Lots of people are talking about Obama’s speech about race, his relationship to his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and other ways in which race (and gender) have shaped the Democratic primary and, by extension, the civic discourse over recent weeks. I, too, have been emailing friends and talking–for hours and hours over the several days—sharing my own interests and concerns and opinions about racial justice, Martin Luther King, and the charges against Rev. Wright. It has reminded me of much that I hold dear, and I feel very raw about it all. I have been through a little bit on this stuff, from the late 60s onward, but have no special insight, really, although [geek alert:] I have read more than your average person on this matter. And so, it is only natural that I share a few titles with you now, my contribution to the on-going conversations about race, multi-culturalism, ethnicity and the legacy of American’s original sin.
I’ve compiled other similar bibliographies, other times at the website, and we have a very large selection of books on racism and multi-ethnic ministry here at the shop. Few churches, sadly, are truly working on this, so there they sit.
Still, great books keep coming out; IVP is particularly to be commended for doing some of the best, and consistently good, faith-based resources. God bless “Ëœem.
A Credible Witness: Reflections on Power, Evangelism and Race Brenda Salter McNeil (IVP) $13 Brand new, this is by one of our favorite speakers, a passionate and charming communicator, a woman who has walked through much of the turmoil of working for racial justice. As a Black woman, she is able to introduce us to important insights from her experience, and offer new insights on Biblical stories— Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, say. Interestingly, this is also about evangelism, and how racial reconciliation offers a glimpse of the Kingdom in a way that makes our witness credible. See also her co-authored The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change (IVP; $13.)
Free to Be Bound: Church Beyond the Color Line Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (Navpress) $12.99 Wilson-Hartgrove has been a friend and partner-in-crime with Shane Claiborne and has been instrumental in calling together folk to live in community, in service to the poor. Such “new monasticism”Â has lead him to the rural south, and the insights of this provocative, powerful call to rediscover the role of faith in crossing into the social spaces of others. Chris Rice, codirector of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School (and himself the author of a moving memoir about his work with John Perkins and his late son) says that this “marks Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove as one of the freshest and most important new voices in an American church still deeply divided and confused by the color line.”Â
Beyond Rhetoric: Reconciliation as a Way of Life Samuel George Hines & Curtiss Paul Deyoung (Judson Press) $14 Both of these men are renowned church activists, doing mature and thoughtful ministry out of the historic black church. Heavy with insight, and life-transforming spirituality, this is the real deal, motivating and practical.
Living in Color: Embracing God’s Passion for Ethnic Diversity Randy Woodley (IVP) $16 Woodley is a Cherokee leader, and this lovely book is a call not just to reconciliation between blacks and whites, but a beautiful call to truly celebrate the diversity God has given us. “We would never give Picasso a paintbrush and only one color of paint, and expect a masterpiece”Â he writes. A very good study guide is enclosed, making this a fine introduction for churches of all sorts.
Beyond Racial Gridlock: Embracing Mutual Responsibility George Yancey (IVP) $15 I am inspired reading so many of these books, some of which cause deep sadness in my soul, reminding me of older hurts I have witnessed or read about, and the anguish of our society of “deferred dreams.”Â I commend reading books about race, at least for white folks who often have large blind spots on this issue, regularly, to remain educated and alive to this struggle. This book, though, takes the conversation to new levels, offering a taxonomy of how different ethnic groups tend to react to the call for racial reconciliation, and with unflinching nerve, lays blame across the board, and offers guides to the unique responsibilities each party has. His survey of the range of approaches that have been used, and their respective weaknesses makes this a major contribution of distinctively Christian thinking. Mark McMinn, writes, “I am so drawn to this book. It gets me beyond my guilt, denial, and defensiveness. Yancey, as a black man, is coming along beside me, a white man, and acknowledging that this is our mutual task to figure out how to treat one another well. I don’t feel condemned; I feel welcomed into a conversation.”
Understanding & Dismantling Racism: The Twenty First Century Challenge to White America Joseph Barndt (Fortress) $17 Barndt is a legendary educator and workshop leader within mainline church settings, mostly, and this revised version of his classic book is a work of analytical brillance, challenging and deep.
Subverting the Power of Prejudice: Resources for Individual and Social Change Sandra L. Barnes (IVP) $16 Dr. Barnes is a serious sociological scholar, here translating the data and language of her field into theological insights, helping anyone, but especially Christians, understand the prevalence of prejudice in our society and what to do about it. Very thoughtful, very important.
White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era Shelby Steele (Harper) $16 No list would be complete without an iconoclast who breaks with the typical discourse and offers an alternative reading of the problem at hand. Known for his very eloquent call to stop talking about race in The Content of our Character, he has generated a degree of controversy with his critique of Mr. Obama in his brand new, brief A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can’t Win (The Free Press; $22.) Here is his piece in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, a piece that struck me as somewhat insightful at points, and infuriating at others. I am not convinced he’s correct—in fact, I was once told that it was his wrong-headedness that inspired Cornel West to pen his still vital Race Matters (Vintage; $12.95.) Still, Steele’s peculiar views are a viable part of the conversation, and we invite you to read widely, seek discernment, to think, talk, share. Drop us a posted comment, too, if any of this strikes you as helpful or unhelpful. Thanks for being a part of our feeble efforts.
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OF ANOTHER BOOK ABOUT RACE.
PLEASE JUST LET US KNOW IF YOU PREFER A FREE COPY (OUR CHOICE) OF A BOOK ABOUT THE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA, ABOUT FAITH-BASED RACIAL RECONCILIATION OR SOMETHING ABOUT AFRO-CENTRIC FAITH. We will grab something for you, a free surprise, but no exchanges or complainin’ allowed. ORDER HERE