Books of the Month, Conversations, Volume 9

Trouble I’ve Seen – Book of the Month Conversation – Part 1

[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”1513800000″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”216″]Our Book of the Month for March is…

Trouble I’ve Seen:
Changing the Way the Church Views Racism

Drew G.I. Hart

Paperback: Herald Press, 2016
Buy now:  [ [easyazon_link identifier=”1513800000″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ]

We will be reading through the book this month, and posting discussion questions as we go. We hope you will read along with us, and share your thoughts and questions. (Or, even better, get a group of people at your church to read through the book together!)

Part 1:
Foreword and Chapter 1

Here are some quotes and questions, please use the comments below to share your own thoughts and questions.

Next Conversation: Part 2 >>>>>>

Foreword by Christena Cleveland:

There’s not usually much to discuss in a foreword, but I did want to highlight this quote from Christena Cleveland, and also to recommend her book [easyazon_link identifier=”0830844031″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Disunity in Christ[/easyazon_link], as another superb and related resource:

“As individualistic Westerners, many of us haven’t considered how our attitudes and behaviors are significantly shaped by our social environment.”(9)


Chapter 1: When You “Fit The Description”

Key Idea:
“[Most] Christians tend to operate out of a naive and thin understanding of racism, which doesn’t factor in the depth and width of our racialized and hierarchical society.”  (27)
“I felt a bit out of place while stopping in some all-white small towns across the country while we traveled.” (13)

Have there been times and places when you have felt out of place? When? And why do you think you felt out-of-place?

“White society often deploys static stereotypes and then throws a single blanket over our diverse African American community, denying the beauty and uniqueness of each of us.” (15-16)

Does this observation ring true? Can you think of a time when you did this or noticed someone doing this?

Hart lists a number of prominent cases of unjustified violence against black individuals (16-18), and then says:
“Hundreds of people have lost their lives, either through intentional malice or because their lives were not deemed valuable enough to ensure their protection within our white-controlled society.” (19).

To what extent have we lamented these injustices?
Are we complicit? Why or Why not?

Racialized society can be a stumbling block for blacks as well as whites:
“Few black Christians today have acknowledged how they regularly give their full allegiance to the racialized status quo that slowly destroys us.” (19)

“Churches have often been the least helpful place to discuss racism and our white-dominated society.” (20)

True or False?  Why?

Hart asks his own series of pointed questions on the bottom on page 20:

  • So what are Christians who participate in dominant society to do when their racial intuitions and racialized experiences contradict the experiences and concerns of historically oppressed groups?
  • Are Christians in dominant culture prepared to listen to groups of people who have seen trouble, so much trouble?
  • Is the church a place where we can talk about the trouble we’ve seen?
  • Is the church a place not only where we’ll be truly heard and understood but also where we will become a transformed community?
  • Will the church take on the form of Christ in our racialized society?

“[The] common white Christian plea to just ‘see people as people’ is undermined by the highly racialized life of the average white person.” (21)

Hart offers a history of “white silence” (21-22).

How do we begin to lament and repent of this?

Blacks are usually deeply familiar with white history and culture, because they have been taught it since a very young age.  Whites, on the other hand, have to work hard to familiarize themselves with black history and culture. (25)

“Relational, social, and geographic proximity across the racial divide does not necessarily result in the new humanity to which we are called in Christ.”  (27)


Central Purpose of the book:
“This book will instead guide us through the challenges of racism for the church by confronting Christian frameworks for how racism operates and how it affects our lives.” (28)

What other questions did you have
about the foreword and Chapter 1? 

Share them in the Comments below…

C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at:

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Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith

"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church."
-Karen Swallow Prior

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