Archives For Diversity

 

Willie Jennings

A friend of mine recently posted this NY Times article about the lack of diversity in philosophy on his Facebook wall, and speculated that its argument might also apply to theology. 

 
When you read theology, how many of the theologians are white men?

As a means to start diversifying our theological reading, here are 10 important books by non-white theologians. These books will undoubtedly open the gates to a host of works by other authors.

 

Willie Jennings
The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race

Listen to a talk that Jennings gave
at the Slow Church Conference in 2014.

 

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We Need Diverse Books!

January 15, 2016 — Leave a comment

 

WNDB_ButtonAfter Matt de la Peña received the Newbery Medal this week for his book Last Stop on Market Street,  I was reminded of his work in promoting diversity in publishing.

De la Peña is on the advisory committee for We Need Diverse Books, a non-profit “dedicated to highlighting the best of diverse literature for children and teens and to heightening awareness through continued education.”

Here at the ERB, we value the practice of reading diversely and strive to recommend books that are written by diverse authors and that promote understanding of the experiences of diverse people.

Novelist John Green on why we need diverse books:




Browse the WNDB YouTube channel

 

HOW CAN I HELP?

Ever since the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement began, the group has had overwhelming support and positive reception. Once we started our initial campaign in late April and early May, right away we had people asking how they could help and offering to volunteer time, resources, and more. It’s been incredibly heartening. WNDB is currently working hard on a volunteer program for all interested parties. In the meantime, here are a few ways that everyone can help promote diversity in children’s literature!
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The Beauty and Necessity of Diversity

A Feature Review of

Lisa Washington Lamb
Blessed and Beautiful: Multiethnic Churches and the Preaching that Sustains Them
Paperback: Cascade Books, 2014

Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Dorothy Littell Greco

 
 

Given our nation’s current trend toward polarization, author and pastor Lisa Washington Lamb’s new book Blessed and Beautiful: Multiethnic Churches and the Preaching that Sustains Them asks one of the most salient questions of the day; What does it take to create and maintain healthy, multiethnic churches?

 

She writes, “Ethnic-specific churches have historically been strong settings for transmitting and preserving values and traditions, especially for marginalized minority communities. Are multiethnic churches able to do the same?” (1)

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Diversity as Missio Dei

A Feature Review of

Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, White, Who’s more Precious in God’s Sight?: A call for diversity in Christian missions and ministry

Leroy Barber

Hardback: Jericho Books, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by James Matichuk
 
Leroy Barber is my friend and mentor. I trust his voice when it comes to urban ministry and community. So when I saw that his new book was out, Red Brown Yellow Black White Who’s more Precious in God’s Sight?: A call for diversity in Christian missions and ministry, I was eager to read it. I knew it would be a game changer.
 
But it was much more than that. Red Brown Yellow Black White (RBYBW) is a summons for those of us who ‘say’ we care about reconciliation and justice to quit playing a it; it calls us to get on with working for real change in how we minister across the racial divide. In these pages, Barber opens up about his sometimes painful journey in the urban ministry world, how discrimination from fellow leaders and boards, locked him and fellow minorities out of key leadership positions. Because Barber is such a great relational leader, he sets his story alongside friends and co-conspirators.

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The Power of AllMaking Space for a Multiplicity of Voices.

A Feature Review of

The Power of All: Building a Multivoiced Church

Sian and Stuart Murray Williams

Paperback:  Herald Press, 2012.
Buy now:   [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Hilary J. Scarsella

Reading this book as a life-long Anabaptist who hears about the importance of making space for all voices in the church practically every Sunday (and often again on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…), I expected to be a bit bored reading Sian and Stuart Murray Williams book The Power of All: Building a Multivoiced Church. Much to my surprise, I found myself hooked.

Sian and Stuart Murray Williams bring a wealth of wisdom and experience to their first coauthored book. Sian comes as a minister, a teacher, and a spiritual director; Stuart as a church planter, a teacher, and a writer. Together, they cast an inspiring vision for what church can look like, feel like, and be like when it allows itself to be shaped by all of its members.

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“The Beloved Community
of Conversion and Discipleship”

A Review of
Welcoming Justice:
God’s Movement Toward Beloved Community
.
by Charles Marsh and John Perkins.

Reviewed by Thomas T. Turner II.

[ Read an excerpt of this book here ]


Welcoming Justice:
God’s Movement Toward Beloved Community
.
by Charles Marsh and John Perkins.

Paperback: IVP Books,  2009.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Charles Marsh / John Perkins - WELCOMING JUSTICEWatching segments of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech , I realized that the things I saw there were black and white — literally and figuratively speaking.  The film, now pushing towards fifty years, is grainy and showing too little or too much contrast, a nostalgic look back to a time that wasn’t really that long ago in the history of things.  The American people was black and white as well, and the Civil Rights movement, in its glorious triumph, pushed forth some of the most drastic social changes in the history of America in just a few years full of climactic victories.  The battles were won, yet the war wasn’t over for many in the Civil Rights movement who saw the vision of the movement as a push not for racial equality but something far greater and more whole: the beloved community of all.  Charles Marsh and John Perkins share in their book Welcoming Justice the memories and stories of the ongoing civil rights struggle and illustrate how the movement toward beloved community should be the goal of those who follow the way of Christ.

The civil rights movement, at the height of its success, divorced itself from the church.  In saying Dr. Martin Luther King’s name, we too often forget that  that he was a reverend as well.  The civil rights movement started as a Christian social justice movement, and, in a lesson just as timely today, it was co-opted by powers within the movement that cut out the spiritual foundation of social justice. Marsh writes, “without its unifying spiritual vision, the movement’s goal was no longer to identify particular social and economic ills that could be improved upon through political organizing and social reform” (25).

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God’s Artisans of Reconciliation

A Review of
COMING TOGETHER IN THE 21st CENTURY:
The Bible’s Message in an Age of Diversity.

by Curtiss DeYoung.

Reviewed by Bob Cornwall.

This review originally appeared on Bob’s blog:
http://pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com/
It is reprinted here with the reviewer’s permission.


COMING TOGETHER IN THE 21st CENTURY:
The Bible’s Message in an Age of Diversity.

by Curtiss DeYoung.

Paperback: Judson Press, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Curtiss DeYoung - Coming TogetherYou undoubtedly know the old adage: “11:00 on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week.”  Diversity is something Christians talk a lot about, and yet we seem to find it difficult to cross the ethnic, social, gender, racial, color, economic boundaries.  Often we seem oblivious to the obstacles we place before people seeking to come into the community of faith.  One question might be why this is the case, and another concerns what might be done.  Curtiss Paul DeYoung,  a White male from the United States of America teaching at an evangelical university in Minnesota, seeks to engage these questions by offering the church a biblical theology of diversity.

Coming Together in the 21st Century first appeared in 1995, but much has occurred in the past fifteen years, and thus a newly revised edition has been released.  Since I’ve not read the original, I’m not always sure what is new and what remains of the original – though there are chapters, such as the roundtable featuring Brenda Salter McNeil, Richard Twiss, Jean Zaru, and Allan Aubrey Boesek, that has been added to this edition.

What is important to note is that this is a biblical theology of diversity that emerges from an evangelical setting.  This is seen in part with assumptions of Pauline authorship of Ephesians and the Pastorals.  That said, this is anything but a traditional reading of scripture.  And while not standing at the center of the conversation, DeYoung does broach the issue of inclusion of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered.  The very fact that he, as an evangelical, is willing to raise the issue is a good sign that the conversation about diversity is broadening, and difficult questions that we’ve tried to evade are now on the table.  The same is true of the brief, but important, conversation about disability.

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A Brief Review of

 

Introverts in the Church:
Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture.
Adam McHugh.

Paperback: IVP Books, 2009.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

 

Adam McHugh has tackled a little considered question in his new book Introverts in the Church: how can introverts exist in church cultures where they are often marginalized?  As an introvert myself, albeit one feels a deep need to live life in community, I was intrigued by the idea of McHugh’s book.    Introverts in the Church is a powerful reminder of the diversity of personalities with which God has gifted us.  McHugh, an introvert himself, longs for the healing of introverts from the scars of being marginalized in church cultures that tend to favor extroverts.  One of the book’s finest chapters is McHugh’s examination of how the church tends toward extroversion, and even in some cases Christian thinkers have painted introversion as a sin (One that he quotes says: “The extrovert God of John 3:16 does not beget an introvert people.  There is a terrible tendency to make the gospel serve us, to use it as a protection against the realities of life as though Christ died to preserve the status quo” 29).  McHugh – although he clearly recognizes community as a “given” – is frank about his own struggles with community, struggles that I imagine many of us introverts have faced.   He offers much valuable advice grounded in his own experiences about how introverts can become more connected in their church communities, and also names specific areas that will be of challenge to introverts. The latter half of the book focuses on introverts in church leadership and McHugh makes a strong case that introverts offer a balanced perspective on faithfulness in the way of Jesus that is needed in many church communities.  This is an excellent book that is destined to be the primary work on introversion in the church for many years to come.  McHugh concludes this book with this well-crafted piece of wisdom that should be taken to heart by all in the church, and especially those of us who are introverts:

 

In order to find our place in the church we must make two movements.  We go into the desert, into the depths and riches of solitude, to listen for the whispers of God who created us as introverts and to discover the gifts we have been given.  Through Christ we die to false identities and put away inauthentic behaviors.  We honor the rhythms and practice the disciplines that give us life, energy and joy.  …   The inward movement is not the end of the journey, though we will come back to it again and again.  The other movement is toward others, toward community.  We are not ultimately called to a life of self-fulfillment and comfort but to a life of love.  We seek to love God and our neighbor as ourselves, knowing that genuine love comes out of who we are in Christ.  We are to pass on the gifts we have been given.  Sometimes we will use our words and other times we will model prayerful silence, reflective rest and compassionate listening.  As we make this movement into community, we will find that it’s not merely about us finding a place for ourselves, but it’s about God showing us where we belong and the gifts we are to others.

 



 

A Brief Review of

The Diversity Culture: Creating Conversations of Faith with Buddhist Baristas, Agnostic Students, Aging Hippies, Political Activists, and Everyone in Between.
Matthew Raley.

Paperback: Kregel, 2009.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed By Chris Smith.

M. Raley - The Diversity Culture

As an active member of a church community that values the practice of conversation, I was intrigued by the idea of the new book The Diversity Culture: Creating Conversations of Faith with Buddhist Baristas, Agnostic Students, Aging Hippies, Political Activists, and Everyone in Between by Matthew Raley.   Although The Diversity Culture was written for a primary audience of politically and theological conservative evangelicals and thus the language Raley uses is not the same sort of theological language I would have used in addressing similar topics, its message of the importance of conversation in bearing witness to the Gospel is an essential one.  Granted I am perhaps more comfortable in the “diversity culture” – urban, antiwar, environmentalist, pro-gay marriage, etc – that Raley describes than I am in his audience amidst the evangelical sub-culture.  Ultimately, Raley’s message is one of peacemaking, reminding us that God loves and seeks reconciliation with all people, and as followers of Jesus, we must enter into conversations with people who are different from us, even those who we might perceive as enemies.  This is a message, I believe, of the greatest importance.  I hope that Raley’s work will find people in the midst of his evangelical audience that are willing to take it to heart.

 

A Brief Review of
The Next Evangelicalism:
Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity

Soong-Chan Rah.

Paperback: IVP Books, 2009.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

 Soong-Chan Rah’s recent book THE NEXT EVANGELICALISM: FREEING THE CHURCH FROM WESTERN CULTURAL CAPTIVITY is an insightful and challenging book.  What the title does not convey (thanks, undoubtedly to an editorial decision) but what Rah emphasizes throughout the book is that by “Western cultural captivity” he means “WHITE Western cultural captivity.” While noting that the demographics of the Church are rapidly shifting away from the North American orientation of the past and toward “a southern and eastern hemisphere-centered Christianity” (12), and that even the Church in North America is rapidly becoming more diverse, Rah also observes that the leadership of American evangelicalism is still almost completely white and male. Thus, Rah writes seeking “reconciliation and renewal” among God’s people.  Overall there are many powers that Rah wrestles with here that other authors — including myself at times — have unmasked (individualism, consumerism, imperialism, etc), but the most convicting of his points is the prevaling whiteness that is driving Christianity in North America.  This point is driven home most poignantly in his chapter on “The Emergent Church’s Captivity to White, Western Culture.”  Here he observes that, generally speaking, the leadership of the Emerging Church is still largely white and largely male.  He observes, “Dialoguing on race for most white emergents, becomes a luxury, not a necessity, as it is for many people of color” (119).  Rah’s chapter critiquing mega-churches and the church growth movement in general is excellent and is well-worth the consideration and reflection of the Church.  Rah’s work is disturbing in that it sheds light on the multitude of ways that churches in North America have been held captive, ultimately calls us — in the book’s Conclusion — to confession and repentance.  THE NEXT EVANGELICALISM would be a perfect companion to J. Kameron Carter’s recent epic theological work RACE: A THEOLOGICAL ACCOUNT, elaborating in a more accessible fashion, on the theological history of racialism and racism that Carter has so compelling set forth in his work.  Both authors share a vision of a future Church that is necessarily more diverse.  In Carter’s words, they agree that:

[A]s a twenty-first-century discourse, Christian theology must take its bearings from the Christian theological languages and practices that arise from the lived Christian worlds of dark peoples in modernity and how such peoples reclaimed (and in their own ways salvaged) the language of Christianity, and thus Christian theology, from being a discourse of death – their death (RACE, 378).

Despite the many conflictions of my own theology and praxis, I believe that Carter and Rah are right, that North American churches are held hostage by their Westernness and whiteness and need to come to confession and repentance.  Jesus often proclaimed that he had come to set us free (cf Luke 4:16-21, etc.), but in order to be free in our twenty-first century North American context, we need first to recognize and repent of the unjust institutions to which we have been enslaved.  There are few books that take on this brutal and yet essential task with the clarity and the compassion with which Soong-Chan Rah has crafted THE NEXT EVANGELICALS.  I highly recommend it, for those who have the courage to face the mammoth cultural manifestations of our sinful state.