Thursday, May 20, 2004

I guess I could turn this into just a book report blog.

Yesterday I read Will D Campbell's booklet, Race and the Renewal of the Church, and I was surprised to find it the best and most cogent piece of writing on race I've ever seen. What surprised me about it was that it was written in 1962. I tend to imagine that all progree in thinking about race in this country has happened since then. One of the stiking points he makes is how, after the 1954 integration decision, liberal churches started saying that we should practice integration because it is the law. Why does the church need a law to tell it to ignore race?

He also highlights a key point which I have seen brought out by much later theologians, which is that the church is not primarily a social reform institution, but a community. "The sin of the church is not that it has not reformed society, but that it has not realized self-renewal. Its sin is that it has not repented. Without repentance there cannot be renewal."(p. 4)

He also talks about how the Romans considered Christians to be a "third race". Coincidentally, I heard Orson Scott Card on the radio last night take up that same theme speaking of Mormons. Card was quite open in saying that many common social rituals of our culture would be one's he could only imagine rather than experience, such as having coffee with someone. I wish I could link to that interview, since he so wonderfully stated so many things about how the church should see itself vis a vis the United States.

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