Trouble I've Seen
Drew G. I. Hart, Trouble I've Seen: Changing the Way the Church views Racism, (Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press), 2016.
It is always good to get an insider's view on any topic, and racism in the church is no different. I care how we are perceived by the rest of the world, but how we look to sister and brother Christians is far more important in the scheme of things. Hart takes a loving look at the institutional church and the ways in which racism persists even though there have been several generations of thoughtful activism to end racism. Like other societal institutions we reflect the culture in which we are immersed. The history of how Christianity spread from Europe to the United States alongside colonialism, with all of its violent ways combined with the history of slavery in America to leave a nation that still is in need of much change.
I found the book to be challenging. I, too, have fallen into somewhat simplistic notions of racism without confronting how deeply it is imbedded in my way of thinking and the ways in which I lead my congregation. I discovered this book on the recommendation of a colleague and we've been using it to discuss the issue of racism in our clergy meetings. That, it seems to me, is a good use of the book and the ideas of the author.
Like many other books, this one is strong on assessment of the problem and a little short on practical solutions. When it comes to racism, however, awareness is critical and the book would serve an important function even if it were to offer no practical solutions. As it is, there is much to learn and a few practical next steps that come from the book.