Books of the Month, Volume 9

Trouble I’ve Seen – Book of the Month Conversation – Part 7

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 7:
Chapter 7

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

<<<<<< Previous Conversation: Part 6

Chapter 7: The Lure of Status and Respect


However, I wonder if some of the adults in the black community, as well as the broader American society, were being as honest and transparent about their own desires and pursuits as The LOX were, given the actual choices many people make. The American way is, at root, about the pursuit of happiness by chasing after money, power, and respect. (132)

In what ways is your life shaped by the pursuit of money, power and respect?  What about the life of your church community? 

Those with power should not make linguistic and cultural differences into moral judgments, diminishing the creativity of people who have survived their oppression. Saying “ain’t” instead of “is not,” for example, has nothing to do with morality and ethics; supposedly “proper” speech is simply a manifestation of the power of the dominant group that universalizes its norms. (136)

What do you do when another people group with proven military strength dominates you? What do you do when its cultural hegemony erodes one’s own culture and values? What do you do when you are being drawn into the very systems and societal patterns that are also taxing, exploiting, humiliating, and executing you on a regular basis? The uncritical or despair-filled stance is to adopt an “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality.  (139)

Discuss Hart’s questions in the second of these quotes. 

Very rarely do we take time in the church to consider how our minds have been colonized by the current social order. Minorities are not absolved of this challenge. On one hand, oppressed communities do often perceive and work at things in creative and subversive ways—ways that open them up to see with greater clarity the patterns that shape everyday life. On the other hand, a sense of societal neglect and a desire for dominant cultural participation can lead the same people to become uncritical students of status quo mind-sets.  (140)

Reflect on and discuss the ways that your mind (and that of your church) have been “colonized by the current social order.”

Nonconformist ways of exploring the world mean living on the underside of our social order in communities of mutuality, love, and endurance. Nonconformity means living in solidarity with the lowly: caring for the poor, loving enemies, renouncing retaliation, and overcoming evil forces by participating in God’s goodness (Romans 12:9-21).  (141)

In what what does the life of your church reflect the sort of nonconformity described here?  In what ways are you resistant to this sort of nonconfformity?

“Racial uplift” attained through playing by the rules of dominant society’s patterns is not the new thing God is doing in Jesus Christ. Though American money, power, and respect are very enticing, full participation in dominant culture is also oppressive, perverse, and destructive.  (141)

Have you seen or experienced cross-racial work driven by “racial uplift”?  What were the fruits of this approach?


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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