Monday, September 06, 2004

is the emerging church racist?

thats a question i have been pondering for awhile and for that matter is christianity in north america racist? it seems every event/gathering i attend is overwhelmingly populated by white males, most affluent. rarely does a women speak in a roll of authority, rarely, no never have i heard a person of color speak, well i did attend a workshop at the 2001 soularize lead by karen ward. anyway why is it that the emerging church is so white and so male. is there an undercurrent of domination that needs to be dealt with? why aren't there more people of color involved in this new "church" is it a matter of style? or is it truly deeper than that. if we are racist do we have the courage to confront it? i was trained to be racist as i grew up, no one sat me down and layed it out but it was clear, i was better than others. it wasnt until i became a follower of the triune God and meet a man from south africa, read james cone, and finished our first adoption, who was biracial that God destroyed my ideas of being better, it was painful and gut wrenching and at times i ran and hid but God prevailed and i can now say i am a recovering racist. the seeds will always be there sown years ago but i have a greater power now to overcome it. my prayer is that instead of all this rhetoric about what/how church is we would start a dialogue that is open and honest about the sins of our past and the hope of creating a new world together because thats what it needs to be a new world not a remodeled version of our old world, but a new dwelling built together with all God's people planning and building. then we may begin to heal and embrace each other again.can we truly have community without diversity, (racial and economic), please lets begin this discussion before we build another system that seperates and destroys.

14 comments:

Toni Ertl said...

The US/canadian/anglican version of emergent church seems to be based on a pile of intellectual arguments and philosophies that are mostly anathema to people of black origin, and probably seem slightly bizarre to asians. I don't think it deliberately excludes other races - only that it's culturally very white middle class intellectual. Not a deliberate exclusion, so much as not appealing.

John said...

toni can you explain this more. is there a difference between preference and cultural seperation, i guess i am trying to get to the root of where those preferences come from and what causes them

Anonymous said...

i don't think the emerging church is racist, it is just primarily (but not all) white males who seem to be plowing the ground. it isn't intentional, it is simply who is primarily at the forefront. it's rather an odd thing to say "racist". was Jesus racist because he picked jewish makes as his twelves disciples? is U2 and radiohead racist, because they are all white males plowing the ground in music? if one goes to an emergent church and hears the leadership criticizing other races or females, then that is reason to say racist. but, i doubt you will hear that anywhere. so, in my opinion the emerging church is not racist, it is just for this time primarily white males who are leading the way in this segment of christian mission. but don't forget efrem smith who presented at emergent and some others too. it isn't all white males.

Anonymous said...

i don't think the emerging church is racist, it is just primarily (but not all) white males who seem to be plowing the ground. it isn't intentional, it is simply who is primarily at the forefront. it's rather an odd thing to say "racist". was Jesus racist because he picked jewish makes as his twelves disciples? is U2 and radiohead racist, because they are all white males plowing the ground in music? if one goes to an emergent church and hears the leadership criticizing other races or females, then that is reason to say racist. but, i doubt you will hear that anywhere. so, in my opinion the emerging church is not racist, it is just for this time primarily white males who are leading the way in this segment of christian mission. but don't forget efrem smith who presented at emergent and some others too. it isn't all white males.

Rudy said...

i don't think the emerging church is racist. you are not crazy, because you are seeing something, you've got your finger on something. but i don't racism is it.

the conversation indeed favors a certain view of the world and way of living. as does any. i don't see folks trying to exclude anyone; if anything, emerging church types are more ethnically inclusive - at heart - than any wave of Christians I have ever read about or experienced

is the emerging church narrow in its worldview? perhaps. is it one-sided when it comes to not only ethnicity, but also gender and theological tradition? sure looks that way.

but i'm not sure it's something to beat ourselves up on, in terms of looking backward or just focusing on the present.

there are definite challenges about the future, however. we can't quit asking what the bride of christ should be, should look like... and that includes looking like Revelation 7:9

djchuang said...

if one holds a broader definition of 'racist' or 'racism' to encompass not only intentional exclusion or harm, but also unintentional neglect, then to that degree, there is some racial preference in the emerging church conversation.. observationally, it is largely white male suburban, and the few occasions when I've invited Latinos, African Americans, and Asians into the mix, most of them react with disinterest, and see that conversation as largely intellectual and irrelevant, as much as those in the conversation want to say it is highly relevant and the big next thing that's emerging.

Andre Daley said...

i think dj makes a great point we need to think of racism in terms beyond overt acts. michael emerson (divided by faith) uses the term racialization to deflect some of the defensiveness that usually comes from anglo circles when the conversations moves into unintentional racism.

as i've suggested on my blog, i think the question should to be modified to: is the emerging church intentionally racist?

my answer to that is no. but i do think there is a ton of unintentional racism present, that excludes many non white, non-western, non-male persons.

most anglos are just not aware of the unintentional acts of racism they participate in. that is why more people of color are needed in the conversation.

thanks for raising this important question

andre

Rick said...

Great question. As a white dude, I have been saying this since the EC Conference in SD last March. Part of the issue is that the ec is coming from the evangelcal voice which comes out of the white suburbs. The ec in many instances is clueless to any voice other than their own

You raise an very important point.

Thanks you,
Rick, a visitor

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