Let me begin this book review with a disclaimer. David Moore is a friend of mine. That does not disqualify me from reviewing his book. All I can say is that if I had not found the book meaningful and helpful, I would have remained silent. My simple review is that I find the book very, very important.
My second disclaimer is a personal one. I am a white, older, well-educated, middle class, male. My life is marked by privilege about which I am aware only when I choose to be. I grew up in the inner city, have leaned far to the left both culturally and politically almost all of my life. I am a Christian. Indeed, For part of my life I identified with the broader evangelical movement but I do not now and have not for about 30 years. I consider myself pretty woke... but as soon as I say that, I remind myself that I am a white, older, well educated, middle class male... and that brings with it a certain set of blinders.
I’ve read the book three times in the course of preparing to write this review. The first time I approached the book as David's friend. I found the book a wonderful and intimate sharing. I learned things about my friend that I suspect he would never have shared under other circumstances. This was all enhanced by the fact that my first go through was listening to the audio book, read by David himself. The second time, I tried to come at the book more objectively and read a physical copy of the book. I found a powerful and personal look through a lens that is not the one I have. It felt a bit more hard hitting than the first read. I think this experience was enhanced by the gravity of a hard back book in my hands... The third time was just to make sure I hadn’t missed something important. I allowed my earlier perspectives to meld a bit and went back and forth between the audio and the physical copies.
My biggest take-away of this book is the reminder that my experience of the church is not normative for all people... that my black friends, no matter how easily they seem to move in the same circles as I, always do so with an asterisk beside their name... and a sense of tension that “one of these things is not like the other.” I have always been aware of the degree to which race colors every experience in our culture including the church, but have not thought as critically as I have needed to about the exact meaning of that awareness in this particular instance. This book encourages me to do so. In response I have found myself talking with other black friends about the ways that race has impacted their experience of church. Had that been the only result of reading this book, it would have been well worth my time.
David’s story is personal. I suspect that it is also fairly universal for my black friends who move in the broader, white, church. It does resonate with the experiences of my friends with whom I talked after reading. The book is courageous and generous. It is prophetic and heartbreaking. David gives a gift to those of us who claim to follow Jesus by sharing his story and calling us to a deeper and more authentic walk of faith and to a community of awareness and caring.
If you know black folk who are part of the Church, this book will help you understand the tensions they likely feel. If you wonder how and why black evangelicals differ so vehemently from white evangelicals in the cultural debates of the time, this book will open the door a bit for you. If you assume that Church is one place where racism does not impact our way of living, this book tears away the bandages that hide the wounds. If you want to hear one honest man share his story and find your life both enriched and challenged by that life, read this book. If you're white, read this book. If you are a person of color, read this book. In every case, allow it to be an inspiration to share your experience of race in the Church and in the broader culture and a doorway to deeper understanding.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.