My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Review: Christianity and Critical Race Theory: A Faithful and Constructive Conversation

Christianity and Critical Race Theory: A Faithful and Constructive Conversation Christianity and Critical Race Theory: A Faithful and Constructive Conversation by Robert Chao Romero
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.

#ChristianityandCriticalRaceTheory #NetGalley

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.