Change You Can Damn Well Believe in: a book review

Tom Sine is something of a senior statesman for Christianity and social change. He first published The Mustard Seed Conspiracy in the early 80s as a trumpet blast call to radical discipleship. In the late 90s he wrote Mustard Seed vs. McWorld to explore the power of the small, incremental change of the Kingdom of God. His new book, Live Like You Give a Damn!  hones in on the concept of social change in today’s world and the role younger generations can play in effecting change.

9781498206259The title of the book takes a nod to a ‘Eat like you give a damn!’ t-shirt worn by the wait staff of Portage Bay Cafe. Sine ate with his wife there after attending a recent conference of social innovators. He saw the shirt and blurted out, “That’s it! I need to join these social innovators and start living like I give a damn” (20). The entire book is a tool for looking at your world and neighborhood, dreaming and enacting new possibilities by joining the ‘changemaking celebration.’

The book begins by examining some global issues we face and some of the ways individuals, churches and organizations are already enacting social change. Sine identifies two steams of social innovation: the social entrepreneurial stream which involves creating businesses with societal and environmental impact, and the community empowerment stream which aims at increasing the capacities of neighborhoods for sustainability, resilience and mutual care. The exploration of these streams is interactive. There are ‘conversation’ and ‘dreaming-and-scheming’ sections built into each chapter.

Sine is a futurist who is committed to a lifestyle of radical discipleship in the way of Jesus. The change making celebration he is inviting us to includes living generously and simply, caring for the environment, and confronting systemic injustice. There is a lot to chew on in this volume and lots of exciting examples of what people are doing. However, this book has the occasional  distracting editorial lapse. For example, “Alberta, in Canada, is one of the first cities in North America to invite the Abundant Community Initiative to be field-tested as a way to create connected and empowered communities in the city of Alberta” (106). Alberta is a province and the city that Sine means to point us to is Edmonton. This is the equivalent of a Canadian author referring to the great city of Texas when he means Austin.

I like the lifestyle Sine is calling us to. I think this book is most helpful in dreaming possibilities but of less practical use. This is a compelling invitation to join the ‘changemaking celebration and live like we give a damn. I give this three-and-a-half stars and recommend it for dreamers and schemers and those who are wondering how to best impact their world.

Note: I received this book from SpeakEasy in exchange for my honest review.



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I am a pastor, husband, father, instigator, pray-er, hoper, writer, trouble-maker, peacemaker, and friend. Who are you?

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