And the Criminals With Him (Amazon link, Cascade link) is a new volume of essays edited by my friend Richard Goode that commemorates and continues the prophetic legacy of Will Campbell--Civil Rights activist, bootleg preacher, author (his most well known book is Brother to a Dragonfly), and prophetic gadfly.
In 1965 the Committee of Southern Churchmen began publishing, with Campbell and James Holloway at the editorial helm, the journal Katallagete: Be Reconciled. During its time Katallagete featured essays from, among others, Thomas Merton, William Stringfellow, Jacques Ellul, Walker Percy, and Daniel and Philip Berrigan. (For more on the history and theological legacy of Katallagete let me point you to this article by Steven Miller.)
In 1972 Campbell published an issue of Katallagete aimed at exposing the inhumanity of the US prison system. Now, forty years later, the essays of And the Criminals With Him, revisits and updates that seminal issue. From the book description:
In 1972, Will Campbell published an issue of the Committee of Southern Churchmen's journal, Katallagete, to shed light on the US prison system. None could anticipate how the system would expand exponentially in the next four decades. Today, the US operates the world's largest prison system, incarcerating nearly 1 in every 100 American adults. How did this expansion happen? What is the human toll of this retributive system? How might "ambassadors of reconciliation" respond to such a punitive institution?I have an essay in And the Criminals With Him entitled "On Fear and Following" taken from reflections I first shared here. For churches with prison ministries or for individuals engaged in or contemplating prison ministry let me encourage you to get And the Criminals With Him.
Replicating the firsthand nature of Will Campbell's original Katallagete collection, twenty new essays pull back the veil on today's prison-industrial complex. The plea throughout this collection is not for some better, more progressive institution to exact justice. Rather, the invitation is to hear from voices of experience how the system functions, listen to what the institution does to those locked in its cells, consider what an execution involves, and, most importantly, contemplate the scandalous call to be in reconciled community with those whom society discards and the system silences. Our story is that there are neither good nor bad people, neither felon nor free world. We are all one.
For introductions to Campbell's life and theology I also highly recommend Crashing the Idols and Writings on Reconciliation and Resistance, the two volumes that functioned as my own introduction to Campbell.