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David Dark

God With Us (and Them)

From time to time, not as frequently as one would like but not as rarely as one might fear, a busy editor's day is disrupted by the arrival of a book with an inimitable and irresistible voice. We only intended to skim it when we took it out of its shipping envelope, with a quick glance at the table of contents, the first few pages, and the index—taking the literary vital signs that allow readers, like emergency room nurses, to perform rapid triage. But we find ourselves increasingly absorbed in its pages, neglecting the rest of the mail on our desk, the bouncing icon on our screen, and the blinking light on our phone. A book like this is like treasure hidden in a field. The one who finds it goes away rejoicing, and also misses the 4:35 train.

David Dark's book The Gospel According to America packs that kind of punch. Dark has several things going for him. He is from the South, the region that has provided some of America's most vivid and idiosyncratic voices—the region where being American is most deeply and continually both a point of pride and a problem. He is a high school English teacher, which means that he has had to become adept at stirring sleepy students into awareness of a grand conversation that both transcends and includes the popular culture they absorb every day. But perhaps most important, he is dangerously and delightfully intoxicated by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

All of which makes him an ideal person to answer our question, How can followers of Christ be a counterculture for the common good?

What you believe is what you see is what you are is what you do. —Stanley Fish

Way back in the Sixties in a small, second-floor apartment in Nashville, a struggling singer-songwriter named Kris Kristofferson sat scandalized by a story he happened upon in the pages of Life magazine. It appeared that the lone white Baptist minister to sit alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., at the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (who'd also accompanied ...

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