My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There has been a lot of discussion about Critical Race Theory (CRT) recently, and much of it starts with an inaccurate understanding of what it actually is and how it is used. Having just finished a course on Catholic Social Teaching, I was very much interested in a book that talks of the intersection of Christianity and CRT. This book begins with an introduction where the two authors share a little of their experience as BIPOC with regard to racism in the US and the church. It is important to note that as a member of the current majority, I do not share anything close to their experiences and recognize that most of what they talk about is very nearly invisible to me without closer examination. Ultimately that is where CRT comes it … to highlight those areas where our laws and institutions facilitate (sometimes unintentionally) the disparate socio-economic conditions between the dominant majority and the disadvantaged minorities. Simply put, CRT is a useful tool, that has of late been abused by critics and proponents a like to avoid having what amounts to a painful discussion on both sides. Here is how the authors define CRT:
"Critical race theory examines the intersection of race, racism, and US law and policy. In other words, it looks at how US laws and public policy have been manipulated and constructed over the years to preserve privilege for those considered “white” at the expense of those who are people of color. […] That being said, CRT represents a diverse body of theory and reflection, and I do not agree with it all. For that matter, not all CRT theorists and practitioners agree with one another."
The book only has four (4) chapters; each starting with an introduction, discussion and conclusion. The chapters are well organized and generally written in easy to understand everyday language, avoiding the specialized vocabulary that I have typically found in philosophical/theological text. The points are clear and well supported and amazingly non-judgmental for the most part … highlighting trends and [hidden] bias without directly attacking any individual or group. Most of the discussion ties to help the reader understand their specific experience, and both authors do a very good job of this.
"Chapter 1 explains how community cultural wealth, a CRT concept deployed in educational scholarship, resonates with the theology of creation in the image of God. Instead of a “deficit view,” which has been used to paint student populations in a negative light, educators—and Christians—can look at God’s children as bearers of the image of God.”
“Chapter 2 wades into the contentious discussion of CRT in the media and in the pews. Somewhere near the center of the ideological disagreement is the doctrine of sin. How one understands the nature and scope of sin, it is argued, has a direct impact on one’s view of the nature and scope of racism.”
“Chapter 3 uses institutions of Christian higher education as an example of the ways in which the tools of CRT can make a redemptive difference. The voice of color thesis encourages students and faculty of color that they are in the best position to understand their own racialized experiences and needs on campus.”
Chapter 4 “explores the difference that Christian hope in the consummation of all things makes for the ethics of the pursuing racial justice.”
Overall I found a lot to like in each chapter, with good balance of bulleted lists summarizing basic principles, personal vignettes highlighting example experiences, scriptural references to support general concepts and solid discussion tying them all together. In particular, I found the last chapter to be particularly hard hitting and poignant. Strongly recommended.
Introduction: Critical Race Theory in Christianity
1. Creation: Community Cultural Wealth and the Glory and Honor of the Nations
2. Fall: Sin and Racism — the Ordinary Business of Society
3. Redemption: Critical Race Theory in Institutions
4. Consummation: The Beloved Community
Conclusion: Made to Be Image Bearers
I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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