Friday, June 03, 2005

Racial Reconciliation

If I had a blog two months ago, I'd have posted about the time when Erwin McManus spoke at Princeton Seminary. But now that I am officially "emergent" (according to Paul's definition two posts ago), I can post away on this event...

The biggest take-away from this event was the answer McManus gave to a closing question: "How can my local church find racial reconciliation?"

McManus responded with a story which I have roughly reconstructed below:

McManus shared how he was invited to visit a large, wealthy, white church in Southern California. He met with the board (which was large, wealthy, white and male) who asked him the question how their church could find racial reconciliation.

They explained to McManus that they wanted other races represented in their worship services and that they already had plans to implement a program to offer aid and evangelism to minorities nearby who were living under the poverty level in lower-income housing complexes.

After hearing their plans, McManus began to ask questions of the men:

How many of you have someone of another race living on your street? (All hands up.) How many of you work with someone of another race? (All hands up.) How many of you know someone of another race who is in your same financial bracket? (All hands up.) "These are the people you must reach if you want to work towards racial reconciliation," he said.

McManus than explained that plans to help the poor were great plans, but that was simply what they were--plans to help the poor. They were not plans to implement racial reconciliation.

"If this church truly wants to find racial reconciliation," he explained, "it must begin with you befriending someone of another race who lives on your street, works in your office, and shops were you shop. You must interact with those you already see as your 'equals'."

"And then," he continued, "you must be prepared for your daughters to enter into bi-racial marraiges. Because if your church acquires racial reconciliation, you will start to have people of other races attend your worship services. And if your sons and daughters worship in the same building with people of other races, the probability is high that they could fall in love with each other. So if you really want racial reconciliation in your church, you must be willing to allow your daughter to marry a man from another race."

McManus was not invited back.

This story has stuck with me. It's easier to volunteer in a lower-income housing complex than to befriend the black man I work with. Plus I get a warm-fuzzy feeling after my time of volunteering. I'm not saying that we should cease our work with the poor, but that we should simply call it what it is...work with the poor...not racial reconciliation.

8 comments:

David Drury said...

great story from Erwin M

like how it's rubber meets the road there.

This is why I have an inter-racial marriage (my wife being Dutch her family definately thinks of me as being from a lesser race).

:-)

I think I'm cool with my kids dating/marrying someone from another race. We'll see in around 10 years I guess.

Interesting how Erwin said "okay with your daughters marrying a man from another race."

do you think that statement itself has a bit of racism to it (or at lest misogny)? Why just okay with the daughters? Is it because a wife is a trophy to take from another race?

Okay - I'll stop.

Amanda said...

Ah. Interesting observation, Dave. I wonder if McManus spoke of "daughters" knowing that this specific image (misogonous or not) would appeal to the particular audience to whom he was speaking. Hmmm.

If you ain't Dutch...

The Cubicle Reverend said...

Holy cow what a great story! It wouldn't be so sad if it weren't true. I grew up in an afluent suburban white neighborhood. It was almost a long standing joke that they didn't allow people of other races to live there, but they would have one or two to show how open minded they were about such things. Funny thing is the people in my highschool were so unbelievably racist it wasn't funny. Fortunately, for my family being around different types of people was the norm. I don't know many people who knew what a Japanese tea garden looked like at the age of 10. How sad.

The Cubicle Reverend said...

David,
That is a good point you have down at the bottom there about the daughters. For whatever reason parents are more worried about their daughters dating/marrying the right type of guy than they are about their sons. I do not know why that is because I am exactly the same. For all the women I know I am much more protective of them than I am of my guy friends in respects to dating

Christin said...

Since living in LA we have seen so many different kinds of blended relationships and families -- really every combination of race. One of our closest couple friends are a great example. She is half white/half Japanese, and he is half El Salvadorian/half Mexican.
Coincidentally, we all go to Mosaic and have heard Erwin give that message. It's awesome!
Well, before this comment turns into a post (which you have inspired me to write on my own blog;-) let me just say -- bottom line: Dwayne and I have talked about this and we would LOVE IT if our kids married outside of their race.
Love ya Mandy :-)

Keith.Drury said...

Great story by the "big Mac" And a good point. However I know some churches where nobody would be able to raise their hands to his question...I wonder what he'd say to them?

Then again sometimes cultural differences can be as pressing as racial ones. My yankee grandfather and mother carried an "Andersonville prison grudge" since the Civil War. They always referred to Southerners as "people of the southern race." My brother (who married a Southerner) could have gotten away with an inter-racial or a mixed religon marriage easier among my mother's family.

As for me and my house -- I was open to my two sons marrying someone of another race... after all it would have ratified some of my political convictions... but both sons rebelled and went and married palefaces.

The Cubicle Reverend said...

My sister married a gentleman from Va. It was a strange adjustment. At first we didn't know what to make of each other. Fortunately that was short lived!

JohnLDrury said...

As I remember the story, Erwin just said "your kids" may interracially marry b/c the parent's circle of friends is automatically approved as a dating pool. But I am glad Mandy told it that way, because it brings up the fact that parents are initially concerned with their daughters more than sons in this issue. Has anyone tried to explain that yet? I barely have a guess except some kind of "protect the weak" patriarchy. But that's too simple. Any ideas???