Hope Rising by Scott C. Todd is the kind of book you are scared to read. With a subtitle like “How Christians Can End Extreme Poverty in this Generation,” why wouldn’t you be afraid to read it? You read that subtitle and think two things. First, you think it’s impossible to end extreme poverty in this generation. Second, you wonder: what if this book does tell me how it is possible? If it does, you know it will only be possible if you do something. I knew this book would call me to action, and that scared me.
Don’t let fear stop you from reading this book. On the other hand, don’t read this book if your only definition of activism is using a hashtag on Twitter to raise awareness and figure you’ve done your duty. While reading a book like this only as effective as the response to action on the part of the reader, I believe this book is worth reading.
This book is divided into five parts. Part one sets the stage by exploring some of our misconceptions about poverty and calling readers to develop new expectations. In part two, he debunks some myths about poverty, even our very understanding of the definition of poor, citing uses of “poor” in the biblical narrative. Part three explores the question: what type of people can end extreme poverty? Part four explores the strategy to end poverty through three sectors: government, business, and the church/nonprofit. Part five serves as a multiple chapter conclusion, sharing options and providing a final word of hope.
“Poverty is a deprivation of basic human needs, but it is also a lie. A lie whispered in the ears of those close to his breath–‘You can’t. Just give up.’ And this is the most dehumanizing effect of all. To conquer extreme poverty, we have to dispel that lie with the truth” (p. 60).
I found this book to be challenging and enlightening. The chapters are short but powerful. It would be easier to see how this book could be all doom and gloom, but he provides hopeful statistics. He also provides some statistics that go straight to your gut. For example,
“Americans spent $41,200,000,000 during the 2009 Black Friday weekend […]. In a single weekend, Americans spent twice what it would cost to provide clean water to every person on earth” (p. 52).
I appreciate that it does not try to oversimplify complex problems, but he does use personal stories to connect the problems. There are tools and resources. I walked away from this book not feeling discouraged, but with an unsettledness. It is unsettling because I know there must be something I can do.
I remember in my Public Speaking class, we were instructed to write a persuasive speech using Monroe’s Motivated Sequence. If you are familiar, you know it follows five steps: Attention, Need, Satisfaction, Visualization, and Action. I think this book very strongly grabs attention, shows the need by describing the problem, providing details to visualize the certain situation and visualize the results of taking action, but I do think this book falls short on satisfaction and action, which should present a solution and provide tangible ways to respond. Part four and five are the weakest parts of the book, when they really should be the strongest.
So what can I do? How is this book calling me to change?
I think it begins with a change of attitude and perspective. Ending poverty begins with refusing to believe the lie that there’s nothing that can be done. The author compares it to fasting. In the midst of sacred moments, we respond appropriately. (He gives the example that you would not eat potato chips while saying your wedding vows.) Likewise, we are called to re-evaluate our focus and view of poverty.
“[Fasting] is a change of appetite, a new desire, which motivates our actions in response to the grief and embraces the sacred opportunity” (p. 45).
Sometimes when my to-do list is too long, I feel paralyzed, so I end up watching Netflix. Of course, I then feel worse and more paralyzed. I don’t start to feel better until I do something. The same goes for poverty. It can seem overwhelmingly paralyzing, but it won’t get better without action. That is what this book tells us. I recommend this book, but even more than that, I recommend action. This book tries to open your eyes that there are opportunities to do something all around you.
“Authentic action is always motivated by something beyond itself and strives for the advancement of another” (p. 45)
You can purchase the book on Amazon here.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.