J. Kameron Carter, race

More on Race

Two things.

First, J. Kameron Carter’s book, Race: A Theological Account is out. I happen to hold a copy of it in my hand. (Unfortunately I have to wait until the proficiency test is done this Monday until I can give the book the time it deserves.) Also, the book was less than $40 in hardback to boot. Woo hoo!

Second, CNN has written one of their better articles that I’ve seen recently on race and the church (especially after the Wright debacle brought on by them): “Why many Americans prefer their Sundays segregated.”

Americans may be poised to nominate a black man to run for president, but it’s segregation as usual in U.S. churches, according to the scholars. Only about 5 percent of the nation’s churches are racially integrated, and half of them are in the process of becoming all-black or all-white, says Curtiss Paul DeYoung, co-author of “United by Faith,” a book that examines interracial churches in the United States.

DeYoung’s numbers are backed by other scholars who’ve done similar research. They say integrated churches are rare because attending one is like tiptoeing through a racial minefield. Just like in society, racial tensions in the church can erupt over everything from sharing power to interracial dating.

DeYoung, who is also an ordained minister, once led an interracial congregation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that eventually went all-black. He defines an interracial church as one in which at least 20 percent its membership belongs to a racial group other than that church’s largest racial group.

“I left after five years,” DeYoung says. “I was worn out from the battles.”

The men and women who remain and lead interracial churches often operate like presidential candidates. They say they live with the constant anxiety of knowing that an innocuous comment or gesture can easily mushroom into a crisis that threatens their support.

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6 thoughts on “More on Race

  1. Robert says:

    First I want to ask, where did you get your copy of Carter’s book? Did you pre-order it, or pick it up at a local vendor? I have a special respect for Carter because he has paved a path I didn’t know existed. I am an African-American student currently attending Dallas Seminary (the alma mater of Carter). Because of him, I understand that one can attend a school, and admire its tradition without being pigeon-holed into its system.

    Second, I think multicultural congregations have the opportunity to portray the kingdom of God in an unusual and efficacious fashion. The picture it presents to the rest of the world is analogous to the human makeup–diverse unity. But as long as church continues to be concerned with preferential desire and not sacrificial empowerment, this type of witness will be silenced.

    The Fall Semester is fast approaching, but hopefully at some point in the future we can discuss Carter’s book.

  2. I pre-ordered this one. Perhaps a bit unnecessary, but life is a little busy right now and pre-ordering made it one less thing to keep track of.

    As for the the “multiracial” congregations. I’m of the belief it shouldn’t be any other way. And of course, its really damn hard to do it that way. Its almost always the hard way, but at least its good and thats what matters.

  3. Michael Westmoreland-White says:

    I belong to a congregation that tries to be multiracial and, in the 20 years I’ve been here, some times we’re better at it than others. But, here are some things I’ve learned that are essential: 1)If the leadership does not exhibit diversity, neither will the congregation. 2)Styles of worship cannot all be from one cultural group. 3)White ministers need to spend time in black churches–at least 6 months at a time, not spot visits–to have any hope of multicultural churches. Same with Latino, Chinese, etc. churches.

    Churches that are DELIBERATELY homogeneous, as with the “Church Growth Method” are heretical by definition.

  4. Michael Westmoreland-White says:

    You know, many of us U.S. theo-bloggers have given posts on the role of race in the U.S. presidential election this time out. Maybe we should challenge each other in the next month or so to write posts on racism in theology–past and present and in whatever global context we find ourselves.

  5. As much as race in the presidential election can be important, I’d much rather see body as a theological category.

    But in the meantime, talking about race and racism when it isn’t February would be a good thing.

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