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.



(August 4, 2009)

Memorial Trail into Dachau


And so our day began...

Walking where so many weary had once ridden - through miles of tree-lined footpaths instead of rails and boxcars, overflowing with forsaken humanity amidst the scent of wildflowers beneath a canopy of birch and pine trying to draw us away from those ancient smells of sweat and fear and death.

Dachau border Where our journey-path ended, the never-forgotten nightmare once began.  Past river and fence and ditch and barbed wire, we entered the place of sorrows -- a city within a city, yet unlike any city ever known -- a city once filled with the souls of the doomed: degraded, used and abused.

Dachau ovens Hope was stripped here. Dignity was stolen here. The breath of life was extinguished here.  So many died in pain and suffering and agony here.

This is Dachau.

Dachau grounds

*The pictures and text were a recent entry in my travel journal while in Germany-- Chris

Off and Running at IWS

IWSbanner It has begun. This new journey, that is, toward my doctorate in worship studies.  My first on-campus session concluded today, and my emotions are all over the place.  I'm thrilled about the program I'm in, the cohort I'm part of, and the amazing faculty who will become my new mentors.  Yet I am also a little nervous (mostly excited-type nervous) about the incredible amount of reading and research that I'll be doing and that I need to dive into right away. In addition, I'm still a little speechless over the intensely spiritual and moving chapel services I have been experiencing for the past week-and-a-half. Last night's Healing Eucharist Service left me humbled, grateful, and very tearful.  This morning's service was so moving at times, and I was so choked up, that I couldn't sing -- no matter how hard I tried. Only tears and praise and deep, deep gratitude were flowing.  I honestly don't cry hardly ever, so this definitely caught me off-guard.

IWS places great emphasis on the importance of learning-in-community.  Sharing all our meals together in addition to classes and chapels is a powerful thing.  By the end of this January session, I suppose that my heart had been reshaped far more than I realized. The Lord had been doing a number on me.  Bottom line, it was all good. Very good.

The next 5 months will be extremely busy as I pour myself in the reading, research, and writing of my first "project,"  but the next on-campus session in early June will undoubtedly be here before I know it.

Braving the Weather... to Pray.

Church121508_11am_sm Winter storms bring snow to the high desert of Southern California roughly once every 3 years.  Today's snowstorm came early in the day rather than late at night.  The streets were icy and there were a number of fender-benders in town, but that didn't keep DesertPastor from braving the elements to pray at today's City Council meeting.

I thought I'd post the prayer that I offered:

Amazing God,

Thank you for the snow today,
For the reminder that life is mysterious and beautiful
And that Your workings in our lives are sometimes full of surprises.

Thank you for this Christmas season…
For the reminder that you are the God who comes.
Even as you came on that night so long ago,
Come this day into our lives, our agendas, our choices
And into our City.

Thank you for the wisdom you make available to all who ask,
To the rich and to the poor,
To the strong and to the weak,
To the employee and to the employer,
To the young, and to the old,
To the parent, and to the child,
To the teacher, and to the student,
To elected officials and to citizens.

And finally, O Lord, thank you for our City Council members & the leaders of our city.
Guide them in their research,
Help them in their deliberation,
Unify them in their decisions,
And encourage them in the process.

In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.  

DesertPastor Update...


Much has been happening in my life over the past few months -- which is part of the reason I haven't been blogging as regularly as in the past.  Here are a few highlights:

EarlyYears23 My wife, Ingrid, and I celebrated our 30th anniversary!

Two weeks ago, I was accepted into the doctoral degree program at the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies -- a life-goal that has now begun coming into fruition.  Since the Institute's campus is in Orange Park, Florida, I'll have to "suffer" a couple of times each year in order to attend course intensives and enjoy all that "ancient-future" worship with new friends!

Hammond_Leslie My son and I have taken on an exciting project -- restoring a classic Hammond organ, complete with tone and Leslie cabinets.

Advent has begun, and our congregation's celebration of the season has been richer than ever. Our community of faith is growing deeper and larger and increasingly diverse.  God is good.

And when it comes to blogging... well, a few years ago, when I was finishing my M.Div., it was my most prolific blogging season ever.  I expect that doctoral studies will definitely reignite those writing/posting fires again.



Rocky Roads

Rocky_road_heinrich_volschenkMost of us prefer our paths in life to be relatively smooth and easy to travel. What life sometimes dishes out to us, however, is something far different.  Sometimes our road becomes rocky.

Rather than a beautiful, smooth trail, our path becomes uneven, unsteady, and unpredictable.  The rocks and boulders slow us down, trip us up, and morph our journey into a challenging, and even painful trek.

Over the past year-and-a-half, the road I've found myself on has been a rocky one. A number of deaths in the family has kept me in that funky "shock/grief/aftermath" mode without much of a break.   I gained back the 50+ lbs. that I had previously lost, and I quickly felt the debilitating effects.  The rocky road I found myself on became a challenge physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Unlike my personal life, my life at church has been an exciting time of growth.  Demanding in terms of both time and energy though, I found myself often feeling depleted.  There just wasn't enough emotional (or physical) energy left to pursue the hobbies and pastimes I had previously enjoyed.  THAT is why my blogging became nearly non-existent.

Over the past 18 months or so, I have discovered a fascinating truth -- that rocky roads are paradoxically beneficial.   I remember reading once that regularly walking on rocky and uneven surfaces is very good for one's back (something to do with the constant adjusting and subsequent strengthening of one's back muscles), and as a life-long hiker -- I've long known that rocky paths are equally good for strengthening one's ankles as they are a potential risk for spraining one's ankle's.

So what's the point in all this?  Simply that although the last year-and-a-half has been full of hardships and difficulties, God has strangely enabled me to see how they have already been a benefit to me. 

My perspective has already begun to change, and the benefits are being realized.  Physically, I've started loosing that weight I had gained back, and have dropped 2 waistline inches so far.  I'm eating better, exercising more, getting away for prayer more frequently, and feeling my emotional and spiritual reservoirs beginning to fill again.

There are still rocks and boulders on my path.  My mother-in-law, who has been fighting two forms of terminal cancer for several months, finally passed away early this morning.  Her painful journey over, she is finally at rest with Christ.

Something in my spirit tells me that this season of death and suffering that our family has been in has finally come to a close.  Yes, it's been hard.  But it hasn't left us empty-handed. Consistent with the ancient wisdom of the Apostle Paul,  God is redemptively bringing forth good out of these past months -- good that we are only beginning to see.

So then... if the road you are currently traveling has become rocky, take heart my friend.  Although He may seem to be unseen, God is at work -- both in your situation, and in you.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you
wherever he may send you.
May he guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May he bring you home rejoicing
at the wonders he has shown you.
May he bring you home rejoicing
once again into doors.
In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

(morning prayer blessing, Celtic Daily Prayer)

Photo credit: © Heinrich Volschenk,

Here's What's Goin' On With Me...

Here's what's goin' on with me right now:

  • I'll be committing my father-in-law's ashes to the deep next week, and two days later, my mother-in-law (who has been contending with terminal cancer) will be having a life-threatening surgery to remove a very large, pain-inducing tumor.  Your prayers are always deeply appreciated.
  • Only four weeks left before I'm at Northern Seminary in the Chicago area, attending the 2nd annual "Ancient Evangelical Future" Conference.  It's not too late to register, so c'mon!   Be part of two amazing days with the likes of Scot McKnight, participating in amazing discussion times together and being refreshed by some extraordinary ancient-future worship.
  • A new friend -- Carlos Dawson -- joins our church's ministry team today as our Pastor of Spiritual Formation.  Carlos is a recent graduate of Asbury Seminary, and has been part of the ministry team at Consolidated Baptist - a vibrant congregation in Lexington, KY. Eighteen months of searching and praying and interviewing and searching and praying has truly paid off.  God is good!  More later...

How Free Methodists are Helping the Fire Victims...

Istock_000003204343xsmallMany of you are aware of the horrific fire storms we've had here in Southern California this past week.  Although the closest of the 20-some fires is roughly an hour's drive south of where I'm at, we are still very much affected by it all.

The communities south of us -- especially in San Diego county -- are reeling from the devastation. And in the event that some of you might want to financially help with our denomination's relief efforts there, here's an email I received this afternoon from a fellow Free Methodist pastor in Escondido:

Continue reading "How Free Methodists are Helping the Fire Victims..." »

Hans Horst Dose, 1927-2007


My father-in-law passed away early last evening.  He was 80 years old.  Hans first came to the U.S. as a young adult in order to attend California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly) in Pomona, where he graduated with a degree in civil engineering.  Fortunately for me, he married and decided to raise his family here rather than returning home to Germany, and in time -- I ended up marrying one of daughters (Ingrid).

THANK YOU to all of you who have prayed for my wife and her siblings while they have struggled through the past two weeks of their dad being on life-support. During his final hours, the hand of the Lord was clearly present. 

Your continued prayers for his children and grandchildren would be a welcomed blessing.