- Winner of a 2013 Leadership Journal Book Award ("Our Very Short List" in "The Leader's Outer Life" category)
- 2014 Readers' Choice Awards Honorable Mention
Despite Jesus' prayer that all Christians "be one," divisions have been epidemic in the body of Christ from the beginning to the present. We cluster in theological groups, gender groups, age groups, ethnic groups, educational and economic groups. We criticize freely those who disagree with us, don't look like us, don't act like us and don't even like what we like.
Though we may think we know why this happens, Christena Cleveland says we probably don't. In this eye-opening book, learn the hidden reasons behind conflict and divisions. Learn:
- Why I think all my friends are unique but those in other groups are all the same
- Why little differences often become big sources of conflict
- Why categorizing others is often automatic and helpful but can also have sinister side effects
- Why we are so often victims of groupthink and how we can avoid it
- Why women think men are judging them more negatively than men actually are, and vice versa
- Why choices of language can actually affect unity
With a personal touch and the trained eye of a social psychologist, Cleveland brings to bear the latest studies and research on the unseen dynamics at work that tend to separate us from others. Learn why Christians who have a heart for unity have such a hard time actually uniting. The author provides real insight for ministry leaders who have attempted to build bridges across boundaries.
Here are the tools we need to understand how we can overcome the hidden forces that divide us.
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About the Author
Christena Cleveland (Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara) is a social psychologist who teaches at St. Catherine University. She is an award-winning researcher and gifted teacher who brings organizational experience to her efforts to build unity. She consults with pastors and organizational leaders on multicultural issues and speaks regularly at organizations, churches, conferences, universities and schools.
Table of Contents
1. Right Christian, Wrong Christian
2. How Divisions Are Killing Us and Why We Should Care
3. Divisions Erected Out of Thin Air: How Categorizing Distorts How We See Each Other
4. Beyond Perceptions: How Categorizing Pollutes Our Interactions with Each Other
5. Running for Cover: How the Groups We Form Protect Our Identity and Self-Esteem
6. Waging Identity Wars: How Bias Boosts Our Self-Esteem
7. Culture Wars: How Cultural Threat Leads to Hostile Conflict
8. Blinded by Culture: How Our Culture Clouds Our Judgment
9. Creating Positive Crosscultural Interactions
10. The Preeminence of (Identity in) Christ: How Things Can and Should Be
What People are Saying About This
"In this wise and approachable book, Christena Cleveland brings a fresh perspective on the importance of doing our own 'perspective taking' to uncover blind spots, identify internalized fears and expose privileged assumptions within the body of Christ that keep us caught in uniformity and division, rather than celebrating our unity and diversity in the image of the triune God. With humor, grace and solid research, Cleveland encourages the church toward practical, theological renewal by dismantling cultural categories and false boundaries in order to undertake the risky, exhilarating, cruciform work of crosscultural reconciliation. She does not consider this to be an optional idea. Rather, Cleveland rightly assumes that multiethnic, crosscultural reconciliation manifests the church's glorious, nonnegotiable life in the kingdom of God, and she leaves us better equipped to enact that life together."
"A unique, down-to-earth but delightful and fast-moving confession about a thoughtful and fun trip through the vicissitudes of personal experience and growth in the meaning of Christianity."
"Christena Cleveland's book is delightful, witty and deeply insightful! She effortlessly weaves her own voice and stories with compelling social psychological research to convey an urgent, informed message that church leaders, educators and lay Christians will find profoundly useful."
"In Disunity in Christ, Christena Cleveland provides an insightful analysis of why we all say we want unity but find it so difficult to gain it. Combining a humble Christian tone, familiarity with many types of churches and skillful use of social science, Disunity in Christ reveals to us those very human tendencies that keep us divided. Along the way, Cleveland helps us to see, laugh at and rethink our very selves. This book will effectively help any Christian or church wanting a deeper experience of the reconciliation we have in the body of Christ. As a pastor serving a church of some thirty nationalities, I found it an extremely useful analysis of what hurts and helps unity."
"Disunity in Christ is an honest and sophisticated account of the disunity within the Christian community. Highlighting social-psychological principles backed by a large body of scientific research, Cleveland both explains why human nature allowsperhaps even facilitatesthis disunity, and outlines steps for overcoming it. The book is unapologetically hopeful and insightful. It emphasizes Christ's underlying message of unity in a down-to-earth, heartwarming and easily accessible way. Readers can experience a sense of fellowship with the author as they relate to her experiences. The refreshing insights within each chapter and the thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter make this book an excellent discussion starter and a wonderful teaching tool."
"If you are concerned about healing the schisms within Christianityor for that matter, between Christians and non-Christiansthis is the book for you. Clearheaded, well written and funny, it is a serious attempt to do something important."
"Weaving together research from social psychology with engagingand sometimes hilarious!stories from her own life, Christena Cleveland has given us a unique and important work on a matter of extreme importance. Written with a clarity and style that is accessible to all, this marvelous book is as informative as it is practical, as challenging as it is entertaining, and as insightful as it is fun (yes, a book on reconciliation that is fun!). Every Christian concerned about reconciliation in the churchand all Christians should bewill benefit from reading Disunity in Christ."
"'Witty, thought-provoking, engaging and delightful-to-read book' best characterizes this well-informed analysis of major divisions that fracture churches within contemporary America. Christena Cleveland's ability to weave autobiography, sociology and social psychology into her fine analysis of the topic offers stunning insight into congregational life today. May serious Christians enter the conversation that she has graciously framed."
"Disunity in Christ is a very significant book for twenty-first-century Christians and congregations. Using accessible language and concepts, Christena Cleveland offers profound insights from social psychology to clarify the many reasons for the troubling and rampant divisions found in Christianity. She also suggests very practical strategies for creating greater unity. This book is a must-read for pastors, lay leaders, seminarians and college students. The integrity of Christianity depends on a church not only committed to reconciliation but moving toward real unity. Cleveland unveils a clear, compelling and realistic path to get us there."