Editor’s Note: I was honored to read this book earlier in January, and parts were hard-hitting. And Shauna is a friend! Below, she reviews Dennae’s new book and you’ll find a “Getting to Know You” piece by Shauna!
Before I give Shauna the stage, I’ll say a few things. I’m always excited to pick up books by Christian cohorts, so I immediately ordered Dennae’s book. Alongside Dennae’s unflinching Christian point of view, there is an undaunted call for social justice. I appreciate that so very much! For me, two pivotal sections were “Lost Love” and “Black and Brown Solidarity.”
Shauna is a perfect reviewer for this. Great writer. Reads a lot. Smart, sassy. At times, I know, she’s considered me—of all people!—too conservative, and I’ve thought that she’s a bit too liberal. Those terms are sketchy, though. Dennae writes from neither the left, nor the right; she rights from the godly. And so Shauna and I get to meet here. Others might want to join us.
Also, Anthony Vasquez did the artwork.
Violence can never overtake beauty
Though it rages like a forest fire
And burns like the sun
No matter what it scorches
Beauty will break through
The title of Dennae Pierre’s new book is Healing Prayers & Meditations to Resist a Violent World (for peoples weary of injustice.) Weary. If there was a single word to express the state of my spirit these past few years, it is weary. As a Black and Mexican woman, I am weary of trying to understand how my white “evangelical” brothers and sisters are seemingly blind to the racism that is entrenched in the very land on which we stand. I am weary of trying to understand how Republicanism is exalted to the point of idolatry in many “churches.” I am weary of explaining violence and hatred to my four daughters. I am weary of hearing that the statement “Black Lives Matter” is problematic, while “Make America Great Again” is not.
At the beginning of quarantine, my family and I watched RCC’s livestream service and Pastor Isiah Oakes led the benediction. This was before we knew how long quarantine would last and before we knew how many hundreds of thousands of people would die of COVID-19. The gentle nature of his prayer brought tears to my eyes. So simple. So kind. Like a glass of cool water in the desert. I find Dennae’s book to have the same effect on me.
Everything from the cover of the book to the soothing illustrations within invites you to take a deep breath and grieve. Her poems expressed so many things that I could never find the words for. They are gentle yet prophetic. She examines her own heart in many poems while questioning the hypocrisy that is so evident in the church. I was moved by her meditations on those lost to police brutality. She has a heart for immigrants and the poor. She discusses the nature of motherly love in the context of the Church. It is nice to know that allies hear the sorrow of people who look like me.
Even in times of deep grief, God is near. He is near in music and laughter. He is near in the hugs and smiles of those you love. And sometimes He draws near to you in the words of a dear sister that say, “I see you. I am hurting too.”
Getting To Know Shauna Morales
Where did you grow up and how did you end up here? I grew up in Phoenix. I met Cesar in high school. We ended up at RCC because the church we previously attended was very toxic.
What’s your job? Before COVID, I was a dance teacher for children. I am not sure when or if I can go back. I hope to obtain my M.F.A and become a published writer!
Why are you at Roosevelt? We attend Roosevelt because of the diversity. It is always a red flag to me when I attend a church, and there are no Black or brown people. Also, our RCC triad group has been a lifeline to us during the pandemic. It has been comforting to have people call and check up on us and share our prayers and joys.
How long have you been here? I want to say seven years? It may be longer than that. Our attendance was not always regular.
How long have you been a Christian? I was raised in Sunday School and my grandma always talked to me about God. I would say I have always been a Christian, but it wasn’t until my twenties when I became a mother and wife that we began to read the Bible and become more intentional about our faith.
What are your hobbies? I love taking naps. It might not be a hobby and I don’t know why I love them so much, but I have always loved a good nap. I also love doing Pilates and yoga and laughing with my husband and trying new food with my family.
Name two things on your bucket list. Okay, so I want to try food from all 7 continents. I want to try the best cuisine in places like Mexico and China and Japan. Another one is to complete a book.
What is your favorite book? I do not think I have read my favorite book yet. But when I first began studying Christianity, I loved anything written by C.S. Lewis. I also really enjoy nonfiction and humorous books.
What is your favorite movie? Wow. That’s hard too. I really love the theme behind The Lion King, I am also really getting in to older black and white movies. There are some really good ones out there! I don’t think I have a favorite, though, because I am not really a movie person—I always end up falling asleep!