Books of the Month

Trouble I’ve Seen – Book of the Month Conversation – Part 4

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:  [ Amazon ]

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 4:
Chapter 4

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

<<<<<< Previous Conversation: Part 3

Chapter 4: Don’t Go With Your Gut


“When racial animosity explodes in our country, as it has in recent years in Ferguson, New York City, Baltimore, and Charleston, we are forced to talk about racism more publicly. When that happens, we find ourselves once again face-to-face with this stark reality: we do not even agree about what is going on, let alone what should be done about it.” (76)

“We need to wrestle with where our opinions have been shaped. Despite the fact that we might think that we came up with our own thoughts and perspectives, all ideas are developed in particular contexts and spaces. We are all socialized in some way, because we have all been part of real human communities. Communities and cultures shape us. These cultures partly shape our values, worldviews, and everyday norms and practices.” (76)

Reflect on the ways in which you have been formed by the communities in which you were raised. 

“For white Americans, however, and anyone who has been part of a dominant culture around the globe, dominant-group socialization is normally not as obvious. Those living as part of a majority, dominant culture are less likely to be conscious of their own socialization. Rather than thinking of their own lives as being shaped by a peculiar context or culture, people who constitute the majority of a society are often unconscious of these realities.” (77-78)

Discuss ways in which you have seen this to be true in your own life, or that of people close to you.

The Shaping of White Cultural Intuition:

  • Slavery
  • The Dred Scott Case
  • Plessy v. Ferguson
  • Civil Rights

To what extent are you familiar with these strands of our history? 
To what extent has your thinking been shaped by them?


“White socialization claimed equality and justice at every stage while also shielding itself from its own oppressive practices and the perspectives of oppressed groups.”  (83)

In what ways might white people continue to live under this legacy today?

“I am suggesting that people on the bottom are better situated to know what is real, and that what they know to be reality is closer to the real thing than the perceptions of those in a dominant social position.” (85)

Do you agree with this assertion? Why or why not?
How does this square with the teachings of Jesus?


“White American Christians in our society must do something seemingly absurd and unnatural, yet very Christian in orientation: they must move decisively toward a counterintuitive solidarity with those on the margins. They must allow the eyes of the violated of the land to lead and guide them, seeking to have renewed minds no longer conformed to the patterns of our world.”  (87)

How do we begin to move forward on this journey?

Discuss the stories that Hart offers of Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King Jr.

How was each of these men transformed over the course of their lives?
What can we learn from their transformation?


“This call to not go with your gut—to move toward an intimate, transformative, and relational solidarity with marginalized and oppressed people—is not easy. It requires learning to see again, from oppressed people’s perception of things, rather than through one’s own lens. However, I believe that Jesus’ own emptying of himself and taking on the form of a slave models for us the way forward (Philippians 2:5-8). We are called to imitate the same Jesus who is alive and still leading his followers alongside the oppressed of our day.”  (96)

What does it look like for us to do these things in our particular context?


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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