the book

from the introduction

"I am the rest between two notes, 

which are somehow always in discord 

because death’s note wants to climb over – 

but in the dark interval, reconciled, 

They stay here trembling.

And the song goes on, beautiful."

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from Book of Hours (translated by Robert Bly)

Why is there is a disconnection between social and religious progressivism? It is partly because many people treat faith and religion as a private matter. It is also because the religious left feels silenced by the aggressive, unapologetic way in which the religious right delineates “true” Christians from “false” or un-Christian. And partly, perhaps, it is because religious progressives sense the danger of seeming superior and self-congratulatory in their professions of faith. While often aligned towards the same vision and values, social and religious progressives are, to borrow Rilke’s words, two notes which are somehow always in discord. 

Both social and religious notes are essential if we want to further a progressive agenda that creates equity and compassion, restores the dignity of all people, and ensures the full participation of all Americans in common life, common wealth, and the common good. This book explores the intersections of those seemingly discordant movements ...

This book explores the overlapping space between contemplative action and active contemplation. Along the journey of community transformation, religious sources help us hold both active and passive expressions of life and faith in balance. Community transformation requires active, tireless action as we confront the realities of exploitation, dehumanization, and suffering. Such confrontations can be painful, because they require a level of honesty about humanity’s death-dealing ways ... We are transformed by a mutual loving encounter in two dimensions: active effort and passive receptivity; works of compassionate justice balanced by open accessibility; insistent love tempered by the capacity to be loved in return. I call this “spiritual activism.” 

This book is about reclaiming the dynamic movements of faith in social action. We will explore some principles for spiritual activism that seek transformation in the doing, the waiting, and the rests between discordant notes. 


  1. Activism and Non-Resistance 
  2. Covenant, Conflict, and the Common Good 
  3.  Is Non-Violence the Only Way
  4. Diversity: The Key to Resilience
  5. Dismantling Racism 
  6. Compassion Is an Act of Resistance
  7. Double Justice 
  8. Courage in the Public Square 
  9. Economic Life 
  10. Pity, Compassion, and Power
  11. Isolation, Prayer, and Community Wisdom
  12. Open Faith Communities 
  13. Faith Is a Verb 
  14. The Death of False Hope 
  15. Love: The Connective Current of Life 
  16. Concluding Thoughts 

available now!

praise for The Space Between

Matt Braddock is the real deal — deeply rooted in Christian faith, deeply engaged in the world. His book provides solid theory with a wealth of practical suggestions for deepening personal and congregational engagement on behalf of faith-based activism.

Anthony B. Robinson

author of Transforming Congregational Culture

Putting our faith in action in the world requires grounding in spiritual disciplines. Overcoming evil requires that we not be worn down or co-opted by the darkness around us. Rev. Braddock has written a book I will carry in my back pocket to fuel me for the journey ahead.

Rev. Jen Butler

CEO, Faith in Public Life

In these intensely challenging times for our nation and our world, it is all too easy as spiritual activists to become consumed by the anger, polarization, fear and pain that swirls around us. The urgency of the work of justice wears us down to the bone, and we lose the connection to the transformative power within and among us. The Space Between is a much-needed reminder of the need to re-center ourselves, over and over again, in courageous compassion. Braddock offers practices for expanding our moral imagination, building authentic community and responding to the pain of the world with an open heart and an open spirit.

Sandy Sorensen

Director, Washington Office, United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries


more praise for The Space Between

Steve Sterner says ...

Braddock has written a book that is the embodiment of the message he brings -- an invitation to find faithful ways to engage injustice and encounter the transcendent. It is theologically grounded and practically directed. It should be read by those who struggle with the paradox and possibility of spiritual activism, as well as those who never thought about it. A great book for community study and reflection, it is a manual for the spiritual activism our times so urgently require.

Rev. Dr. Stephen L. Sterner,

former Acting President of the Pacific School of Religion & Executive Minister of Local Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ

Grace Ji-Sun Kim says ...

The healing and restoring of the world happens through the liberating and courageous Spirit of love. The Spirit moves us toward prophetic action, compelling us to mobilize, provoking us to work for justice rather than watching as silent bystanders, and confronting systems that wound our sisters and brothers and violate God’s creation. Matt Braddock adds his voice to a growing chorus of faith leaders who invite us to participate in the Spirit’s patient and persistent love in action. Braddock helps both seasoned and newly-called faith activists go to the places of deep division and traumatic wounds to help us connect to God and one another. The Space Between will help you construct a reflective search for the loving justice of a living God.

Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Religion. She is the author of over a dozen books, most recently, Embracing thke Other and Mother Daughter Speak.

Carolyn Boyd-Clark says ...

Matthew Braddock, modern-day contemplative and activist pastor, disrupts the religious right's hold as the arbitrators of God’s will and divine actions in the world.  He offers a powerful path forward on how we can be effective spiritual activists with left-leaning values, progressive views, and righteous expectations for a just world outcome, thereby transforming our churches, communities, and institutions. Rev. Braddock makes our sacred religious texts come alive in new ways of social activism that transcend fear.

Rev. Dr. Carolyn Boyd-Clark, 

Chair, Committee on Global Actions / Concerns, National Board Of Directors, Church Women United, New York, NY

Lawrence Peers says ...

This book lures us beyond the unnecessary divisions we often create between our activist  lives and our spiritual lives. Even congregations can sometimes segment rather than connect our contemporary social, economic and spiritual challenges. The author guides us on the path of being "spiritual activists" by providing thoughtful thematic reflections, prompts for conversations, and practices for cultivating active contemplation and contemplative action. This is a helpful resource for our time.

Dr. Lawrence Peers,

congregational consultant and seminary professor

Kent Groff says...

In genuine conversation you risk the possibility and the threat of conversion. In The Space Between Matt Braddock invites us to the “rest between two notes that are somehow in discord”—a “neutral zone”—where I can pull back from addiction to my way—to see another’s. Braddock grounds the ideal with real conflicts as he explores these discordant notes: “the overlapping space between contemplative action and active contemplation.” 

Kent Ira Groff, a spiritual companion, retreat leader, and writer poet in Denver, CO, is Founding Mentor of Oasis Ministries in PA. Kent has authored several books including Clergy Table Talk, Writing Tides and Honest to God Prayer: Spirituality as Awareness, Empowerment, Relinquishment and Paradox. Contact

David Smock says ...

The Space Between is both inspiring and motivating. The author’s concept of spiritual activism illuminates many of the challenges we face. It is a superb resource both for individual reflection and for congregational study groups. 

David Smock, Ph.D., M.Div.,

retired as Vice President and 

Director of the Religion and Peacebuilding Program at the U.S. Institute of Peace

John Ahn says ...

Like the ancient Israelite and Judean prophets of 8th and 5th century BCE that remind the community to hear and obey the words of the covenant, to boundary shifting and collapsing systematic and constructive theological voices of yesterday and today, Matthew Braddock combines his erudition and pastoral sensitivity to call for a fresh social and religious activism – spiritual activism. In this well-researched, socio-theologically reflexive book, Braddock advances conversation to active contemplation. The subject matter is original. It explores faith agendas and progressive social movements for both community and individuals. Scholars, pastors, and lay will learn something new. Braddock’s innovative work is highly recommended.

John Ahn, Ph.D.,

Assistant Professor of Hebrew  Bible,

Howard University School of Divinity

Clarence Stone says ...

The Space Between is a book containing big ideas. The Reverend Dr. Matthew Braddock (Pastor Matt to me) has written a timely book about the timeless tension and complementarity between action and spirituality. In covering everything from power to pity, his book offers no easy formula for how to reconcile the pursuit of justice with a spirituality that transcends everyday life. Instead Braddock provides a framework for reflection, a framework enriched by personal experiences as well as by scripture and other religious sources, and most certainly a framework for conversation and group study.

Clarence N. Stone,

Research Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, George Washington University