Fat Luther, Slim Pickin’s

A Black Catholic Celebration of Faith, Tradition, and Diversity

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Format: Paperback

Publication date: March 25, 2022

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Featured as an Essence magazine “56 New Books We Can’t Wait To Read In 2022.” Awarded a third place by the Association of Catholic Publishers for spirituality and an honorable mention by the Catholic Media Association for inclusion in the Church.

What does musical icon Luther Vandross—and his physical appearance—have to do with appreciating the people and cultures that make up the Catholic Church?

Marcia Lane-McGee and Shannon Wimp Schmidt, hosts of the Plaid Skirts and Basic Black podcast, explain that Christmas celebrations of Black Catholic families are not complete without the annual argument about which version of Luther—fat or skinny—created better music. The light-hearted debate is also about remembering the past and providing hope for the future.

In Fat Luther, Slim Pickin’s, the duo share their faith and reflections on the liturgical year to honor the Black Catholic experience and to help other Catholics understand Black culture. With the humor, vulnerability, honesty, and pop culture references that their podcast is known for, Lane-McGee and Schmidt explore the Church as an important model for how to welcome diversity while maintaining and celebrating culturally distinct traditions and practices.

As our nation continues to confront racism, including within its churches, this ground-breaking book examines the intersection of faith, race, culture, and identity with hopefulness, humor, and joy. Lane-McGee and Schmidt share their experiences as Black women in the Church and invite Catholic women from all walks of life to look with new eyes at the feasts and seasons of the liturgical year through the lens of Black Catholic culture.

The Church is a communion of many cultures, languages, and ethnicities, yet it has been unified for more than two-thousand years. Black Catholics bring unique gifts of culture and history to the Church and the United States that provide an essential perspective on the work for racial justice, a strong framework for addressing the sin of racism, confident guidance for embracing diversity, and a beautiful demonstration of faith infusing even the darkest moments with hope.

In Fat Luther, Slim Pickin’s, you will learn that:

  • You can embrace liturgical celebrations even if they’re a little janky—that is, haphazard and messy—by making do with what you have and focusing on actually doing something and being human rather than doing it perfectly.
  • Soul food epitomizes the genius of Black Americans who can make sustenance even from “slim pickin’s”—the scraps.
  • Ordinary Time offers us a chance to cultivate our “Catholic Shine”—finding beauty in the everyday stuff of life, revealing the mystery of God.
  • As we remember afresh Christ’s suffering on the Cross each Lent we see the parallel to how racism in America can be both history and an ongoing suffering.
  • The laity, especially women, have an important role as the “neck of the Church”—turning the head toward the most urgent needs of our time and working as Christ in the world.

Fat Luther, Slim Pickin’s offers examples of holy people—including Servant of God Sr. Thea Bowman, Venerable Fr. Augustus Tolton, St. John XIII, St. Martin De Porres, and St. Joan of Arc—as companions for the liturgical journey. You will also learn more about Black history and experience, and your own faith, through primers on “one drop” laws, appreciation vs. appropriation, Black hair, the legacy of slavery, code switching, and the three-fifths compromise. Reflection questions are included in each chapter, making this book perfect for individual or group study.

Product Details

Pages: 192

Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5 inches

ISBN: 9781646801312

Imprint: Ave Maria Press

  • “A kick in the pants.”

    “May this book be your kick in the pants to get on with the hard, and holy, work of doing better.”

    From the foreword by Kathryn Whitaker

  • “A mirror to our society.”

    “The authors’ unique take on life holds up a mirror to our society wrestling to bring an end to racism, sexism, exclusion, and injustice.”

    ValLimar Jansen
    Catholic speaker, recording artist, and storyteller

  • “Honest, humble, funny, gracious.”

    “Marcia Lane-McGee and Shannon Wimp Schmidt serve up smart, beautifully written reflections about their faith and heritage as fully Black, fully Catholic women. They are honest, humble, funny, gracious, and sometimes—in their own words—even a little weird. I enjoyed not only their engaging stories but also their important, poignant insights.”

    Gloria Purvis
    Catholic radio and television host, author, commentator, and executive producer of The Gloria Purvis Podcast

  • “A book for all of us.”

    “This is a book for all of us who are a part of the Catholic family and speaks to the beauty and necessity of diversity in our homes and parish communities.”

    Erica Tighe Campbell
    Founder of Be a Heart

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