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!)
Here are some quotes and questions, please use the comments below to share your own thoughts and questions.
Chapter 8: Renouncing Every Hierarchy
The story of white America is inextricably bound to the continual breaking of treaties and covenants with the Native American people and the near genocide that was executed. (144)
Too many in the American church have perpetuated the myth that this land was built on Christian principles rather than on stolen land and stolen labor. Too many American Christians act as though this land justly belongs to white Anglo-Saxon people, and as the hosts of the land they could expect everyone to assimilate into their world. (145)
In what ways do we take for granted the atrocities that generations of our ancestors committed against Native Americans?
However, as Christians, we must not only challenge racial hierarchy (though in America that is particularly important). We must keep track of all forms of human-constructed hierarchies that exist in our communities. This is so that, as God’s people, we can live more and more into the new humanity of Christ. (146)
What are the hierarchies that give shape to the life of our communities? How do we begin to challenge and offer an alternative to these hierarchies?
We challenge white supremacy—but mostly how it affects black men, and not enough in regard to vulnerable women’s experiences in homes, churches, and neighborhoods. We have willfully chosen not to see the patriarchy that persists as contrary to the way of Jesus. (153)
Many churches are deeply shaped by patriarchy,to what extent is your church? In what ways can you begin to dissolve that hierarchy?
People have found a way to call themselves Christian, which means to be Jesus-shaped, and still chase after power without thinking twice about it. We disregard Jesus’ teaching on power and how we ought not to use it to dominate others. Our practice, though, doesn’t change the fact: Jesus says that it must not be so! (160)
Read and discuss Matt. 20:20-28, the passage on which this quote is based.
Why are we hungry for power? How do we repent and submit our hearts and minds for Jesus’ transformation?
As long as the white male figure grounded in superiority, in all its mythic and legendary glory, stands at the center, the actual Jewish Messiah, who is Lord over heaven and earth and who holds all things together, will not be recognized for his centrality and preeminence. (164)
To what extent does our exaltation of the white male obscure who Jesus is and what he is doing in the world?
Decentralizing the white male figure’s blasphemous godlike position is necessary so that people can be restored to the image of God. Realizing this new humanity in Christ will mean that those that have become accustomed to standing at the center must now step off the table as the social, political, and theological referees lording over everyone else. Instead, everyone is invited to sit around the table as equals. There is so much more we can learn about God in Christ Jesus when we dialogue together on level terms. (165)
How do we create spaces where we can dialogue as equals, and invite those who have been oppressed by society into these spaces?
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: C-Christopher-Smith.com
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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