SUMMARY: The color of one’s skin is a driving force in how one experiences the world. A brown person’s experience is distinctly different from that of a white person. With this lens professor Robert Chao Romero tells the history of the exploitation of his people on multiple continents while incorporating the birth of the brown church.
From Dominican friar and priest Bartolome de Las Casas to Catholic priest Oscar Romero the author introduces a bevy of priests, pastors, and activists who have shaped Christian theology while highlighting a multitude of theological frameworks, such as mision integral and the Galilee principle, which were both developed by Latinas/os.
“The failure to recognize the important role of ethnic culture and experience in shaping biblical interpretation can produce damaging results because it can lead a culturally dominant community to insist that its own interpretations of the Bible are ‘objective’ and ‘official’ to the exclusion of all others,” Romero writes. “Such biblical nationalism is idolatry, and it has historically lead to biblical interpretation that have oppressed Latinas/os, blacks, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and other people of color in the United States.”
Brown Church is a dense, detailed read giving a much-needed voice to the Latina/o perspective and their influence on the global church. With that said, we recommend reading it after The Color of Compromise (American church history) by Jemar Tisby and Unsettling Truths (American history) by Mark Charles.
KEY QUOTE: “Brownness is a liminal legal, political, and cultural space that US Latinas and Latinos have inhabited since the US-Mexico War and the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo of 1848…We have been wanted for our land and labor, while at the same time rejected for our cultural and ethnic difference. When economic times get tough, we become the disposable ‘illegal alien,’ and are scapegoated and deported. We are wanted and unwanted. Necessary, yet despised. We are Brown.”
BONUS: Want to know more about the book? Listen to Chao Romero’s interview on the Straight White American Jesus podcast.
DID YOU KNOW?: Sunday to Saturday has a Good Reads page where we post all of the books we have read – even the ones that didn’t make the cut.