Are We Compromised In Racial Issues…and Otherwise? Kevin H

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18 Responses

  1. DavidP says:

    Short version: Yes. I’ve thought that the saddest part of the US Church (and other places to be clear) isn’t that we’re too Evangelical, too rich, have abuse scandals, have racist problems, have double standards, and on and on.

    All of the rest of the world has that. It doesn’t take much to see the double standards and hatred in the world – heck, the comments about seeing evil and saying nothing could apply to everyone from conservative Boeing execs to “Squad” voters who ignore brazen anti-Jewish bigotry.

    It’s that we’re not always that different from the world’s ways.

    We’re pragmatic. Prone to stick to people who agree with us (guilty!). Ready to fight “THEM.” Easily flattered and manipulated by those with influence. Slow to discern. Fast to ignore the needy, and faster to panic about the thing we’re told is important Right. Now.

    Maybe we don’t need one more book about nationalism. Maybe we need a few more reminders of Jesus’s self-sacrifice and self-emptying. I know it’s not that easy. The pull of The World is far more strong that we realize. But whatever we’re doing now (both the Evangelicals and the famous critics thereof) doesn’t seem to be effective.

  2. Michael says:


    We need more emphasis on Jesus…period.

  3. Muff Potter says:

    Racism is the new charge of witchcraft.
    And as in days of old with charges of witchcraft, if you (generic you) get charged with racism in this present day, you’re done.

  4. Linn says:

    I don’t know how many in my church actually support Mr T, but I do know that they tend to dismiss him as misguided, not as bad as all that, better than any “godless” Democrat…and then the racism creeps in (and I do believe that Mr. T is a racist)-all those black criminals, those scary people coming over the border, all the good jobs go to the Indian foreigners ((I’m in Silicon Valley). I know we all have some prejudicial tendencies, but when they interfere with important matters like the election of a president, I worry. I’m not that excited about the other guy, but at least he hasn’t declared that he will be a “dictator for a day.” (and I’m not opposed to the Dems coming up with a better candidate, either).

  5. bob1 says:

    For me, biographical accounts are most potent to help me see racism in the church.

    Philip Yancey’s “Where the Light Fell” and Esau McCauley’s “Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope” have been two that have influenced me to the “max.”

  6. bob1 says:

    I should add that each of these books comes at the issue from a totally different perspective.

    Philip was raised in a white racist church in the South. After he realized his church lied to him
    about race, he quit the church and came back and has had an influential career writing about
    difficult questions most of us have had about God at some point. His journey is fascinating.

    McCauley is also from the South and he shares his experiences with racism. He’s also a biblical exegete
    who’s studied under Tom Wright. A fantastic read.

  7. Michael says:

    There is nothing I like more here than to see people talking about the books they have read that helped them form their thinking.

    Real learning is still tied to reading well.

  8. Kevin H says:

    The next book I started reading after finishing Tisby’s book was The 50 Greatest Players in Phillies History.

    Now I’m really reading well. ūüôā

  9. Duane Arnold says:

    ‚ÄúWe must face the sad fact that at eleven o’clock on Sunday morning when we stand to sing ‘In Christ there is no East or West,’ we stand in the most segregated hour of America.‚ÄĚ

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Still true more than half a century later…

  10. Someone Else says:

    Kevin et al,
    Forgive the pedantic TLDR

    Does the author give any specific anecdotes post-1968 from his experience of compromises by White folks in general – like a bill or a local initiative – that failed to extend mercy and grace and inarguably makes white folks culpable at large? To me that seems to what you are saying the book points at.

    The way I read Luke 10, the Good Samaritan practiced the policy of not letting his right hand know what his left hand was doing, was not abrasive toward the jew’s perpetrators, and still Jesus said to the expert in the law “Go and do likewise”. Likewise, imo, Gen X was the first generation raised by a majority of parents who made a general conscious effort to confront their own racist biases, speaking from my own personal experience. It makes me wonder if, to people of color, the White person is a cultural representative, like a living archetype, of what Meic Pearse termed a “cultural and economic juggernaut” compromising everything it touches without comprehending the why or what. Having moved to Idaho to escape California’s crime and compromised infrastructure, it makes me think more about what Jesus/Daniel said would be people going to and fro in the last days, certainly more apparent and growing more frantic with every passing year. Since most families who were enslaved at some point have long memories, and other families who immigrated here are here because of their compromised culture we pillaged at some point (ergo Unted Fruit Company) perhaps the memories are, for lack of a better term, projected onto those who represent the reason they are here, or were why they or their ancestors were subjugated. So could it be that any progress is always tinted with dark glasses, so to speak, because the changes in America are so near in history?

  11. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Tisby’s on my to get to reading list but I’ve spent more time reading Charles W Mills lately. Both The Racial Contract and Black Rights, White Wrongs were worthwhile reading. Mills’ observations on the overlooked white supremacist defaults that influenced Rawlsian contract theory and white liberal/progressive thought was interesting to read about. The irony Mills pointed out is that it would be easier to make a case for reparations based on the ideas of Robert Nozick than the ideas of John Rawls despite the hegemonic prevalence of Rawlsian contract theory among center and left leaning thought.

    Mills contends that the white supremacist convictions of Hegel, Kant and Hume have to be directly addressed but that the tradition of liberalism is still able to be salvaged. He also contended, interestingly, that the Holocaust seems less aberrant a European policy if it is seen as Europeans doing to themselves what they had spent generations doing to people in Africa, America and Asia.

    I’m working through a book by Matt Jantzen on the crisis of the doctrine of providence in Western Christendom and he contends the proverbial elephant in the room is the extent to which white Europeans used providence as the blank check for underwriting colonial/imperial expansion. It’s not that BIPOC groups can’t use such an idea, it’s that theologians can and should confront how these ideas were used. The slipperiest element is paradoxically that attempts to moderate revolutionary variants of providence were championed by defenders of slavery–i.e. racists will use radical and moderate versions of the doctrine of providence depending on which goalposts need to get moved for the policy goals at hand.

    The question of how white supremacist music education is in North American programs has been a somewhat hot topic in the last few years since Philip Ewell contended that the dominance of Schenkerian thought in US music education reflects a white supremacist default. I don’t exactly disagree but my lament is that competing etiological narratives do not give us a potential path forward.

    Sounds like I’ll be more likely to agree with Tisby than Kendi or Coates. Coates and Kendi have tended to reduce things to confrontational dog whistles and shibboleths around reparations. Mills, by contrast, is great (though challenging to read) because he goes straight to the white supremacist ideas directly expressed by philosophers like Kant, Hegel, Hume, Locke and others to point out that the problem of white supremacist paternalism is cooked into even the most liberal forms of white liberalism but that this can be remedied if we collectively confront that historical reality.

    I don’t think Mills was any kind of Christian but he had a zinger pointing out that for Augustine even the most savage of savages was still an image-bearer of God able to receive salvation through Christ whereas for scientific racism (Hume and others) the science declared blacks and Native Americans were at the bottom of the intellectual barrel. The conundrum among philosophers is that scapegoating racism to religious primitives is paradoxically partaking of the most condescending versions of scientific racism that evolved in the 18th and 19th through early 20th centuries.

    I concede most readers of Phoenix Preacher probably won’t want to crack open Charles W Mills books (but he’s possibly faster reading than C L R James ) but he is worth reading. I don’t always agree with Adolph Reed Jr. but he’s been worth reading, too.

  12. The New Victor says:

    What is racism other than “othering?” I’d fail the brown paper bag test of the early 20th century unless I stayed out of the sun, like I did when I lived in Oregon. I’m one generation Off of The Rez. My kids are Mexican with Filipino on mom’s side. Our school district is over 95% BIPOC with less “token” white kids than black. However, my kids seem to get along between ethnic groups, despite the “Chinito” slur in the Mexican community. Our son definitely looks part Filipino and the Viet community comments about him and also our daughter being part Asian which they are.

    I hope that in at least another generation we can move past this nonsense, while also not forgetting the excrebale past. However, it also bugs me that there is so much focus on white racism while at the same time ignoring it in other communities: Latin America (watch novellas and it’s obvious), Indians with darker skin tone and bigotry towards northern Indians who look more “Asian” and so on…

    I did my part to contribute to the miscenegation of the “races.” Maybe in 50 years after I’m gone this will be less of an issue.

  13. Muff Potter says:

    Duane Arnold wrote @ 10:45 am,
    “Still true more than half a century later‚Ķ”

    What’s also true all this time later, is that black people have no desire to rub elbows with a bunch of white folks on Sunday morning. They (african american church culture) have their own way of doing things and prefer that it not be interfered with. It’s an inconvenient truth that is ignored by both white liberals and white conservatives.

  14. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    The New Victor, I definitely encountered anti-Mexican biases among my Native American relatives over the years. There’s also animosity between tribes. As Dad used to say there’s never been a pan-Indian (American Indian) movement that took shape. That may have changed a bit in the last forty years or so but even in Washington state I can think of tribes that basically don’t get along.

    I don’t “read” as any level of Native American but Dad was an enrolled member of a tribe. If the EPA says the land is old growth forest you still can’t do anything with it, though. The BIA’s in loco parentis role has been resented for a long, long time but I probably don’t even need to provide details that would rabbit trail things.

  15. Someone Else says:

    “the Holocaust seems less aberrant a European policy if it is seen as Europeans doing to themselves what they had spent generations doing to people in Africa, America and Asia.” Now that’s poetic, isn’t it? Are they saying Der Judes had something to do with European Colonialism? Interesting.

    On Jentzen … are you saying I am using a moderate version? Am I racist, ignorant, or simply and possibly correct? Is it possible to be all three and not necessarily righteous but right? Perhaps its just wrong. If that’s not what you are saying then I have had too much Sangria…

    I can definitely see the point about music education. Recently a refugee student who is in the Special Education program (without proper evaluation btw, no proper IQ test translation or cultural equivalent or program descriptions to serve her specific needs – oh wait that’s illegal – wha…???) introduced me to her Near East music favorites – so incredible on the rhythm analysis alone 7:5:3 switches to 5:4, it seems like its all over the place but somehow lands on the 1 consistently. It is a total mindbender trying to keep up with on the kit. It was nothing my guitar teacher ever introduced us to. The tonality is just gorgeous. analogous to me like:

    I will totally give Mills a go, as well as refresh my Hegel… I always liked the Hegelian dialectic… freaks people out when I say that…

    All that said, understanding Hegel, Kant and Hume in the temporal framework and their life setting might allow for some forgiveness of their ignorance/arrogance, as it is percieved. That requires we imagine ourselves somehow in the same circumstances. I believe that is biblical, isn’t it? Hume was so… boring

  16. Kevin H says:

    Someone Else,

    “Does the author give any specific anecdotes post-1968 from his experience of compromises by White folks in general ‚Äď like a bill or a local initiative ‚Äď that failed to extend mercy and grace and inarguably makes white folks culpable at large? To me that seems to what you are saying the book points at.”

    Tisby describes how racism today many times is not nearly as overt as it has been in our country’s history, and sometimes how it takes a little thought and reflection, at least for the white man, to see it. He gives plenty of thoughtful and reasonable examples to support his assertion. He does not in any way say that these things make “white folks culpable at large”, but rather argues that a significant amount of white people today, including in the church, actively or passively avoid seeing the racism that still exists today, thus making themselves complicit with it.

  17. Kevin H says:

    Muff Potter,

    “What‚Äôs also true all this time later, is that black people have no desire to rub elbows with a bunch of white folks on Sunday morning. They (african american church culture) have their own way of doing things and prefer that it not be interfered with. ”

    While there’s likely some truth to your statement, the way it is stated that seemingly implicates black people as a whole of having such an outlook or that it is the driving reason why Sunday morning is still so segregated is callous and overstated.

  18. Someone Else says:

    Then I have to wonder is it racism or making judgement calls based on the available information?

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