SUMMARY: Primarily written to the American church pastor Drew Hart weaves personal narratives with a little bit of church history, a little bit of American history and a little bit of theological history as a call to the church to change the way it views racism.
“For too long, the church has gone about its business as though nothing were wrong,” Hart says. “Meanwhile, it has been a racialized organism, not only fractured relationally but actually practicing, perpetuating, or remaining silent to the racial oppression of others.”
Hart drives the point home that we live in a racialized society that is dominated by white supremacy. Unfortunately the church by and large is no different. We have missed the point of Jesus coming to earth as a poor, marginalized servant and his focus on the vulnerable and the oppressed. In today’s terms, generally speaking, the poor and oppressed are people of color. It is our duty to actively resist racism and reject any form of white supremacy.
“The church must confront its popular definition of racism, which has historically never implicated the white majority by its framing of the problem,” Hart says. “We are not seeking to merely be the church for the poor and oppressed; as we work toward a more Jesus–shaped way of Christian community, we hope to be the church of the poor and oppressed.”
Hart is a talented writer with his prose exceling in the theological realm. The Trouble I’ve Seen is similar to White Awake by Daniel Hill (which we also recommend), but Hart comes at the problem from a black person’s perspective – as someone that is not only actively working against racism, but has been subjected to racism his entire life.
KEY QUOTE: “We are not seeking to merely be the church for the poor and oppressed; as we work toward a more Jesus–shaped way of Christian community, we hope to be the church of the poor and oppressed.”
BONUS: Don’t have time to read the book? Listen to Hart discuss The Trouble I’ve Seen on The Zeitcast.
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.
More curated books on racism:
When a major cultural event, such as George Floyd’s murder, shifts the focus of a country, it is easy to assume that critiques of the American church and racism are a recent phenomenon. Oftentimes we are simply unaware of prophetic voices from the the past such as Howard Thurman and his quintessential Jesus and the Disinherited. Penned in 1949, Thurman critiques the church and its seduction with power while detailing the psyche and motivation of the oppressed. His ultimate conclusion is that belief in Jesus, in conjunction with community, can empower the disinherited.Read more
To this day church services across the nation are some of the most segregated times of the week. Is this by random chance or was this intentional? Author Jemar Tisby details the sordid history of the American church and its complicity with racism in the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller The Color of Compromise.Read more