Book Review: "Black & White: Disrupting Racism One Friendship At A Time"

Teesha Hadra -- part of the pastoral team at Church of the Resurrection in Highland Park, CA -- recently cowrote an excellent book entitled, "Black & White: Disrupting Racism One Friendship At At Time" (Abingdon Press, 2019).  I was fortunate enough to meet Teesha earlier this month while visiting her church on a Sunday morning.  The members of her congregation were kind, authentic, and refreshingly reflective of their community's diverse ethnicities.  The message of Teesha's book clearly seems to be consistent with the faith community she serves.

Black & White_smI love this book!  It was engaging, thoughtful, and even at times -- humorous.  Teesha and coauthor, John Hambrick, have done a terrific job in describing the current state (and sin) of racism -- as well as its origins -- and done so in ways that are both compelling and convicting while still inspiring their readers to take action personally. They have also effectively explained how and why "systemic racism" is so important for Christ-followers to recognize and work at eliminating wherever it is found. Each chapter ends with excellent questions for reflection, designed to be used in a group setting or personally.

Here are two quotes out of dozens worth highlighting:

"Working against racism is part of what it means to call Jesus Lord and Savior.  Racism is opposed to God's desire to be reconciled to one another in one body that is reconciled to God." (p. 142)

"Friendship is a foundation for the concrete work of reforming systems and institutions infected with racism." (p. 189)

The message of "Black & White" is simple to understand, and simple to implement.  It may at times be painfully honest for some, but is repeatedly filled with hope and anchored in our faith.  If every believer were to read this book, embrace its content, and then live out its plea -- racism, both personal and systemic, would begin to crumble. Lord, let it be so.


The DuhVinci Code

Davincicode In nearly all cases, "the movie" is never as good as "the book." And this weekend's debut of The DaVinci Code is no exception.  And for a movie by Ron Howard starting Tom Hanks, I certainly expected a much more captivating movie than what viewers encountered.  In fact, several folks exiting the theatre where I saw the long-anticipated film were commenting about several sections that they "didn't get", that didn't make any sense to them.  And so it seems that the DaVinci Code was more of a DuhVinci Code.

In the movie, the fictional material from Dan Brown's best selling novel took up as a primary concern, the calling into question of the divinity of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was extraordinary human being, but a human being nonetheless.  And that Christianity's long defended claim to the divinity of Christ was nothing more than the politically expedient strategy of Rome's pagan emperor, Constantine.  The Council of Nicea was depicted as a puppet-council, controlled completely by Constantine for his own purposes, and who stealthily quieted all contrary voices (by execution).

The quest around which the movie is based is the search for "the chalice" of Christ -- not a cup, but the body (and womb) of Mary Magdalene -- the wife of Jesus Christ and the bearer of his child (which began a sacred bloodline that continues through present day).

Davincicode2 For many followers of Christ, consipuously absent from Dan Brown's (and Ron Howard's) presentation of the origins of Christianity, is the resurrection. For the reader (and the movie goer), the attention is placed instead on the long-dismissed myth that Jesus' descendants are still living among us in the 21st century, and clearly suggests that Mary Magadalene -- representing the pagan notion of "the divine feminine" -- is worthy of humanity's veneration and worship.

Dan Brown is a terrific writer, and I have long enjoyed reading his books.  I number myself among the scores of believers who see the popularity of The DaVinci Code as 1) evidence that today's culture values spirituality, but is suspicious of institutionalized Christianity, and 2) a unique opportunity to dialog with people about the scriptures, Jesus, and the early church.  However, I thought the movie was a little boring, and a little lacking in substance.  For example, in the book, Dan Brown spends a good deal of time discussing the "other" gospels which never made it into the New Testament cannon -- the "sources" which the movie references and claims as historically accurate.  The book deals with this a bit more straightforwardly whereas the movie seems to skirt some of these issues, thus creating "gaps" in the movie's plot.  This makes it a little difficult for viewers to follow (something confirmed by people I talked to after they saw the movie). I hope that this doesn't end up hurting the "conversation" that we -- as followers of Jesus -- could potentially have with people around us who may be critical, curious, or confused about Jesus, the bible, or Christianity. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

My recommendation concerning the movie?  Wait and rent the DVD.

What Should We Call This Era?

Earth6It was today's show -- Talk of the Nation -- on NPR which caught my ear this morning.  Richard Haass was helping to field suggestions by callers as to what we should call this current age we are in.

We came through the "Cold War" era, and some have used the term "Post-Cold War" era -- but Haass and others think that we have yet to experience the definining "thing" which will end up designating this era we are currently living in.

Any suggestions?

(Note: an "era" here is understood to be a span of time encompassing, let's say, 3,4,5 decades)

God Visits Paradoxology!


Well... it finally happened.

God visited my blog!

You can catch all he had to say by clicking on the comment link (in the left column), or go to the final comment on this article.

Which, honestly, has me wondering...

Of all the topics we've discussed here over the years, why do you think God chose this one (The Spiritual Roots of American Arrogance) to comment on, and secondly, what exegetical method should I use to accurately interpret his words?

  • Redaction Criticism?
  • Social Criticism?
  • Narrative Criticism?
  • Reader-Response Criticism?
  • Deconstructive Criticism?
  • Feminist Criticism?
  • Other?

What are your thoughts on all this?  I'm all ears!

(by the way -- Happy Thanksgiving!)

Avoiding Even the "Appearance" of (Religious) Truth


Maybe you've heard about this already, but what do you think? Does this public school district deserve to be sued?

A sticker inside science textbooks in Cobb County, Georgia, tells students that evolution is “a theory, not a fact.” The sticker also tells students that the material on evolution should be approached with “an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.” The disclaimer, which makes no mention of creationism or religion, may sound simple enough, but the ACLU is suing the school system, saying the sticker promotes the teaching of creationism and discriminates against particular religions.


Postscript: you can check out the district's Biology curriculum overview here.

Grateful to be Living

iran_quake_victim1.jpgIn the midst of all the celebration and hoopla this New Year's Day, I wonder how many of us are truly grateful to even be alive today? Tragically, the Iranian pictured here never made it into 2004 -- a victim of the recent earthquake there, along with SO many others.

I thought about posting the "expected" blog piece today. You know, a happily crafted paragraph, wishing everyone a Happy New Year along with a colorful, inspiringly celebrative photo. But I just couldn't. Not after seeing this photo. It made me grieve. It made me pray.

And so... I'm grateful to be even be living today. Grateful for my wife and kids. Grateful to still have breath and strength and time to follow Christ, or at least try to. And if you're reading this, then I'm also grateful that you're still living too.

Death of Blogging Prophesied

dvorak1.bmpIn his current article for PC Magazine, John C. Dvorak has prophesied the doom of blogging as we know it. WHAT!?! That's right. In his article "Co-Opting the Future", Dvorak draws on research conducted by Perseus Development Corp, to support his view that blogging death is already beginning to show:

  • Over half of all bloggers no longer update their blogs.

  • More than 25% of new bloggers are nothing more than "one-day wonders" -- merely a flash-in-the-pan.
  • But most importantly, "Big Media" business interests are entering the blog market in such a widespread manner, that such "co-opting" spells a sure death for amateur blogging.
  • Okay, okay. I KNOW that we live in a culture of exponential change, but blogging? Already? What will it be next month? iPod's, Napster, and mp3's? Arrgh! And with predictions of blogging doom now on the horizon, I can't help but wonder about the emerging Church -- wondering what the test of time will reveal as "already antiquated."

    If our culture is one of constant change, then in order for the Church to truly be "missional," we must adopt strategies that will accomodate this. Maybe we'll need to trust the Holy Spirit for discernment that will anticipate cultural changes ahead of time so that we can develop strategies that when launched, will still be culturally viable. Or...maybe we need to develop a new bread of missionary (we are all called to be missionaries) who can adapt and engage themselves in the culture so effectively that "change" won't really be seen as an obstacle.

    Isn't it funny how a little article about blogging can get me thinking about the future of the Church? Fascinating!