Resource, Conference or Event

This March 25, join the Office of Race Relations and Congregations Organizing for Racial Reconciliation (CORR) for a day of learning with Peter Cha!

March 14, 2017 0 0 comments
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As people who seek to follow Jesus, we cannot ignore the racial realities in our relationships and communities. We want easy answers and quick fixes but that's not how God intends for us to live. 

February 14, 2017 3 15 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

Looking for a book to study in your small group or book club? Buying books for your church library or for yourself? Check out Waking Up White. It’s readable. It’s challenging. And it's important.

February 9, 2017 2 0 comments
Blog

Martin Luther King, Jr. day is not a “Black” holiday. It is a day to affirm the dignity of all people. It is a day to remember the example of King – a drum major for justice.

January 9, 2017 1 0 comments
Discussion Topic

A couple of weeks ago, leaders of Christian Reformed Church ministries issued a Statement on Racism to all pastors in the denomination. Let's have a conversation about the Statement, and the topic it addresses.

October 3, 2016 2 0 comments
Discussion Topic

With the recent note on race relations put out by CRC Staff we need this article to show up in this section so we can respond or comment. 

September 28, 2016 0 0 comments
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World Communion Sunday is October 2! Attached to this post you'll find prayers, litanies, and much more to use or adapt for your worship setting.

September 25, 2016 0 0 comments
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Every year churches across the CRC celebrate All Nations Heritage Sunday using worship resources from Race Relations. Last year almost 20,000 bulletin inserts and covers were ordered! Join us in the celebration. 

September 19, 2016 0 0 comments
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Racism is not part of God’s grand design. Human beings are the architects of racism. However, through Jesus Christ, God is reconciling us to Himself, and to each other, rebuilding what we destroyed.

August 19, 2016 0 0 comments
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I want us to wrestle with conversations that may be difficult. I want us to enter together into the beautiful mess of reconciliation. I want us to have a candid conversation, as family, about race.

August 5, 2016 1 0 comments
Resource, Article

The same power that rose Jesus from the grave and caused his resurrection is at work in the surrendered hearts of the believers who live for racial healing and justice in our world today. 

February 15, 2016 1 1 comments
Discussion Topic

In his article "Through African Eyes"  http://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/10/through-african-eyes

John Azumah, professor of World Christianity and Islam at Columbia Theological Seminary.relates how North American churches can embody cultural imperialism with a very paternalistic...

December 20, 2015 0 2 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

In this interactive webinar, four panelists give their Top 5 Lists, from four different perspectives, for becoming more hospitable and loving in a diverse world.

November 5, 2015 1 0 comments
Resource, Bulletin, Insert or Cover

November is Native American Heritage Month. Interested in celebrating it at your church? We've put together free worship materials for you to use!

October 14, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

In the wake of the Charleston shooting, many parents are wondering, "How can I talk with my kids about this? How much can they handle? How soon?"

June 24, 2015 1 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Lamenting is painful and there's nothing "dignified" or "pretty" about it. The Church needs to face the reality of racism in America and to join others in crying out to our Lord for deliverance.

June 10, 2015 3 3 comments
Blog

Prejudice has a long shelf life. Chances are that you (and I) keep prejudice neatly tucked away under the cover of noble virtues, traditions or plain thoughtlessness.

February 2, 2015 1 0 comments
Resource, Article

This article was printed on the front page (Friday, December 27, 2014) in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel newspaper. It is a great testimony of racial reconciliation and on what God is doing through the Body of Christ at Community CRC.

http://www.news-sentinel.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/...

December 30, 2014 0 0 comments
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It has been impossible not to hear of several tragic incidents of death of black men during confrontations with police. I have been struck and saddened by the deaths of people I did not know...

December 15, 2014 1 0 comments
Person weaving a ribbon into loose fabric.
Resource, Litany

This litany celebrates our unity in Christ through words and through the action of weaving ribbons into loose fabric, creating a wonderfully diverse tapestry.

August 23, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

What this wonderful little book does is introduce Anglos to the history and the life and the personality of the whole catalog of ethnics we sometimes impolitely gang together under titles like Latina/os and Hispanics.

July 22, 2014 1 1 comments
Discussion Topic

Last week, a colleague sent me a link to a blog post entitled "How Support Raising Keeps Parachurch Ministries White" (read it here http://ministerdifferent.com/support-raising-white). The piece contributes to ongoing conversations we have been having at the denomination's global missions...

March 5, 2014 1 3 comments
Discussion Topic

What is being done to address issue of  black mobs involved in the so-called knock-out game, which typically involved black youth attacking innocent whites or asians.  http://www.wnd.com/2013/11/fox-launches-full-frontal-assault-on-black-mobs/

Where is the mainstream media outrage?  Can...

November 19, 2013 0 6 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 10/30/2013 This webinar will outline the key skill areas of cultural intelligence and explore how CQ can help us engage across cultural lines for more effective ministry within our congregations and the communities we serve.

October 30, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

"Exploring Cultural Intelligence" will be presented by Pennylyn Dykstra-Pruim (designer and facilitator of the “Building Your Cultural Intelligence” workshop) on October 30. This free, one-hour webinar will outline the key skill areas of cultural intelligence and explore how Cultural...

October 8, 2013 0 0 comments

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I was deeply challenged by the book Waking Up White. There are so many things you don't know that you don't know. I appreciate the spirit of vulnerability that it took to share this post and I hope to follow in your lead. Thank you for sharing the specific practice ideas!

And blessings to you as well Shannon. I have no doubt as to the orientation of your heart, even where we might disagree.  To me, that tension is in a way an essential characteristic of the church.  I'm glad we are both in CRC.

And if ever you want that public, "honest conversation about racism," you know where to find me. :-)

Thanks for your response, Doug. It is good to read some of your story. While we draw different conclusions, like you, I also read Hillbilly Elegy, and I really appreciated Vance's perspective. I think we both seek to give God all the glory in what we do and say. Blessings on you as you seek to do that, Brother.

When I first read this article, I immediately ordered Debby Irving's book (Waking Up White).  It arrived two days ago and I'm about half way through it.  It is illuminating in a way, but perhaps in a way different than one might first think.

So far, there is next to nothing that Irving "uncovers" as to the real history in the US that I haven't already long known to be the real history.  Apparently, she was sheltered from the truth (she says so) and I was not.

What struck me about Irving's story is how incredibly different her life was from mine.  Her father was a Boston investment lawyer whose law school education had been paid by the GI Bill.  Her family had a really, really nice house, multiple cars and televisions, an abundance of material things generally, a summer vacation place in Maine, and more.  Her family is what I would call old New England upper, or at least middle-upper class.  She went to college of course, and, like Shannon, her bill for that was paid for, although by family, not by the GI Bill.  Indeed, to say that Irving's family "drank downstream" from government and non-government laws and policies is quite true.

But I, started contrast here's my life (I'm white too), which is representative of the lives in the NW Iowa community I grew up in. Irving was born in 1960, BTW.  I was born in 1954.

My family's first house, that I remember reasonably well, had no indoor toilet.  It was two rooms, a small move-on house plunked on the yard of my grandparents' farm.  It didn't even have real running water for that matter.  Cold water could be hand pumped from a cistern, but to get it hot, my mom had to put in on the stove.  

Our next house was one one that was torn down after we moved off.  About the same as the first house, although at least there was regular running water.  The third house was the "mansion" (as a six year old of my experience would see it).  No, still no indoor toilet (who cared) but it was roomy (in my eyes at least) and on a farm where a creek (even if muddy) ran through the pasture, a quarter mile from the house.  We could fish for bullheads in the muddy water.  This was indeed heaven.

Ok, there were negative aspects to the house.  A full one third was not habitable (even the walls were fallen in).  There was no heat upstairs, which is not a small discomfort for kids who slept upstairs during NW Iowa winters on 20 below nights.  Mom put "flannels" on the beds in place of sheets, and we learned to start the night in a tight ball, speeding out very gradually, and to share body heat.

We didn't actually get to fish much, but sometime.  From age 6 onward, I probably worked 40 or more hours a week, but only during the school year.  In the summer, we worked much more.  Don't misunderstand, I didn't resent the work.  It was just "life."  And the dividends that part of life would eventually pay were great.

When I was 12, we moved a true mansion on to the farm and tore down the prior one.  This house was apparently insulated (old mansion was not) and warm air actually came through the vents upstairs on winter nights.  Wow!  A new stage of heaven

Work was still a lot, but again who cared.  It wasn't any different for anyone else on my school bus route.  Indeed, lots of the boys got on the bus with some manure on their pants.  You get up at 5.30 in the morning to milk cows (who produce a lot of sloshing manure), and then just before the bus comes, you run out of the barn, gobble down some eggs and pancakes and hop on the bus.  No time to change clothes.  Besides, who cared.  One less thing to do in life, which was busy enough.

Well, I did start caring once I got to high school.  Thankfully, the same mansion that had heat upstairs had a shower in the basement (not enclosed but fine).  On some mornings, I was able to shower (quickly!) and now I always changed clothes before school.  But work was certainly no less.  I couldn't play HS basketball because practice was during milking time and I and my brother were the only milkers.  Basketball was for the "town kids" -- sorry.  But I did play baseball and summer fast pitch softball, all of which was scheduled with milking (and other chores) schedules in mind.  As far as I was concern, life was really great (well, minus some other aspects of it).

So I went to college, Dordt actually, but not in anyway like Irving went to college, or even the author of this article.  No one in my family had gone to college.  They were all farmers.  No one had benefited from the GI Bill.  My grandparents on both sides had immigrated from Holland, and neither of my parents had gotten any wealth from theirs.  Nor did I from mine.  College, if I wanted to do that rather foreign thing, was mine to figure out and do (in every sense of that word).  My first year, I paid tuition, room and board by milking cows for a near-by large dairy.  Started 2.00 pm on Friday. Got up 2.30 AM Saturday morning, the repeat for Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning, and Sunday afternoon.  By the time that long weekend was over, I had nearly 40 hours put in.  At $1.50 an hour, that was a ton of money (I thought).  During Christmas break I could and did put in 80 - 90 hour weeks, still at $1.50/hour, none at overtime rate -- ag work was exempted from those rules).   It paid what I needed paid. But I hated it, passionately.  It messed with my days and nights, badly.

One early college summer, I worked night shift at a Campbell Soup plant, cleaning up the facility after the day shifts killed chickens and turkeys, cooked them, deboned them, and diced the meat.  Hated that too, but irrelevant -- again, it paid the bills.

My last 2 plus a bit years of college, I ran my own insurance office.  Got licensed and sold life, disability and health insurance.  Boy, that was a learning curve, but no, there was no $ or even other support from family.  What I did or didn't do was mine to figure out and do.

Then to law school, in Oregon.  Fortunately, the federal government had not yet so badly driven up college and graduate school prices by injecting massive funding into higher education (by providing large grants and loans), so the price of law school, even a well known private one, was within reach.  My wife's teaching job paid $9000 a year, tuition was $3000, and we were really good at skimping on expenses.  Plus, during my first year, I worked side jobs for area farmers, and then starting my second year, I clerked 40+ hours a week.  Poor pay but a lot of experience.  Sure, busy, but life was still good, better than it ever had been I thought.

After law school, I hung out my shingle, practiced with a small group of attorneys.  We weren't a firm but we shared expenses.  A good model, looking back.  I made $5000 my first year.  No, not disappointing.  I was ecstatic it was a positive number and not negative.  A solo practice of law was a small business start up after all.  Most of those failed and I didn't -- yet at least.  Besides, my wife still was a teacher and we could live on her modest salary, even if very modestly.  And that was fine.  Life was still very good.

That startup year was about 37 years ago.  I'm still practicing law, in my solo practice with a small group (members having changed over the years; remember, business startups fail a lot).  In the course of those 37 years, I have represented clients of all characteristics, whether by color, gender, orientation, religion, culture, political persuasion, for other background/status.  Frankly, life is still pretty good, my wife has been teaching again (after years off because we raised four children).  And I've had opportunity to help people and good causes that might not otherwise have gotten help.

So Irving says I'm "white," and thereby I am "privileged."  She and this article would suggest that my race (which at the same time is said to not be real as an actual concept, except by perception) has created advantage for me that has given me a good life, at the expense of others (non-whites) and so I should feel guilty, regard myself as indebted, recognize I have unfairly "drunk downstream" from the unfair advantages of my white parents, but that I'm just "not seeing it" --because I am "white" of course.

For all those who read, or might read, Irving's book, should would also read JD Vance's book, Hillbilly Elegy,  a book that, since I read it, has become a bit known, perhaps because of the election of Donald Trump.

Early Dutch Reformed generations in NW Iowa were not the "white people" Irving broadbrushes.  Early on in her book, anticipating the objections, she argues that even though some readers might think that the injustices she is about to reveal stem from class, they really do stem from color.  JD Vance's book demonstrates that class disadvantage is color blind.  His Appalachian heritage resulted in a very white multigenerational mass that has become known as "white trash," or more recently, part of the "basket of deplorables."  While American culture of late says we should sympathize with the part of the poverty class that is not-white, we are allowed to, and should, regard the white poverty class as pathetic, as deserving of our scorn and disparagement, as hicks, as trailer trash, as white trash, as redncks, and as "deplorables."

At a point in his book, Vance describes how he was explaining to someone not from his culture what his culture, and his early life was like.  And then at a point in that conversation, he remarks, it dawned on him that his description matched that of how someone else might have described inner big city black ghettos.  Some song really, just a different verse.

This is the core of my disagreement with recent CRCNA memes that proclaim "we are all racist" (if we are white) and "we all have drunk downstream, and so have unjustly benefited" from a "systemic injustice" rooted in "white privilege."  

The problem with the meme is that it just isn't true.  Well OK, it may be true for some (like Irving), but it is not true for so many others (like JD Vance's community, nor the communities I have lived in -- nor me and so many I grew up with).

So what, some may say?  So what if Irving's (and the repeated denominational meme) is not true, or not so true?  So a lot, would be my answer.  To the extent any person or cultural group does well, they will do so because they, and each of them, accept the fact that their own decisions, in the points in time right in front of them, will be the dominant factors as to the outcome of their lives (and I'm not talking about financial outcomes, or even mostly about financial outcomes).  Incessant and often factually inaccurate ranting about how the privilege of "whites" are the cause for the lesser wellbeing "non-whites" won't help "non-whites" but hurt them, because they will learn from the repeated message that they themselves were not and are not in charge of their lives and still cannot be.

Thank God (I mean this literally) no one told me I was from a disadvantaged class, that this lady named Irving from Boston and others like her had innumerable advantages over me, and because of that "systemic injustices," I was doomed, unless of course I could find some outside hero, someone who had power I did not and could not have because of my "systemic disadvantage."  Thank God no one told me that.  I might have listened and believed.

So may be Irving should feel "white guilt" because her life "drank downstream" from "white ptivilege."  And who knows, the same may be the case for many CRCers, maybe especially in certain geographical areas of the country.  But even if true to that extent, it is still a broad brush caricature, and one that, I would submit, does far more harm than good.

Thanks, Alison. I will fix that!

Thanks for this.  Just want to let you know your citation links to a Newsweek article, not Time Magazine. 

Shannon.  OK.  I wasn't so "interested in learning," except that any exchange can result in learning, as I was interested in having a meaningful conversation.  And I'm not arguing the same points that you have responded to, only reiterating when you decline to respond to mine.

This theme of "we are all racists, individually and collectively," seems to be a popular meme these days in the denominational apparatus.  There is a recent Banner article on "white guilt," plus a Banner editorial on the same subject, and now your article here on the Network.

I've always thought the Network was intended to be a place for conversations among CRC members, even those who hadn't personally met.  I've also often heard the message that "we aren't willing to have an honest conversation about race."  Given all of that, I thought this would be a good time and place to have such a conversation, publicly (as your article is public), and that the conversation could be beneficial to the body (those that read Network articles and posts at least).

In terms of free time, I have a pretty full-time day job, practicing law, and doing quite a bit beyond that (right now, building an addition onto a rental I own, getting a bathroom fixed in another rental, working with a surveyor and the county to get a lot line adjustment on property needed to do the addition, taking care of a neighborhood park, and more).  I say this to indicate I see this conversation as needed, not something I engage in because I need to pass the time.  To be more blunt, you may be mistaken when you suggest you work a lot as a pastor, that I don't in my job, and so I have time to do this while you don't.  I'm making the time because I believe this is important.  Apparently, you don't think so and that is of course your prerogative.

Hi, Doug.

It sounds like no matter what I say, you will continue to argue the same points. I do not have the same amount of free time that you do to have conversations online. If you are genuinely interested in learning, I suggest that you read a book or have conversations with people that you are in relationship with in your community. As a pastor, I have found online comment sections to be an unhelpful place for such conversations between people who don't know each other. 

Shannon: You point to a CNN article that suggests there is a statistical preference in the population for lighter skin pigmentation.  While that article may be informative in some respects, it only purports to address a broad statistical reality, not a person-by-person, or individual, reality.  One of the critical questions in our conversation  is: "are we all, each of us, racist?"  You seem to me to say "yes" to that question, while I would answer "no.  Your link to the CNN articles addresses a broad statistical question but not the question I'm asking about here.

To recall, I asked, "What do you make of my and my young friend's contrary sense of physical attractiveness?  Might that be evidence that we are not racist?"

What is your answer to these two questions?  If your answer is, "I suspect if you talk with lots of white women you would hear similar things, but that is unrelated to racism," as you say in your most recent response post, I'm not understanding your answer.  You cite your childhood perception that people with light hair and blue eyes are more attractive as not only "related to racism" but as affirmative evidence of your individual racism.  So I've presented two white people (me and my 20-ish female friend at the coffee shop) who both perceive that those with darker skin and brown eyes (me as to the eyes at least) are more attractive, all other things being equal.  If your childhood perception was "related to racism" and evidence of it, then our perception must be related in some way as well, not?

While I thank you for the reference to books on racism (and I saw that 2010 Anderson Cooper/CNN segment back when it first came out), I don't perceive myself lacking information about racism, nor lacking in time thinking about racism.  I may have more experience with the the questions than you might think, but I may have formulated different conclusions than you have.  Indeed, it seems clear to me that I have, which is why I'm wanting to have a conversation about it.

Hi, again.

I suspect if you talk with lots of white women you would hear similar things, but that is unrelated to racism. The phenomena that my example was pointing to is widely documented. Here is one article about it: http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/05/13/doll.study/

I have been reading, thinking and writing about these issues for a long time, so yes, I am certain it is racism. There are some books that you could read to learn more, like Disunity in Christ by Christena Cleveland or Roadmap to Reconciliation by Brenda Salter McNeil.

Shannon.  Thanks for the response.  Who knows, maybe you are racist. :-)  But let's take the examples one at a time and explore them.

First, your childhood impression of what made for pretty.  I was at coffee this morning and talked to the 20-ish young woman that usually serves me.  She is white, a Christian, working while going to school, not Dutch, not CRC.  We discussed my question to her: "are you racist?"  Setting aside for a moment her general response, we also discussed perceptions of physical attractiveness, using your example as a springboard.  With a bit of a laugh she said she generally considered darker skin people to be more attractive than lighter skinned people, all other things being equal.

I didn't tell her this but understood, because, frankly, I perceive (as pretty) likewise.  I also prefer darker hair to blonde hair, and brown eyes to blue.  And I really think freckles are unattractive (sorry to any offended by that).  My friend's explanation for her darker skinned preference was "I just do, just like my favorite color is red."  My favorite color is blue, not red like my friend's, although I think small cars are best looking in red.

So here's the question.  Are you sure your sense, when a child, that lighter skin is prettier is evidence of racism?  And then this question.  What do you make of my and my young friend's contrary sense of physical attractiveness?  Might that be evidence that we are not racist?

I'm not intending to ignore your other 3 points, and will respond in other posts.  But I want to stop here in this post so we can have a more focused conversation.

Hi, Doug.

Racism is made manifest in four ways--two on the individual level and two on the systemic level. On the individual level, there is internalized racism, which are prejudicial beliefs about oneself or others. Internalized racism is often expressed as interpersonal racism, when a person leverages their power, covertly or overtly, knowingly or unknowingly, in relationship with others because of perceived race. On the systemic level, there is institutional racism, which are policies and practices within an institution that discriminate with racialized outcomes. More broadly, there is structural racism that plays out across society, via institutions, resulting in racial disparities.

Here are some examples:

When I was a little girl, I believed that girls with blonde hair, blue, eyes, and white skin were prettier than girls with dark skin, dark hair, and dark eyes. That was internalized racism.

When I was introduced to someone recently, who was black, I started asking her questions about her family. Not long into the conversation I realized that I had offended her somehow. In looking back on the conversation later I realized that the questions that I had asked her were revealing my assumption that she had her children out of wedlock and that they may have had multiple fathers. That microagression on my part was interpersonal racism.

When I was on a hiring team a number of years ago, I felt pretty strongly that we needed to hire someone who understood the culture where I worked, which was mostly white people. As we looked at and discussed applications, the need to "fit in" the culture was the forefront of my mind. When we had narrowed down who to interview, I realized that all of the candidates that we selected were white graduates of the local Christian college with last names from the same ethnic background. I had perceived "in group" status as a qualifier for the position. That was institutional racism.

When my grandfather returned from serving with the US Army overseas, he was offered the GI Bill and used it to purchase a home for his family. His wealth accumulated over the years, so that when my father, an immigrant, married my mother and started his own business, he was able to receive a loan from my grandfather, which banks would not give him, to get started. My father accumulated wealth through his successful business, and was able to pay for my undergraduate degree so that I could graduate without any loans. That accumulated wealth was contributed to by a program that my grandfather (being white) was able to leverage and that black veterans, because of their race, could not. That was structural racism. 

This is why I consider myself racist. It was something I was both born into and something I practice. While I have control over my intent, my intent and the impact of my behaviors do not necessarily correlate. One person I heard put it this way: racism isn't the shark in the water, but is the water we swim in. It's pervasive.  

I quite agree Shannon that race is biologically not real.  I've thought that all my adult life, if not a bit longer.   But unlike you, I don't think I'm racist.  Never have been and am not now.  No, no, no, that doesn't mean I don't consider myself quite sinful, inclined to hate God and my neighbor as you say, but I'm also not a terrorist, a mysogenist, a burglar, a robber, a drug dealer, or a number of other words, all of which denote rather specific ways of acting out one's sinful state.  I have plenty ways I act out my sinful state but acting as a racist or terrorist or drug dealer are not among them.

My question to you is, why do you think you are -- call yourself -- a rscist?  I'm not trying to be personal (maybe that is in fact a specific way your fallen nature expresses itself?), but I gather from your article that perhaps you call yourself a racist merely because you are half white (as you say), or merely because you were raised in a culture you apparently equate with white, as you say (I have a bit of a hard time understanding that), or merely because in our society at large you conclude, again as you say, that whites, statistically speaking,  have some kind of power advantage over non-whites.  But none of these latter "reasons" are cause for you to be designated a racist, nor is your inherent sinful nature.

Unless, of course, the meaning of the word itself, "racism," is changed.  But that would be cheating, I submit, in a dictionary definition-strategy kind of way.  

I understand the inclination, in a good Calvinist kind of way, to be up front about our sinfulness, but I think it does no good, and does do harm, when we so expand the definitional meaning of a word until it covers anything and everything (like the word "Smurf" in that cartoon with the little blue people).

Now I do believe racism exists and that some people are in fact racist, just as terrorism/terrorists exist or murderous assassination/murderous assassins exists, but it wouldn't do good to call everyone a terrorist or an assassin either.  If we call everyone all these specific "ways of sinning," the meaning of the words are lost and we no longer distinguish between sinfulness generally, and specific ways we might, or might not, act out our sinfulness.  And that is not helpful either -- at all.  Among others things calling everything and everyone "smurf," or "racist," results in losing the idea of the specific thing, as well as the ability to deal with it (how would you deal with the problem of "smurfyness" after all, because you don't know what the problem actually is).

I hear often that "we aren't willing to have honest conversations about race and racism."  It would seem that you are.  I am too.  Let's have a conversation. :-)

Are you saying that race is biological, and a curse from God? Race is a social construct, not a biological reality. And diversity is most certainly not a curse. Have your read Genesis 11? There is nothing about ethnic or racial differences in that text.

Even "birds of a feather flock together." Isn't that how God made us? Far as I know, there was only one race and one common language until God invented these problems for us during the "Tower Incident."

Yes the theological thoughts of former Missional African churches need to be listened to, heard, recognized as we wrestle with our own responses to North American Openness Movements.

 

Thank you for this thoughtful guide.

The questions asked are our challenge to think first about what we are actually doing.

First steps are often the most difficult. Once first steps are made we can learn to walk with Christ together.

As Christians we have more in common than we have differences.

i'm reminded of the song "Walk With Me Lord, Walk with ME."

Thanks John for your article (or articles) in which you are critical of our American culture and the way it seems that many American churches (including Reformed and Presbyterian) are following such culture.  Could it be that our culture is perhaps more on track than the church on many issues, and therefore the church ends up following culture?  If I remember correctly it was the southern USA (the Bible belt) that advocated for slavery and the liberal north that fought against it.  It was also Christians who were in the forefront of opposing mixed racial marriages.  It was also Christians (the church) who opposed women leadership, whether in the church, family, or society. And on these issues, as well as others (such as creation vss. evolution), the church gave (or gives) Scriptural support for such positions.   I think society, although listening to the church for some time, has lost all confidence in the church to give moral or meaningful direction.  Eventually the church (and the CRCNA) will probably follow culture (and rightfully so) on the issue of homosexuality.

Thanks for the feed back Bill. I guess what I mean by being proud of being white is that I'm proud of my heritage and who God has made me to be. As in I'm not ashamed of it as some people are. Yes we are different but we are on equal level with respect and the value of our lives. You know what I mean by that so don't over think it. In laymen terms we all put our pants on one leg at a time. 

Why are people "proud" over things which they had no control? 

In God's eyes we are all sinners.

Statistically, we are not all "equal" If we were, no one would bother to collect statistics.

I have never felt guilty about acts of other people unless I actively contributed to the action. 

Prejudice is acting in ignorance but discrimination is action base upon statistical or other evidence. For example, Consumer Reports tells us that some refrigerators are "better than" other refrigerators. Beagles are equal to French poodles?" What might that mean?" is not "race" just another way of writing "sub-species?"

I thought the idea was to not treat people differently because of race.  That means you don't treat someone better or worse, just the same as everyone else.  No special privileges.  I think having different races is a good thing.  Be proud of your heritage!  But love and respect everyone because in God's eyes we are all equal.  I am white and I am proud to be white but I also know that I am not better than anyone else because I am white.  It's pretty simple.  To reconcile we will have to let the past go and learn from it as we move forward.  No one today has own slaves and no one today has been a slave.  So why do I have to feel guilt for something someone in the past did to someone else in the past.  I understand that people still suffer prejudice but I don't think in this day and time that there is systemic prejudice or racism.  People have to stop embracing and perpetuating a victim mentality.

I appreciate you bringing this issue of racial bias to the forefront.  The mainstream media did not treat this the same as they would have if the roles were reversed.  Everyone is afraid to call it racism when black people do things to white people as if it's not possible for someone who is not white to be racist.  For us to work through real issues and resolve them properly we have to look at it honestly even when it's uncomfortable and goes against the social justice narrative that all minorities and mainly black communities are victims.  Don't let people shut down good honest discussion.

If ever the CRC needed to be thinking carefully and penitently about race relations, it's now.  The anger is growing in our society and our neighbors need to hear from God's people who have been given the ministry of reconciliation.   Our very diversity in the kinds of diversity we experience may get in our way by blurring issues.  The raging anger and the tearing pain of our cities demands the power of the cross to address it.  May God equip our leaders to be insightful, courageous, persistent, and gracious in leading us to address the violence on the road to Jericho.  Al and Denise, thanks for your voices.  Don't stop. 

Thanks Al. It's my intent to read the litany again and pray about its use. I appreciate your observation about the focus on self rather than others.

Denise and others -- what I appreciate about this post is that it helps us to lament our own racialized behavior, rather than the all too simple act of lamenting the sins of others in a very different context.

Hope to read the book soon.  We have been missionaries in Honduras, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, and the USA.  These cultures are all quite different.  A church meeting is a cultural gathering.  We need to learn how better to live together in our congregations and neighborhoods.  We presently help minister in a Pentecostal congregation that meets in an RCA church building, two doors from where my wife grew up.  Wayne DeYoung

A very interesting discussion. As we continue to use language of inclusion and reconciliation, too often that discourse revolves around people of color NOT having resources, knowledge or means to witness the Gospel globally. The 'root' of race-differences is NOT necessarily economic. Rather the secular conversations about 'reconciliation' get tangled in our Christian language use and unfortunately quoting of Scripture is used to argue for or against 'in-Christ' brother and sisterhood. Our imperative should be to LIVE the Gospel at all times and in all we seek to witness for the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

There are a couple of thoughts I have after reading your post and the original that you referenced.

First, I don't agree with equating nonwhites with underprivileged. So that leaves us with two questions to answer as to why more ethnic minorities are not engaging with the denomination. #1, in our multiethnic congregations, is everyone given equal opportunity to join the short term missions teams? I would argue that yes, they are, because most of the churches I work with do fundraising as a congregation to support whoever wants to go, as long as they work on the fundraising too (make the pies, wash the cars, work at the dinners, etc.) #2, in our ethnic churches, are they uninterested in missions or just uninterested in going through our denomination? Is money really a factor? I tend to think not, because I have seen some incredible donations come through our ethnic churches after a disaster. So what is the real reason?

Setting aside the STM issue, let's talk about funding missions. This is actually something that affected World Renew's decision to move towards a country support approach rather than a missionary-centered approach. Many of our overseas staff are not from North America, or if they are, are not Christian Reformed. So they don't have their own church, Grandma and Grandpa's church, and their aunt and uncle's churches to get support. Nor do they have the social connections mentioned in the article you referenced. Yet, their stories are just as powerful, if not more so. One of our staff actually had someone come up to her after church and say, "this is the first time in my life I have heard an African woman talk about Africa." Of course, as the article mentioned, it is this pooling of resources that is possible in nonprofit organizations and denominations, not so much parachurch organizations. I suspect, though, that if the parachurch organizations were able to shift their fundraising strategies they could have a similar approach. 

Shannon,

I think that short-term mission (STM) that are planned and executed by the church should be seen as a "personal development" opportunity that is provided to people. If so, we could maybe should have a church/denominational fund that are used to fund ALL short-term mission trips and ALL people would have to apply to receive the funding (think of it as a leadership development program or what have you). This is what you're getting at with the "savings group" idea I believe. But the reason I think everyone should apply for the same pool of money, rather than having some people be able to "buy" their way in, is that it creates a leveled entry platform for STMs and does not place an unfair burden on the ecnomoically disadvantages to have to fill out the "scholarship form." Now given the segregated nature of our churches, I think the question of who decides which people get to go should be a second important consideration, but that can be step #2. 

All this to say I think that the model of being able to buy your way into STMs is going to perpetuate a lack of representation for ethnic minorities. We need to come up with a redistribution model that people can buy into. 

Kyle 

 

 

Thanks for the link.  It is encouraging that requests for the leaders to speak out against this type of crime have indeed been heeded:

"On Saturday morning, the National Action Network’s Rev. Al Sharpton addressed the issue of this so called  ‘knockout game’ head on. In an address aired live on WLIB radio and streamed over the internet, the Reverend denounced ‘knockout’ as disturbing and despicable.

He said, “This type of behavior is deplorable and must be condemned by all of us.” The Reverend went on to say, “If someone talked about knocking out blacks, we would not be silent, if it is bigotry, violence or assault, we must denounce it.”

The Reverend called upon the black church, black newspapers and publications, community oriented radio broadcasts to start a campaign against ‘knockout.’  Sharpton is the host of “Politics Nation” on MSNBC. In a plea to black families he said, “Parents need to talk to their kids.”

Knowing the power of peer support and celebrity influence, Sharpton called upon the entertainment community to get involved by denouncing this behavior."

People shouldn't be afraid to walk about in their neighbourhoods.  Even in broad daylight people have been assaulted. 

Regarding parents talking to their children, the problem is that many are being brought up by unmarried mothers.  Especially boys need a father to teach them how to be a man, instead of a bully.

I believe the question as formulated is highly provocative, insensitive, and (IMHO) inappropriate for just about any discussion forum. . . . especially one focussed specifically on racial reconciliation and anti-racism.  I hope--perhaps somewhat naively--that all who post questions or comments would give careful consideration and use the acronym "THiNK" before posting anything. Ask yourself, is it

1.) True

2.) Helpful 

3.) Necessary 

4.) Kind

Grace & Peace,

Jack

P.S. the grio just posted what I think is a more balanced report about the hysteria over the alleged incidents of "knockout" that have occurred.  You can read it by clcking on this link

I guess that's what it might take to stop this so-called 'game', if enough victims fight/shoot back.  Typically bullies are cowards only picking on those they believe can't fight back.  Apart from conceal carry I doubt very much that someone obviously 'packing heat' as they say, would be picked on.

I don't know what media you're referring to, but I have seen links to numerous articles (TV shows, newspaper clips) on facebook. The links my friends tend to post are about the attackers getting shot because the intended victim was concealed carrying. So the media I'm coming across IS outraged. 

Joy,

I'm afraid your comments may not be very helpful. Your language here seems to be more inflamatory than conciliatory. There is certainly no excuse for mobs of racially motivated people "knocking out" people of other races. However, neither is there any excuse for language which over generalizes, and makes even more racially polarizing remarks to boot.

If you truly want to address the issue and have something done about it, then maybe we should be asking questions like:

Why is this happening at all? If we were a truly non-racist society, wouldn't this kind of behaviour be utterly ludicrous? How can we "love our enemies" here, as Jesus asked us to do? How can we support the victims (those attacked) by these mobs? How can we seek to bring the true, reconciling justice of Christ to all parties concerned in such happenings?

Those are the kinds of questions we need to be asking. Not inflammatory questions regarding "where the media outrage is" or "imagin[ing] what it would be like if whites attacked blacks like this" None of those questions is helpful, I'm afraid, except insofar as they reflect your feelings of upset: feelings which are natural and understandable. It IS upsetting when ANY people attack ANY other people--especially when it's racially motivated. But let's seek to make it better, not worse.

It is a gross generalization to assume all people of 'other' ethnic or cultural backgrounds are poor and/or do not have or give resources to their churches. One person's opinion does not shake my foundation of faith in God or the CRCNA. And they have a right to their opinion(s). I find my Joy and Peace in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christs' assurance of Grace.

Thank you for your encouragement. For once I expressed my real feelings and it helped me personally to 'post it.' As children of God we all have good intentions and our collective challenges are great. I am a firmm believer that with Christ filled hearts and minds God will lead us to unity. There has been too much talk and writing and not enough commitment to living Christ-like lives together. The Peace of Christ be with you.

Fronse,

I empathize with your sorrow that we have not done better.  But I also know that many African Americans and other minorities have expressed your same exhaustion, yet they keep on.  I pray that you will join me in keeping on even in the face of discouragement.

Peace,

Randy Gabrielse

Well at 66yrs olde I read, study and pray a lot. Giving 'examples' to me serves no purpose other than reading reactions and counter reactions to what I write. I felt motivated to post which I avoid most of the time because I'm oriented to living the Gospel rather than writing about it. It is interesting to me when I read, listen and seek God's Grace in conversations on or offline. The feeling of remorse I write about is because regardless of the words diversity or multiculturalism or equal rights, the reactions of good well meaning people is too often based on unsaid beliefs. Just say I'm olde and tired.

In response to Frons, I am curious as to whether you could give an example of where the love of God is not present in a situation that you have experienced?   Or perhaps give an example of where people are not willing to change in a situation where you thought they should have changed?  

John 

Having read previous discussions about diversity, witnessing a change in the mood of people toward inclusion from 'let's try to do better' to 'what diversity looks like' I have been hopeful then cautious now wondering what may or may not occur in our denomination. In 2012 I am not feeling the Love of Christ in discussions and not seeing a willingness to change or 'give it a try.' The assumptions that diverse people somehow are different in mind, body and spirit in our relationship to the people of God I find to be 'odd.' I continue to hope, pray and quietly believe that our 'diversity' will occur when we all accept each other as children of God.

While different management styles and different ways of looking at things is a statement that "sounds" good, it is so open-ended that it does not mean very much.  Would that mean that having a pope as manager would be okay?  Would that mean that every local church formulating its own confessions and hymnbook would be okay?   Would it be okay if elders were appointed for life?  Would it be okay if preachers were not approved by seminary or by classis?  How far does it go?  Of course there are many personality styles and also many peculiar council working arrangements in different churches, including approaches to preaching, singing, discipline, weekly activities, but don't they all need to fit within the direction and control of scripture?   Diversity is great, yes, in many things.   But in some basic and essential things diversity is not so great.   Therefore it cannot be a general philosophy.   Each case needs to be considered in its own context and on its own merits.   Yes? 

MY THOUGHTS BELOW, WHILE INFORMED IN PART BY MY ANTI-RACISM WORK AND TRAINING, ARE MY OWN AND DO NOT REFLECT THE OPINIONS OF MY EMPLOYER. 

I agree that "visible" minority is an awkward phrase. I think part of the issue is that Canada and the US use different terminology, but I know that's not all of it. 

My personal preference is to identify people from "under-represented groups" or those "outside of the majority culture". This takes into account diversity of life experiences, rather than physical appearance. In my opinion, the reason we should value increasing our diversity is that we want the leadership of this denomination to be attainable by all in our denomination, not just those who are on the "inside". This diversity incorporates physical appearance to some extent, but as your examples show, that is not the entire story.   In terms of "neither Jew nor Greek", I would refer you to (CRC Campus Minister) Shiao Chong's reflection on New Testament "Affirmative Action". Pastor Chong says of the Church in the book of Acts:   "Instead of maintaining the status quo, they chose to integrate the subgroup into the structure of the church. They chose to create a new leadership structure and empower the immigrant subgroup’s ability to exercise their gifts and leadership."  (Shiao Chong, A Biblical Case for Affirmative Action, thinkchristian.net. Retrieved 11/14/2012)  In my opinion, the real issue is that those of us in the majority culture need to be willing to release control and share power, which means going outside of our comfort zone to allow for different styles of management and different ways of looking at things. This is the diversity that I long to see in the CRC. 

The irony and stupidity of such a 25% "visible" minority requirement becomes obvious, when you are working with minorities who are not obviously visible.   I work with and have meetings with a variety of people who display a variety of appearance.   Some are aboriginal or part aboriginal or metis who do not look significantly different than some old german or ukranian farmers, while others are more obvious.   One individual seemed to be certainly aboriginal, but I discovered he was only about 1/8th aboriginal, 7/8 european ancestry.   The child of a Japanese preacher and a Norwegian pianist;  will this child satisfy the visible minority requirement based solely on appearance, or will he only half satisfy the 25% requirement?   To really mess with the english language, I assume that we are not looking solely for those who are 1/4 blood visible minorities?  

No matter how you slice it, this particular target makes ridicule of the notion that in Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew.    If the best preachers, and the most spiritual and most biblical are all from India or Nigeria or Korea, then let the staff be 100% visible minority.   But don't pick them for their color or lack of it. 

Michelle Obama, for example. A story on TV reports that she had white ancestors going back 200 years yet she is "black." If her children marry white people Mrs. Obama's grandchildren will be "black." If the grandchildren marry white people the great-grandchildren will be "black," although "mixed race" is becoming popular among brown/tan skinned people. But never "white." 

I saw a 10 by 10 (?) photo montage representing shades of human skin color with darkest black in the upper left corner and white in the lower right corner. Only one picture out of the 100 or more looked white. The color variation across the ranks and files  appeared accurate to my eyes.

Another few generations and "white" will be a  small minority in the US, probably a good thing.

 

Bill,

I am not sure what you mean by "the use of "race"".  Do you mean that to speak of racial difference e is "an admission that "white" is a regressive characteristic, or do you mean something else?

I find that in much discourse that recognizes differences in appearance (whether this is race or whether race is real or not does not matter to me in this discussion) many people who appear white are unconscious of their whiteness (what most people would think of as "race." Rather, because we are privilged, we do not have to regularly be conscious of our race, such that it is virtually transparent." 

I do not think of "white as a regressive characteristic."  I do think, however, that the beliefs, heritages and experiences of other cultures are becoming more important to living an educated and Christian life in today's USA.  These are things that white people have usually been able to ignore, but increasingly need to understand.  In this regard, I think that our distinctively Dutch Reformed heritage/culture/subculture makes many of us more self-conscious of our particular subculture within "white culture".

Peace,

Randy Gabrielse

Might. I think, at least in the USA, the use of "race" is a tacit (not understood?) admission that "white is a regressive characteristic.

Bill Wald, you're a breath of fresh air.  I'm 57, have practiced law for 32 years, and convinced people don't really know what they're are talking about (literally) when they use the word "race."  Eg., is "black" a single race?  What about "hispanic"?  How about Mexican, and is that a different "race" from Spanish, or Honduran?  How about "the German race"?  Dutch?  Dutch/American?  African American?  How about American (must we say "native American" for that to count)?  People from Sheboygan, WI (they talk funny), New York (talk about distinctive)?  What race is the "Ugly American" anyway?

Other questions: What race is someone who is 7/8th Korean and 1/8th Dutch?  What is Tiger Woods anyway?  Why do you need to be only a slight fraction of "native American" (whatever that exactly means -- I was born here, am I not "native American") to be qualified as "native American" (and thereby often be eligible for certain federal benefits)?  And why does "white" cover so many different people who are so many different cultures?  What do I not recognize so many "black people" as "black people."

Now, I do understand the term "culture," and think using that is meaningful, even though "culture" is composed of complex intermix of characteristics.  Thus, you can be "Iowan" in culture (that definitely means a number of things to me), or Japanese in culture (I have one of those in my house).  Or, you can be Japanese (in terms of looking like one) but be Iowan in culture.

Like Bill Wald, I often, very often, don't recognize someone's race.  I realize I didn't recognize it only because in a later interaction with or about that person, he/she or someone else tells me they are a certain "race."   And then I don't really know what to do with that information because it's so, well, meaningless.

My bottom line analysis is this: I think "race" is a cheap word (that is, not resulting from a lot of thought) that we continue to use predominantly because using the word adds to the users ability to sharply accuse or just get attention.  Our ears perk when we hear the word because it maybe means someone is being mean, or about to start a fight, or making a strong accusation, or running for political office and behind in the polls.

This may sound a bit silly to some, but I think we should precisely define what we mean by the word "race" before we name committees after the word and have discussions about it.  Don't misunderstand, I don't mind having those discussions, but I do prefer to take one step at a time, in logical order, when so discussing.  Maybe the word has no real meaning anymore, and least for Christians.

I think Angeltp might agree???

I'm sorry Billwald , I believe our God is way ahead of us. His Church will survive according to his will. Our job is to look where he wants to take us. Nick, be assured that this will happen. Just look at history of the first church which we are part of and hoe different it was. God will prevail.

P.S. I'm not a pastor or officeholder of any kind except husband and father.

Mostly because we are the new kid on the block?  The Catholic Church excels in letting local congregations use local pagan customs in worship without losing the basic Catholic dogma, ritual, and symbolism. There is no visually mistaking a Catholic Church for some other denomination in any town. There is always the name and the cross. 

Look at the names of the new attempted church plants. Home Missions seems to want to plant stealth congregations with weird names, no reference to the CRC , sometimes no reference to Christianity in the name.Even old congregations are changing names so people driving by will not know they are CRC. 

The CRC was founded as a Dutch church and now any reference to our (yours, not mine - I never heard of the CRC until 20 years ago) heritage is considered evil by our leadership. The whole push is to become a non-denominational multi everything something. It is plan schizophrenic  to push the new  confession while maintaining a Korean classis and special subdivisions for other racial/cultural groups. Hispanic  is wonderful but Dutch is evil.

I'm no fan of generic "Christian" grade schools but what does the CRC have that earns it the right to be considered a Christian denomination? In other words, what do we do that other denomination don't do better? If we dump Dutch  culture the only thing is our emphasis on higher education, particularly Calvin Col and Sem, and the Dutch interpretation of John Calvin, which is vastly different than Presbyterian theology - and the political/social outworking of the theology is vastly different. Without emphasizing Dutch theology there is no point to continuing the denomination. I'm no preacher or scholar but if you preachers on this list can't see the difference and don't teach the difference then we might as well join the OPC.   

I've read maybe a dozen Bible translations cover to cover and for study, for accuracy, for poetry for the quality as English literature, the NIV is one of the worst! Yet some of our leaders say that it it is to difficult to read as a pew Bible. What does this say about  about the CRC Christian school system? 

 

It took me 30 years to find a denomination with which I agreed theologically and in practice. I signed on only to discover our leadership is dumping the old ways as fast as they can.  Enough rant for now

 

 

 

 

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