not Enough (1997), Agenda for Youth Ministry (1998), God at the Mall:  Youth Ministry That Meets Kids Where They’re At (2000), and A Theology of Youth Ministry:  Reflecting on Our Work With Young People from Biblical and Cultural Perspectives (out of print) by Dean Borgman:  Borgman is an expert on youth, especially youth spirituality.  Anything by him is excellent.



Race and Ethnicity

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum (required):  Excellent discussion on why minority groups form at a young age, what is the impact on minority youth when white culture is seen not just as a “culture,” but as “normal.”  Very helpful breakdown of stages of personal growth when coming to grips with one’s own race, whether black or white (or other). 


The Future of the Race by Henry Louis Gates III and Cornel West (required):  Two contemporary black Harvard professors wrestle with early 20th century black American scholar W.E.B. DuBois.  Why are the black “Talented Tenth” more pessimistic and discouraged than the other 90%?  West’s section – understanding the black struggle in America as a failure of the Enlightenment – is outstanding.


Divided by Faith by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith (required):  A very recent book by two white evangelicals.  Argues that racialization is a deeper driving force in American society than we think, and that the white evangelical church has a particular theology that makes it hard to understand the world.  Namely, it focuses on individualistic spiritual issues and is resistant to discussing broader social or community structures.


Latinos by Earl Shorris (for our household, read about the Puerto Ricans in ch.6, 10):  Fascinating history in storytelling form of virtually all the Latino groups from the Spanish Old World until today.  See also Distant Neighbors by Alan Riding about Mexico and the interaction between the U.S. and Mexico.


Strangers From a Different Shore and A Different Mirror:  A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki:  Strangers focuses on Asian immigration to America; especially helpful for Dorchester is the section on the Vietnamese.  Mirror is more broad, highlighting many different immigrant groups.


A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn:  American history as seen through the eyes of every oppressed or minority group in America.  Excellent use of statistics and original documents.  Heartbreaking to think about the native American experience.


Ensuring Inequality:  The Structural Transformation of the African-American Family by Donna L. Franklin:  Black women are more likely than ever to bear children as teenagers, to remain single, and to raise their children in poverty, leaving children without fathers and living in destitution.  Franklin discusses why the marriage and family experiences of African-Americans differs from those of white America, and highlights the historic, cultural, and political forces that have combined to create this divide.


Before the Mayflower by Jerome Bennett.  Traces black history from its origins in western Africa, through the transatlantic journey and slavery, the Reconstruction period, the Jim Crow era, and the civil rights movement, to life in the 1990s.


An Easy Burden by Andrew Young, the first black Congressman from George since the Reconstruction. One of the best histories of the Civil Rights Movement, told by an insider (Young was very close to MLK).  Takes readers to the streets of Birmingham, Selma, and Washington in a tumultuous time.  Young is part of the black middle class; see also John Lewis’ study of the Civil Rights Movement, Walking with the Wind, for a lower-income perspective.


The Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody.  Moody’s autobiographical story of growing up as a black woman in MI.  She eventually cannot return safely to her hometown, is estranged from family members who do not share her passionate commitment to fight racism, and questions MLK’s nonviolent stance. 


The Color of Water by James McBride:  Gripping autobiography of a half-black, half-Jewish man.  He writes movingly about his family’s struggles, in particular his strong Jewish mother.


Black Labor, White Wealth:  The Search for Power and Economic Justice by Claud Anderson.  A suggestion from a friend, who said it was powerful.  It won five stars on’s rating scale.


More Than Equals by Christopher Rice and Spencer Perkins:  Great look at how Christian racial reconciliation between black and white folks could look, and particularly helpful from the white perspective.


Let Justice Roll Down by John Perkins:  Perkins’ autobiography, spanning his early teen years in rural Mississippi when he saw his brother murdered by white police, through his encounter with Jesus, and to his current ministry reaching out to the black community.  Great intro to Perkins.



Urban/City Issues

Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas:  Pulitzer award winner, covering the turbulent Boston school bus controversy in the 1970’s.


Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation by Jonathan Kozol:  Kozol conducts interviews with people in the South Bronx, the poorest congressional district in the country.  Draws a vivid picture of an urban ghetto with its hunger, disease, drugs, and violence.  See also Ordinary Resurrections by Kozol.


A Heart for the City:  Effective Ministries to the Urban Community by John Fuder:  A collection of stories and reports from Christian ministries in urban Chicago, from inner city churches to city rescue missions, redevelopment projects, youth programs, and recovery programs.


The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jenkins:  Stimulating book to break into city planning circles.  Jenkins has a great eye for how sidewalks, public spaces, and diverse populations promote relationships and community, and how it can decline.


When Work Disappears:  The World of the New Urban Poor by William Julius Wilson:  Why jobs leave cities and how that affects inner city communities.


The Meaning of the City by Jacques Ellul:  Challenging analysis of the biblical theme of the city, from Cain’s city and Nimrod’s Babel to God’s New Jerusalem.  An excellent prophetic work, but somewhat lacking in textual analysis.


Life in the City by (yours truly) Mako Nagasawa:  Workbook-style study of the biblical theme of the city, combining Ellul’s work with some more textual analysis, added reflections, and contemporary examples.  Some have called it provocative and helpful.



Money, Rich, Poor

Money and Power by Jacques Ellul (highly recommended):  Excellent study of how money is a spiritual power opposed to God’s gift of free grace.  This book should be more widely read in the evangelical community.


Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger and Just Generosity by Ronald J. Sider:  Challenging combination of hard-hitting passages from the Bible on money and the sad state of affairs worldwide.


Shifting Fortunes by Chuck Collins, Betsy Leondar-Wright and Holly Sklar:  How the wealth gap has widened in America in 1990’s.


Wealth and Democracy by Kevin Phillips:  Phillips is a Republican of the Theodore Roosevelt stripe, which means he is extremely critical of how the Republican party (in his words) has sold the country to Wall Street; i.e. how wealth corrupts democracy.  Though not from a Christian perspective, this is a must read for those who consider themselves a "conservative."


An Economic History of the United States by Charles Beard:  A textbook for AP U.S. History, but nevertheless a classic invaluable for understanding how the United States has developed economically.



Personal Healing

Finding God by Larry Crabb:  Moves you from “using God to solve our problems” to “using our problems to find God.”  Passionate, thoughtful, very helpful to me in my own season of healing.


Healing Presence by Leanne Payne:  Payne’s premise is that many of our spiritual/emotional problems stem from not adequately understanding how being in Christ unites us lovingly with God.  This is a study of how to connect with God in prayer.  One of Ming’s favorites.


Connecting by Larry Crabb:  Is it detrimental that counseling and healing been left to a few certified professionals?  What could the church be as a community of counselors and healers?  This is Crabb’s vision for the church.  Could we translate his vision into an inner city context?



Other subjects to investigate:

Culture/History studies:  Haitians, Jamaicans, Hondurans, Vietnamese, Puerto Ricans


Biographies of black professionals:  Ben Carlson, etc.


The History of Rap, Caribbean and Latin music




Eyes on the Prize:  Major documentary about the Civil Rights Movement.  Invaluable!

The Color of Fear:  Documentary drawing six men (2 Af-Am, 2 Asian, 2 White) together to talk about race

Squeeze:  Gripping story about 3 boys growing up in Dorchester, MA.


Down in the Delta

When We Were Colored

Boyz in the Hood

Hoop Dreams


Mi Familia

Get on the Bus

New Jersey Drive