Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What Our Kids Read In Church

I was surprised and frankly discouraged yesterday when my daughter, chattering away in the car as we traveled to-and-from soccer practice, said confidently that she imagines God to be a white man in his early 20s. The "early 20s" part of that image intrigues me, but the "white" and the "male" parts tell me that I still have a lot of work to do as a parent and a pastor!

For an 8-year-old to say that God is a white man says to me -- at best -- that my daughter has seen many images of a
white Jesus and has concluded, rather logically, that the Father of white Jesus must also be white. At worst, it suggests that she associates -- albeit, probably unconsciously so -- God with "normalcy" and normalcy with whiteness, ergo, God is white.

As a parent, I intentionally buy children's books and encourage my kids to read books that feature non-white protagonists and/or non-white-American-culture settings. It's hard to find a mainstream children's television program in which the non-white character (almost always a supporting or sidekick role) does not function as the comic relief element of the show. And I'm raising my kids in a predominantly white school district. No props there.

As a pastor, I work at a church that -- surprisingly, among white Protestant churches -- has very few images of white Jesus on display throughout the building. No gentle white Jesus knocking at the door. No white shepherd Jesus smiling at the children. There are two stained glass windows with Jesus, remnants of the original church building, and a supply of children's Bibles with a whole lot of old white guys in robes parting seas and giving speeches and sharing food. Only a few images, but it's clearly enough: Jes
us and God are white men.

So here's a challenge to myse
lf, to my church, our conference, and all of us in predominantly white congregations who think that we're doing well with 1.5% non-white membership and with our mastery of politically correct language about race: there are many starting points to enter into a conversation on race in our churches . . . how about starting with our children's images of God, and purposefully -- and habitually -- using artwork and books in church that show a God who is not recreated in the white image?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tim Wise (clip)

An excellent resource for your Sacred Conversation on Race: an excerpt of Tim Wise's DVD, "The Pathology of Privilege." Wise offers a snapshot of some of the American history that underlies many current debates over race-related issues: immigration, poverty, the manipulation of racial differences to benefit the rich and fuel division among the less-than-rich. Check this out, as well as other resources from Tim Wise!

Friday, April 16, 2010

God is still speaking!

Check out the UCC's new ad: The Language of God.

Pass the word that God is still speaking!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Speaking in Truth about the Tea Party

3/24/10 online article by Princeton University professor Eddie Glaude, Jr.: Tea Party Epithets and the Habits of the American Heart.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Redemption Song

From the Womanist Musings blog: "Tune-in Tuesday: Bob Marley, Redemption Song" and an encouragement to reflect truthfully on power (our own power and societal powers).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Teach Your Children Well

Love Isn't Enough (formerly called The Anti-Racist Parent) is a keenly insightful blog that I highly recommend to all readers!

In particular, check out this recent post about the urgency and importance of teaching our children to understand racial differences!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Active U.S. Hate Groups

Lest we lose sight of the organized movements of hate around us (MAP via Southern Poverty Law Center)....or the impact of those who stand against hatred and work on anti-racism in themselves and in their communities (MAP, again from Southern Poverty Law Center).