Each month the Bishop Payne Library invites a member of the VTS faculty
to share what books they are reading for research, curriculum or pleasure.
The Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes is the Associate Dean of Chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary. Here are his recommendations:
Edward E. Baptist, The Half Has Never Been Told (Basic Books, 2014)
Baptist writes a scholarly yet accessible book which relentlessly builds the case that American wealth is fundamentally built on the backs of slaves. He tells our national economic story told in souls and suffering. Baptist’s work gives powerful data to build a case for reparations. There is a debt to pay for generations of slavery, not to mention Jim Crow and systemic racism to this day. If anyone one feels that white privilege is not imbedded in every fiber of our society, then this is a book to read.
Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism (Beacon Press, 2018)
This New York Times best seller holds up a mirror to white Americans. I did not find this comfortable to read, but necessary. If those of us who are white are going to take responsibility for our racial bias and see our own complicity with our white privilege, DiAngelo has words we need to read, mark, and inwardly digest!
David M. Rubenstein, The American Story (Simon and Schuster, 2019)
I find biography and biographers riveting. I am in awe of Robert Caro who has spent his life on his multivolume biography of Lyndon Johnson. And we are indebted to Ron Chernow who biography of Alexander Hamilton found its way into the hands of Lin-Manuel Miranda! The American Story is a compilation of interviews of notable historians sharing the lives of presidents, inventors, soldiers, and prophets. We learn more of our story through their stories. And, we glimpse something of the art of storytelling.