How to Have an Enemy: Righteous Anger and the Work of Peace


Product Details

$16.99  $15.80
Herald Press (VA)
Publish Date
5.28 X 7.95 X 0.71 inches | 0.44 pounds

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About the Author

Melissa Florer-Bixler is a writer and pastor with degrees from Duke University and Princeton Theological Seminary. Her ministry at Raleigh Mennonite Church has been featured in The Atlantic and Sojourners. She writes for Geez Magazine, Christian Century, and Anabaptist World, among others. She is the author of Fire by Night: Finding God in the Pages of the Old Testament. She lives with her husband and three children in Raleigh, North Carolina.


"How to Have an Enemy is a powerfully disruptive book. Rejecting calls for superficial 'unity' and shallow 'forgiveness, ' Melissa Florer-Bixler shows how the path to true reconciliation entails inescapable enmity, collective anger, and the dismantling of power, all fueled by a liberating love."----KRISTIN KOBES DU MEZ, author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation
"In How to Have an Enemy, Melissa Florer-Bixler reminds us that a Jesus-shaped love is not passive acceptance of everyone's opinion but a fierce movement that requires all of us to bend toward justice. This book shows us that for Melissa, the work of peace is just that: work. And she has an unflinching determination to do that work and to drag as many of us along as she can. I have no doubt she will succeed."----JARED BYAS, author of Love Matters More and cohost of the podcast The Bible for Normal People
"Waging peace on a weary world that just wants to teach war or hear rumors of war, Melissa Florer-Bixler has once again declared the work of peacemaking hard, arduous, and holy. This book is a gift to those who want to gain the ability to recognize when peacemaking begins and to be open to the possibility of an end of all enemies. This book is true because this work is true for the writer."----LENNY DUNCAN (he/him), author of Dear Church and United States of Grace and pastor of Jubilee Collective in Vancouver, Washington
"In a time defined by fuzzy terms like polarization and division, we are still struggling to understand what it means to live among people who wish us ill, including those in our own churches. In How to Have an Enemy, Melissa Florer-Bixler moves past easy ideas of peaceful coexistence and into the greater challenge of understanding how interwoven oppressions keep us entrenched in 'us and them' thinking, as well as how we need to deconstruct our own prejudices to move through simplistic ideas of division and into a more awakened consciousness. This is a book that doesn't let readers off easily, that disturbs and provokes, much like the Gospels."
----KAYA OAKES, journalist and author of The Defiant Middle
"In the face of 2020's apocalyptic revelations about the frailty of unfettered capitalism and the long-running systems of white violence comes How to Have an Enemy. Melissa Florer-Bixler offers expansive knowledge of Christian and American history--particularly the long systems of racism we'd rather not acknowledge. She presents with unrelenting firmness the ragged facts of humanity's--even, and especially, Christianity's--capacity for violence. She does not shy away, and will not allow us to, either. Yet with persistence and gentleness she holds us to the promise of resurrection we know in Jesus, with transformative conviction that we, too, might die to sin and rise to new life. Do not read this book unless you are prepared to have your soul shaken and your heart convicted."----EMMY KEGLER, pastor, speaker, and author of One Coin Found: How God's Love Stretches to the Margins
"Pastor Melissa Florer-Bixler takes us on a journey that unlocks the colonized mind, helping the reader confront the oversimplification of the gospel. She says, 'It is the work of the gospel to uncover the source of our enmity, to stand fully before it, to confront it, and to be transformed.' Pastor Melissa challenges us to move away from platitudes and a watered-down view of Christ's teaching and pick up the good news of transformation and liberation that causes systems of injustice to be broken apart. This book is a call to action for the church of today, a powerful tool to help rescue the good news from those who seek to use its words to oppress and hold people in spiritual bondage."----GLEN GUYTON, executive director of Mennonite Church USA and author of Reawakened: Activate Your Congregation to Spark Lasting Change
"Jesus called his followers to love their enemies, but this commandment has been weaponized to pacify Christians in the face of injustice. Melissa Florer-Bixler's How to Have an Enemy will transform your understanding of this foundational Christian idea. She guides us past the mollifying interpretation of Jesus' words and reveals how enemy-love supports the work of liberation."----GUTHRIE GRAVES-FITZSIMMONS, author of Just Faith: Reclaiming Progressive Christianity
"How to Have an Enemy draws on the poetry of Scripture to empower us to name and call out our enemies as Jesus did. In challenging us to redefine the principles of a judicial system that targets and disproportionately punishes colored bodies, Melissa Florer-Bixler creates a new lens through which to observe our enemies, intimately drawing us closer to the other in a manner that invites lament, reconnection, and repentance towards healing and rightful justice. Capturing what it means to create and dismantle the role of the enemy, this book is essential for a country divided by an era of opposition."----GRACE JI-SUN KIM, professor of theology and Earlham School of Religion and author of Hope in Disarray