In 2018, Marcia Lane-McGee and Shannon Wimp Schmidt noticed a lack of Black voices in Catholic media and felt called to add their own. They created a podcast, Plaid Skirts and Basic Black, where they share their love for the Church, culture and pop culture with the world.

In “Fat Luther, Slim Pickins” (Ave Maria Press, digital copy available now, with print pre-order available), Lane-McGee and Wimp Schmidt invite you to pull up a chair as they discuss faith, race and culture in book form. They skillfully weave together black history primers, the Magisterium, lives of the saints, their own stories and reflection questions into a cohesive work that is difficult to put down. It’s the type of book where you could continue the conversation over coffee every morning.

Busy, frazzled moms who are not Pinterest mavens will relate easily to what they call “janky liturgical,” where the days are marked and feasts throughout the liturgical year are celebrated with whatever someone has on hand and whatever skill sets they already possess, giving the Holy Spirit room to work in homes and in hearts.

The book also inspires readers to give the Holy Spirit room to work on the challenges of racial justice facing society today:

“Rooted in the Good News of Jesus Christ, and fortified with a wealth of Catholic Social Teaching, the Church can point a way forward for our nation to find unity in our diversity and bring about the common good. Black Catholics bring a unique gift to this effort. We bring to both our Church and our country the gift of our culture and our history, which offer an essential perspective on the work for racial justice.”

Lane-McGee described how she struggled with feelings of not belonging in her own home (the Church), waiting to be welcomed to the table rather than just being tolerated well enough to not have her chair kicked out.

Wimp Schmidt, who helps lead diversity work, reminds the reader that it’s “best to assume that people have good intentions in order to come to common ground and mutual trust.” The authors truly approach the work of this book believing that their readers — and fellow Catholics — are coming to the table from a place of love and Christian unity. As a result, even when they shine a light on the more difficult realities facing the nation and a people of faith trying to reconcile years of racial injustice, there is a hope that, as Pope St. John Paul II said, “We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.”

Wimp Schmidt shared how her two grandmothers — one white, one black — each brought a fullness of faith and richness of culture to their family, and how “game respects game;” that is, that each of them appreciated the gifts, talents and love the other brought to the table. Indeed, readers learn how the Church itself is enriched by the many ways different cultures express divine truth through examples such as Our Lady of Guadalupe: “Our Lady’s apparition is a divine work of inculturation — that is, the expression of universal truths of our Catholic faith through the unique symbols and customs of an individual culture.”

If Lane-McGee and Wimp Schmidt are correct, the Catholic Church may be what saves America: “As Catholics, we believe that our Church provides the model for how we can live in a diverse, pluralistic America without compromising the values and virtues that advance the common good and uphold the life and dignity of every human person. Our Church embraces every culture and sees the light of Truth in every human community.”

The Holy Spirit is at work in this book. May it work as strongly in hearts.