THE SPIRITED BOOK CLUB welcomes author Elle Dowd to DISCUSS her memoir, ‘BAPTIZED IN TEAR GAS’
In Baptized in Tear Gas, pastor and activist Elle Dowd tells the gripping story of her transformation into an Assata Shakur-reading, courthouse-occupying abolitionist with an arrest record, hungry for the revolution.
All money Elle makes from the sale of these books will go to Black activists, political prisoners, liberation organizations, community bail funds, and families who have lost loved ones to state violence.
For years Elle Dowd considered herself an advocate for justice, but her well-meaning support always took a back burner to what Martin Luther King Jr. called the tension-free, ordered “negative peace” of white moderates. Then Michael Brown, a Black man, was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent Uprising changed everything.
In Baptized in Tear Gas, minister and activist Elle Dowd tells the gripping story of her transformation into an Assata Shakur-reading, courthouse-occupying abolitionist with an arrest record, hungry for the revolution. Thanks to deep relationships with people in Ferguson and St. Louis, and to experiencing a fraction of the system for herself–including the fear of rubber bullets, the shock of sound cannons, and running from tear gas–Dowd fully committed to the work of anti-racism and abolition. Now she wants to help other white allies do the same.
Like in baptism, this transformation requires parts of us to die: our lack of power analysis, our commitment to white niceness, our tone policing, our respectability politics–all of those impulses we have been socialized by since birth must die so that something new can be resurrected in our lives and in the world. The uprising in Ferguson changed Dowd, and through it, God made her into something new.
Now it’s our turn.
REVIEWS FOR baptized in tear gas
“Elle Dowd is the only white writer I have ever encountered in this weird space of progressive Christianity talking to her cousins about their sin of racism who isn’t making a dime from her book–100 percent of every dime she makes off this book goes back to the community she learned from. That’s the best–but far from the only–reason to listen to her or buy this book.” –Lenny Duncan, author of United States of Grace and Dear Church
“In Elle Dowd’s transformative memoir, we see that the grueling fight to uproot white supremacy–christened and propagated by no less than our own church fathers–is indeed holy work. Dowd is baptized in tear gas, purified by truth, and willing to wake us up from our sleep.” –Brenda Marie Davies, creator of God Is Grey and author of On Her Knees: Memoir of a Prayerful Jezebel
“Captivating. This book…inspires readers to join her in the harrowing and holy work of traveling along the road away from White moderation and toward abolition.” –Christian Century
“In the ever-sharpening glare of white supremacy, Dowd casts a vision for a transformed people and church, showing by example how we can move past Dr. King’s ‘white moderate’ into a faithful body willing to confront our own complicity and challenge the lies of American racism.” –Emmy Kegler, author of All Who Are Weary and One Coin Found
“While many books convict and educate white Christians about white supremacy, racial capitalism, and anti-Black racism, Baptized in Tear Gas compels and equips you to do something about these matters.” –The Rev. Mike Kinman, rector of All Saints Church, Pasadena, California
“This book is a much-needed addition to the antiracist conversation, one that moves white folks beyond basics to a passionate belief in abolition and liberation. Elle Dowd is the real deal.” –Father Shannon TL Kearns and Brian G. Murphy, co-founders of QueerTheology.com
“If you are a white person of faith wrestling with the state-sanctioned violence you witness in the streets of America, this book is a must-read. Dowd’s stories and theological insights will steel our resolve for the next time we demand justice and are met with tear gas, white supremacist hatred, and our own insecurities.” –Nathan Roberts, pastor and community organizer in Minneapolis, editor of The Salt Collective magazine, and author of two books
CLUB DISCUSSION date
BOOK CLUB MEETING October 13 @ 2:00 pm
++Book discussion facilitated by Sheri Brown
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elle Dowd (she/they) is a bi-furious pastor who preaches, writes and teaches about God’s desire to liberate us from the things we use to oppress each other: cis-heterosexism, racism, ableism, queerphobia, colonialism, misogyny, childism, capitalism and white supremacy.
She believes we must decolonize the Christian Church and other American institutions, that a queer/femme interpretation of scripture is at the center of grace, and all bodies – including yours – are beautifully and wonderfully made.
Dowd is a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She was radicalized in St. Louis, where she learned from the revolutionary, queer, Black leadership during the Ferguson Uprising. Dowd was formerly a co-conspirator with the movement to #decolonize Lutheranism and currently organizes as a faith leader with SOUL in Chicago, serves on the board of Euro-Descent Lutherans for Racial Justice, writes regularly for the Disrupt Worship Project, and facilitates workshops on gender, sexuality, and the church. Elle Dowd lives in Chicago with her spouse and two Sierra Leonean daughters.