Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Beyond the Possible by Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani
Beyond the Possible tells the story of how Glide came to be, starting with the childhood and formative years of Williams and Mirikitani. The early lives of these two are worthy of print on their own. Williams grew up in a segregated Texas town in the 1930s. He was a good student and athlete, and worked hard to get into college. After he graduated from college, he was one of five young men who helped desegregate the all-white Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. The students at Perkins had made a formal request to desegregate their school. This was the first voluntary desegregation of a major educational institution in the South.
During World War II, when Mirikitani was about two years old, her family was interred at the Rohwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas. Her family never expected her to do much else other than marry and provide a good home life for a husband, but she pushed herself to do much more.
The personal journeys of Williams and Mirikitani, combined with the the revival of a dying church in the middle of San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood, make for an extremely compelling narrative. Much like the story of Glide, the story of Williams and Mirikitani is winding and intricate. I feel at a loss when I try to sum up either, not sure of what to leave out. It all seems so integral.
I am quite cynical when it come to religion--particularly religious institutions. And while I still hesitate to call myself an atheist, deep down, I know that label probably fits better than any other. In spite of this, or perhaps it is because of this, I found the story of Glide extremely compelling. A church that is a group of people advocating for social justice and loving others unconditionally is a church that I could see myself attending... occasionally.