As I read this wonderful book, I cried. I cried because someone loves the people of New Orleans enough to seek out the stories that are the lives of a few mirroring the lives of many. My friend, William Barnwell, has brought the skill of listening to a new level. One definition of the word listen is ‘paying attention to.’ By re-counting the experiences of youth and young adult African American New Orleanians, William pays attention to the current motivating and challenging influences of the city.
For people of faith, we are reminded that the concept of church really does embrace Christians being and living Christ’s love alongside the culture, gifts, and challenges of communities. Thank you, William, for courageously sharing examples of the Church at work for justice and righteousness in the face of tough realities. The book does such a great job emphasizing the intersections of faith, family, culture, and community relationships across all levels.
As you read the book, allow yourself to feel the rhythm of life, love, and promise of your own city!
–Linetta J. Gilbert
There are two types of people who come from Louisiana, preachers and storytellers. Although he’s an Episcopal clergyman, William Barnwell falls in the storyteller category.
Just as the Bible conveys its messages through tales and parables, Barnwell helps us feel and celebrate the situation of our less-privileged brethren through their stories. He is not only a master storyteller, he is able to help others become storytellers. By knowing how to listen and by venturing out into the neighborhoods of New Orleans, he is able to encourage, with his genial and loving manner, other people to relate their own experiences.
Alex Haley once said that the most powerful phrase in the English language was, ‘let me tell you a story.’ Barnwell empowers others and deepens our sense of love and justice by letting those whose voices that are sometimes not heard tell us their stories. We should read this book daily and be inspired by it.