Monday, January 15, 2007

“Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical’s Inside View of White Christianity”

I ordered this book before Christmas, and it finally arrived a week ago. I was in the middle of mopping the kitchen floor when the UPS guy rang my doorbell, and I took it as a sign that I should stop doing housework and lie on the couch for awhile. The housework was mostly done anyway, and with the noisy boys at Grandma’s and the baby asleep, the opportunity was just too good to pass up. I put it down long enough to toss in a frozen pizza, play a round of Whac-a-Mole, and get the kids tucked in. And then I picked it up again.

Every evangelical Christian should read this book.

Ed Gilbreath offers a fresh voice to the discussion of racial reconciliation. Raised in Rockford and bused to the “other side” of town to attend school, he is a self-described social experiment. He grew up going to white schools, a white church, and, eventually, a white college. It’s there that he began to see himself as a bridge builder. And he is. As editor of “Today’s Christian” and a member of a predominately white Evangelical Free church, (incidentally, the same church I attend) he is uniquely situated to discuss the issue of race within the evangelical community.

Gibreath weaves his own story and the stories of other contemporary Christians into the solid framework of history. The chapter about Tom Skinner was my hands-down favorite, and his book, “Black and Free” now graces my “to-read” list, along with the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar. I was struck by the boldness of this man, Tom Skinner. His sense of calling was absolute. And it got me thinking just how powerfully God can use one man (or woman) to bring radical change.

It’s easy to bash on the evangelical church, something Gilbreath doesn’t do. He approaches the subject as both an insider and an “other.” He recounts a story of being in a small group and voicing a different political opinion than everyone else. The critical reaction of the group made him want to run. Who of us hasn’t been there? I know I have. And if I’m honest, I’ll admit that I’ve been on both ends of this—the “other” and the critical voice of “I would never…”

In his review, Philip Yancey describes Ed as “a gentle prophet.” Yes. He brings us hard truths, but never harshly. The tone of the book is redemptive. It’s eye opening and challenging. Read it. You won’t be disappointed.

7 comments:

Emily said...

Good review. I bought the book. I should have a comment for you in response to the book, hopefully by the end of February.

For now... said...

Exellent book and I agree all should read it. I also LOVED the chapter about Tom Skinner. I prayed as I read through that chapter that God would raise up another Tom Skinner right here in my community. Sorry I was being selfish!

Llama Momma said...

Emily -- I'm glad you got the book! I don't think you'll be disappointed.

For Now -- I agree. The world needs more Tom Skinners in it.

clc said...

i was actually waiting to hear what you thought of it. i'll put it on my list, better yet, maybe i'll borrow it from you ? :)

Llama Momma said...

clc -- You can certainly borrow it, but you'll have to wait in line! (The husband is currently reading it.) I think you'll really like it. :-)

L.L. Barkat said...

I read this book in the middle of Christmas mayhem. Couldn't put it down, though so much else called. It is one of the best books I've read in awhile (okay, Kristin Lavransdatter was really good, but that was fiction)...

anyway, I'm rereading it. That says something too, doesn't it?

Llama Momma said...

LL -- yes, and it's not often that non-fiction pulls me in that way. I think it was the memoir bits that kept me turning pages, long after I should have put it down.