Verna Dozier, a Christian educator and lay theologian, is honored in this wonderful collection of her writings edited by Cynthia L. Shattuck and Fredrica Harris Thompsett. Some of the material here is being published for the first time; it has been drawn from interviews, oral histories, and other occasional sources. Dozier was born in 1917 and graduated from the District of Columbia's Dunbar High School. A bright student, she entered Howard University at fifteen and went on to earn a masters degree. Dozier taught English literature and was an administrator in the District's high schools. In 1975, after thirty-four years of teaching, she became a full-time Christian educator and theologian. In alliance with the Alban Institute, she gained widespread recognition as a skilled and inspiring workshop leader and advocate for an increased role for laity in Christian congregations. "There are no second-class citizens in the household of God" she has written.
This collection of her writings reveals her talents as a Bible teacher, a prophet speaking out for social justice, and a lay theologian who has great respect for ambiguity in our age of religious pluralism. Dozier presents thought-provoking commentary on the church as 'the People of God," the need for socially conscious believers to attack systemic evils in society, the many ways in which the Bible is misused, the engaging mystery of the Trinity, and the role of the saints in the modern world. Here is an example of a Dozier observation that rings with authenticity and relevance to our times:
"Are we servants of God, or are we servants of the status quo? . . . The church as one structure became subservient to another power: to kings. It became the handmaiden of the state. The church lost its vision of being a disturber of the status quo and became a supporter of the status quo. In the movie Breaker Morant, the priest blessed the troops that were going out to fight a 'holy war.' He said, 'God can use to his purposes war as well as peace.' The reason the church got into the business of supporting 'holy wars' was that kings were determined to have wars and anybody who said war was wrong was going to be executed, exiled, or rendered irrelevant."