Unsettling Truths – The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery

by Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah (InterVarsity Press, 2019)
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Unsettling Truths is an award winning book!

Injustice has plagued American society for centuries. And we cannot move toward being a more just nation without understanding the root causes that have shaped our culture and institutions. In this prophetic blend of history, theology, and cultural commentary, Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah reveal the far-reaching, damaging effects of the “Doctrine of Discovery.” In the fifteenth century, official church edicts gave Christian explorers the right to claim territories they “discovered.” This was institutionalized as an implicit national framework that justifies American triumphalism, white supremacy, and ongoing injustices. The result is that the dominant culture idealizes a history of discovery, opportunity, expansion, and equality, while minority communities have been traumatized by colonization, slavery, segregation, and dehumanization. Healing begins when deeply entrenched beliefs are unsettled. Charles and Rah aim to recover a common memory and shared understanding of where we have been and where we are going. As other nations have instituted truth and reconciliation commissions, so do the authors call our nation and churches to a truth-telling that will expose past injustices and open the door to conciliation and true community.

The United States does not teach a history of America, it teaches a mythology. Whether it’s the myth that Christopher Columbus discovered America, Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery or Donald Trump was the only Presidential candidate in 2016 (and 2020) promising to “Make America Great Again”, there are many Unsettling Truths we must look at as a nation if we want to create a common memory.

Weekly Book Study with Mark Charles:
In 2021 Mark live streamed a 14 part book study going through Unsettling Truths. These videos can be viewed on Mark’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel. They are also archived on his IGTV.
Archive of Studies (YouTube):
Chapter: Introduction, One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Conclusion

2022 Monthly Book Study with Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah:
Mark and Soong-Chan are currently hosting a monthly book study of Unsettling Truths on Patreon. To access this study, both monthly live streams as well as past studies, follow this link to Mark’s Patreon site and subscribe to the fourth tier titled “Unsettling Truths”.

Notable Reviews:

  • Publishers Weekly (Starred Review): In this trenchant analysis of the roots of white supremacy in American culture, blogger and preacher Charles (Reflections from the Hogan) and religion professor Rah (The Prophetic Lament) team up to examine the insidious legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, a set of 15th-century legal principles based on Catholic papal decrees.
  • TC Moore – Theological Graffiti: Unsettling Truths isn’t just a book, it’s a prophecy. It is a blazing spotlight focused directly on the darkness that plagues the United States, and in particular white, North American Christians. It calls us out of the darkness of historical ignorance and into the light of moral courage. It calls us out of the darkness of White Supremacy and into the light of antiracism and ethnic conciliation. It calls us out of the darkness of American Empire and into the light of the global body of Christ.
Click here to purchase signed copies of Unsettling Truths.

Highlighted Podcasts:

2022 Unsettling Truths Book Tour:

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2022 Unsettling Truths Book Tour
Unsettling Truths was released in November 2019 but because I was in the middle of my 2020 Independent Campaign for President, and because of the Global COVID Pandemic that began just a few months later, we were not able to have a proper book tour and national promotion. So I have decided to implement my own book tour through the spring, summer and fall of 2022. On July 19 I am departing on a cross country road trip to talk about Unsettling Truths and work to build a Common Memory.

Because this book tour is self-funded, I started a GoFundMe Page: Help me fund my Unsettling Truths Book Tour 2022. This is where I am raising funds to cover the expenses of this tour and it is also the best place to get updates, notifications and current information about my 2022 Unsettling Truths Book Tour. Below is a list of all upcoming events through the end of 2022. More events will be posted as they are confirmed.

Saturday, October 22 @ 4 PM ET
Immanuel United Church of Christ
1905 Edmondson Avenue
Cantonsville, MD

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