Better: Waking Up to Who We Could Be
by Melvin Bray
Foreword by Brittney Cooper
“Lord have mercy—I needed BETTER.” ―Glennon Doyle, NYT bestselling author of Untamed and Love Warrior
Whether you want to be a better person of faith, a better parent, a better storyteller, a better justice-seeker, a better writer, a better student, or a better entrepreneur, BETTER begins now.
In BETTER: Waking Up to Who We Could Be, recovering fundamentalist and Emmy-award winning storyteller Melvin Bray invites us to reimagine the way we tell our faith stories to help create a more true and beautiful world for all people. Our faith stories are meant to free us, not hold us hostage, as they so often do, and in Better, he teaches us how to “compost” our stories to produce more nourishing ones; how to reimagine faith stories that inspire more beautiful, more just, more virtue-filled ways of being in the world and lead to the beloved community we seek.
BETTER offers a spiritual path for those who question God, religion, and the world, allowing them to continue to hold onto their faith, while joining others of goodwill in seeking sustainable, cooperative, and courageous answers to the seemingly intractable problems of our time.
“Lord have mercy—I needed BETTER. I needed Melvin's imagination, wisdom, commitment to grace, and the seriousness and playfulness with which he approaches God, scripture and love. The only way forward for people of light is to wake up to our faith as a unifying source of light and healing. In BETTER, Melvin shows us the way.” ―Glennon Doyle, NYT bestselling author of Untamed and Love Warrior
“For those frustrated by the way our faith stories have been held captive by fundamentalism and toxic religiosity, Melvin Bray calls us to compost rotting ideology into life-giving spirituality. His effective retelling of faith narratives move us into better ways of living in Beloved Community. Read this book and be equipped, inspired, and challenged to go tell better stories in your community!”-Cindy Wang Brandt, author, Parenting Forward, and blogger at Unfundamentalist Parenting
”Melvin Bray's Better deserves your time and attention. It will introduce you to the wisdom of one of the most delightful and insightful moral and spiritual educators I've ever met. It will help you read the Bible in a fresh and desperately needed way. And it will equip you to become a better teller of better stories to build a better world. ―Brian D. McLaren, author,The Great Spiritual Migration
“I am grateful for Melvin Bray, and for his witness, especially at 'such a time as this.’” ―Shane Claiborne, author and activist
“A breath of fresh air for people suffocating under rigid, compassionless faith traditions that marginalize Grace, Justice and Compassion. The world is in need of better stories, a better way and a new lens to see an old story. In an age of fear, racial anxiety, and xenophobia we need this radical epistle of love more than ever to reroute the course of our beloved yet static institutions. Bravo! This is the book I have praying for." ―Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Trinity United Church of Christ (Chicago), author of Blue Note Preaching in a Post-Soul World
“Bray positions Better as an escape route for persons living under religious oppression. In Better, Bray masterfully recalibrates the tension between faith and formation. He captures the cadence of culture and argues that knowing how to survive doesn’t make us Better. Bray has his finger on the pulse of the fate awaiting [faith] communities that refuse to re-imagine their story. Better is the spark plug needed to ignite any beloved community to bend toward justice." ―Bishop K. Edwin Bryant, PhD., author, Paul and the Rise of the Slave
“Sometimes the premise of a book is profoundly simple: we can tell, engage in, and embrace better stories. Author and storyteller Melvin Bray wakes his reader to this truth in his new book, Better: Waking Up to Who We Could Be. A recovering fundamentalist, Bray engages with his audience, no matter their place in the journey. Largely leaning into the concept of story, each chapter follows the same outline: introductory story, Bray’s intuition, and an identification of the “COMPOST’ method — a nourishing and revitalizing form of storytelling.
The result is a deeply engaging theological work that leans into the revolutionary message of Jesus, rooted in relevant issues of racial and social justice — because this is the heart of Christianity.
Likewise, Bray focuses a good deal of his time on the Third Isaiah promise, which gives ‘a name and a voice to aliens and orphans, women and eunuchs.’ Page after page is dedicated to a renewed sense of storytelling, particularly when it comes to engaging with the Bible.....Bray not only tells better biblical stories, but he also tells better stories of cultural relevance. He notes how the U.S. government has executed ‘various regime changes fourteen times in its nearly 240 years of existence.’ The story then told to women, to people of color, and to immigrant and refugee populations is far from the teachings of Jesus....
Personally, I needed Melvin Bray’s words. I need his gentle call to change and his mighty exhortation to lean into new stories of ourselves, of the Bible, and of the world around us. As we do this, we embody the vision of beloved community, ‘doing well in relationship to each other.’
And isn’t that the hope of betterment for us all?” ―Cara Meredith, Red Letter Christians, March 20, 2017