“Risking Grace”  
Evangelicalism is a sector of Protestant Christianity that emphasizes salvation through an unwavering faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement. This sector has also had a past of disapproval towards the gay community, as per what they believe about the Bible’s teachings.

Author Dave Jackson, a fairly conservative Evangelical, shared this disapproval – that is, until he learned that his own daughter is gay. “Perhaps you,” he writes, “like I, have wondered why God gave us loved ones who are gay. Life would be so much simpler if they were straight. But maybe it’s not about us, but about our loved ones and the multitude of gay people who have been confused and hurt by the church.”

This quote from his 2016 book “Risking Grace: Loving our Gay Family & Friends Like Jesus” embodies Mr. Jackson’s and his wife Neta’s tumultuous journey towards acceptance of gay people into the Evangelical church and into their lives. The Jacksons come from deeply religious backgrounds, and both have experience working as editors and writers for several Evangelical publishers.

In the introduction to “Risking Grace,” Mr. Jackson describes the two vastly different yet equally rigid types of Scripture-readers: “traditionalists,” or those who do not consider the Bible as open to interpretation, and “liberals,” or those who simply dismiss passages they do not agree with. Neither type is interested in reading passages from another perspective.

While Mr. Jackson always understood that the Bible and its messages were not necessarily as simple as they seemed, he said he never truly took the time to explore these messages until his daughter came out to him nearly 16 years ago.

He writes, “…we knew reexamining a long-held interpretation was not the same as questioning the Source anymore now than when the church reexamined the widespread interpretation that the Bible taught the earth was the center of the universe or justified slavery.”

Mr. Jackson says his transformation was inspired by Jesus, who welcomed marginalized people with open arms and helped them in their fight for equality and acceptance.

Though Mr. Jackson argues that the Evangelical church’s views and treatment towards gay people has gone “tragically awry,” he says he hopes “Risking Grace” will educate and teach parents in similar situations the importance of loving their children, regardless of sexual orientation.

Since graduating from Wheaton College, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson now reside in Evanston. “Risking Grace,” published in May of this year, is available at amazon.com or the Jacksons’ website, daveneta.com. As written on the book’s cover, part of the profits will go to help homeless and abused LGBTQ youth.

“Draining Chicago”

The Early City and the North Area,” is the second book in Richard Lanyon’s four-book series about the development and construction of Chicago’s complex system of waterways and tunnels that manage sewage and storm water.

In 1900, engineers reversed the flow of the Chicago River, thereby sending water contaminated with raw sewage, bacteria, and disease downstream into the Mississippi River rather than into Lake Michigan.

Evanston, Wilmette and the Sanitary District of Chicago worked together on this project, which included not only the reversal of the river but improving the North Branch of the river and digging the North Shore Channel.

In “The Complicated, Ever-Changing, and Surprising Story of Draining Chicago,” Lake Claremont Press, which publishes the series, describes what happened next: “But population would eventually zoom beyond expectations, and sewage and industrial waste would overwhelm the natural rivers and constructed canals. It was time to implement new treatment technology, and build a network of collecting sewers and a treatment plant. In time, even those proved insufficient as population continued to grow and spread through the suburbs. Then post-WWII growth and environmental awareness brought its own demands to the existing infrastructure. As the urban landscape was paved over, flooding became the new and growing problem. The value of floodplains wasn’t known until they were gone, and now the housing on former floodplains and marshes needed to be relieved of inundation. Deep tunnels and surface reservoirs became integral to the drainage responsibilities of the district.”

Mr. Lanyon, an Evanston resident, retired in 2010 as Executive Director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago after a 48-year career there.

 “Draining Chicago,” published in May, follows “Building the Canal to Save Chicago,” which won the 2013 Abel Wolman Award for Best New Book in Public Works History (American Public Works Association, Chicago Metro Chapter).