Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Book Review: Trouble I've Seen- Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew G.I. Hart


By Christine Sheller

Ivester Church of the Brethren, rural Grundy Center, finished a book study on the book Trouble I've Seen- Changing the Way Church Views Racism by Drew H.I. Hart in late November.  I was able to read this book and thoughtfully went through study questions made available by Katelin Hansen, as well.

Hart is part of the Anabaptist tradition (includes the Mennonite Church, Church of the Brethren, and Brethren in Christ, as well as others.)  He is a pastor and speaker, theologian and blogger.

 In the first portion of the book he gave a description of his experience being African-American growing up with an affluent family, living in white neighborhoods and school districts, and the change that college brought.

  He shared a story about his brother being very close to being wrongfully convicted.  He named the black Americans who have been killed via police brutality, starting when it first got attention in Ferguson, MO.

 He puts forth that the church in the United States, in general, needs to “change the way they view racism,” as the subtitle of his book suggests.  He speaks about the ‘white’ Jesus, and the step churches can take by depicting Jesus other than white.  He says the church perpetuates racism unknowingly.  He talks about not going with your gut, but to strive to understand oppression especially in the United States.  He speaks about how some churches have a once-a-year outreach to inner city, minority areas in their city.  He states the church needs to do more than that.  He makes several suggestions, including intentionally getting to know people of a minority and hear their stories.  He talks about hierarchy in general, and the repercussions around the world.   He says we should “truly love black people as fully created after the image of God.” (p 125) 

 I highly recommend this book.  Reading as a group has a lot of benefits as well.  Let us pray to become a church that understands racism and take steps to become non-racist!

Christine Sheller is editor and coordinator at Iowa Peace Network, and an M. Div. graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary.

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