Thursday, February 23, 2006

Remember, you're here to serve and learn. You should be doing some more learning.

A small black church across the street from my old grade school in my neighborhood was approached one day by strangers in suits. These suits represented a large, Protestant, American and white denomination. The denomination has in recent years try to find a presence within the urbana. The denomination also owns the building within which the church was meeting. The suits informed the pastor, with no uncertain terms, that they had to vacate the property, the denomination was moving in. So the church was shut down so that - how shall we say this - carpet-baggers can move in and handle ministry in the area. It was from that point that we knew that if we saw a large group of white people (usually teens) in our neighborhood, we knew where they were coming from. The denomination's presence in the city (remember, they neither asked for nor received assistance from the locals) was fairly short-lived, despite seemingly bottomless resources. Maybe I should tell this story to this, um, uninformed brother.

Some time ago, my friend Adam was opining about how some white christians were praising stereotypical depictions of black Christians in Church movies (as in, The Gospel and the Medea franchise). I think I might be more susceptible to seeing his pov on this. In his closing comments on his review of The Second Chance, Dr. Newman, the president of, says:

Themes of racial reconciliation can make for great film. Glory Road was a good example of a movie of this type. But when movies focus on church politics we cannot expect that many people outside the church will want to see such fare. And even if a few do, will they come away with the right message?

Excuse me? Glory Road? Speaking of message movies! Right, the heroic white coach and staff would lay down their reputation to lay waste to racism on the basketball court? Please! Even the coach acknowleges that this was a dramatic embellishment - he put out an all-black starting lineup (the first for a South D I school, btw, not for an American school, as is suggested by the movie).

But Newman's main point against the movie is in the airing of dirty laundry (the same issue is addressed by William Mangus at Christian Spotlight, but he doesn't go into detail here) . The problem to concentrate on, his talking points seem to insist, isn't the need of urban ministry and the neglect of the subrban church to become incarnately involved (as listeners and learners first), but it's that the filmmakers have the audacity to put a megachurches shortcomings in this area "on blast," as my students would put it. The man needs to take a page from Ethan, and serve and learn. The Second Chance - despite not being the mainstream movie most of us would've wanted - was true to life. Seriously, church, we should stop worrying about non-Christians seeing us attack racism and the status quo within the church. Isn't that what we should be doing? Aren't we supposed to not keep secrets?

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