Roger Williams' Little Book of Virtues by Becky Garrison
In Roger Williams' Little Book of Virtues, religion writer Becky Garrison delves into the life of her 11th and 12th great-grandfather to uncover the untold story behind this forgotten pioneer of religious liberty. Employing a format reminiscent of How Proust Can Change Your Life and The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality, Garrison examines Roger Williams' work through the lens of the four classical virtues, which as she observes define values that have an almost universal consensus regardless of one’s particular belief system.
How can Roger Williams' life and ministry shed light the role of the citizens in a global pluralized world? Throughout the book, Garrison speaks to those who share Williams' concerns about the historical influence of a politicized and exclusionary faith that enforces its will via governmental intervention. Garrison asks why this conversation focusing on the role of religion in public life got relegated to moralists like William J. Bennett who crafted a fundamentalist rulebook that in essence beat the virtues to death.
In this age of horizontal social media, what prevents people from standing up to these modern-day Goliaths and taking away their media megaphone? Here Garrison sees hope in the rise of the "nones" for a new conversation. Like Williams, these seekers follow their own spiritual path and create spaces that embrace all including women, people of color, LGBT folks and others marginalized by the institutional church.
Becky Garrison contributes to a range of outlets including The Washington Post's On Faith column, The Guardian, The Revealer, Believe Out Loud, and American Atheist. Her seven books include Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church (PW, starred review).