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Reviewed by Grace Masso for Readers' Favorite
The Red Stain of Cain by Chris Steed begins with disturbing words: “The red stain of Cain, the restless wanderer, haunts the world.” When Cain killed his brother, he desecrated the sacred value of his personhood. As the story progresses, the author demonstrates how the violence of Cain becomes a dominant crisis in perpetuity, one that we are still confronted with today. With strong biblical foundations, the author explores the theme of the “Other,” and how that “Other” is perceived in the context of relationships and power. Constantly returning to the symbolism of Jesus’ death, the author provides a new interpretation of power, one opposed to its deviant forms as witnessed in contemporary society and religious history. While this book reflects on the genealogy of violence and its religious and social implications, it also makes an impactful statement and a recommendation for a Theology of Power.
In a world where people kill in the name of God, who made every life sacred, the call to rethink the dignity and sacredness of our personhood and the dynamics of power becomes not only an important but genuinely urgent concern. Chris Steed states in unequivocal terms that within Christianity what is needed is a theology of power. The act of Jesus paying the price for our sins should lead readers to a new understanding of power, its salvific purpose, and the role it plays in creating a society where a new name is given to it: service. The Red Stain of Cain has strong theological and philosophical underpinnings and it is a book that fans of the Israeli philosopher Martin Buber will adore. The author develops an approach to living with, and for, others that transcends the human need to silence enemies, and those who are different, through violence. The Red Stain of Cain is a thought-provoking book with eye-opening revelations, one that challenges readers to face the contradictions within the context of religious violence and to understand the tolerance that is inherent in Christian doctrine.