Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Bloodlines, a Review

Racism is not dead. Despite what you may think about the issue--from those that see our modern day America as a glorious fondue of ethnic delights to those that see through the smokescreen a bit too readily--racism is certainly not dead. For many of us, though, it is. We live in our content bubbles, satisfied with the status of ethnic diversity in America. Look at how far we've come, we say. Slavery abolished. Equal rights for all. Amen, and I'm thankful to God that we've come at least that far. But the question I raise, and one that John Piper points to in his latest book Bloodlines, is look how far we've still got to go.

Bloodlines is an engaging and provocative book. Piper, respected globally as a passionate man of God, sets out to show how racial harmony and embracing ethnic diversity are Biblically sound doctrines and ultimately glorifying to God. He takes on several of the modern controversies surrounding race and addresses everything with the Bible. Indeed, he steps up and writes with blunt passion, even when it's difficult to do so. But as he says,

This deeply felt sense of race as a continuing, painful, and pervasive issue in America means that talking about race continues to be difficult. The feelings run very deep and very high. If your skin is thin...hold your tongue. But holding our tongues does not usually advance understanding, deepen respect, warm the affections, or motivate action.
Yes, if we want change, if we want a greater respect of our fellow man, then we cannot hold our tongues, and thankfully Piper doesn't.

I think Bloodlines is an easy read, in that Piper is honest in his desire. He writes of growing up in South Carolina and of the racial sins he had to overcome, and only so by the blood of Jesus. And when he went into ministry he intentionally chose a region (Twin Cities area in Minnesota) that is one of the most ethnically diverse in the nation. He has lived there for over thirty years, passionate about diversity and harmony and exalting God. These things give credence to the points Piper raises, and hopefully many see his words as truth.

The book begins with Piper telling why he's wrote Bloodlines, and then he follows with several statistics and the current shape of racism in America. One of the most staggering statistics:
  • Homicide is the number one cause of death for black men between fifteen and twenty-nine years of age and has been for decades.
After the statistical dump, Piper then dives into many of the current theories and resources surrounding racism. I was ignorant of many of these names and sources, but Piper definitely was not. I found this bit fascinating, reading what many leading minds think about the "Whys" and "Hows" of racism.

The remainder of the book focuses on why a united people celebrating diversity and living peaceably is glorifying to God. Most of us are ignorant of our racism, and I suspect many of us would be appalled at ourselves if our secret thoughts were revealed. The blame is ours, but it's also the many generations before us. America has a dark history, one that misused Scripture to propel a false agenda that led to many sins, and we've still not recovered from this.

It's important to note that throughout everything, Piper never strays from the gospel of Jesus Christ. With a multitude of verses to back up his thesis, it's eye opening to see how uninvolved so many of us are. Racial harmony is not the most important issue for a person, but it is an issue that should be pursued by some. Piper feels this way, as do many members and staff at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Just read this article (How and Why Bethlehem Pursues Ethnic Diversity) to understand that.

Bloodlines is a thought-stirring book that brings up many strong arguments for why the fight against racism should be faced.  While most of us don't feel like race is an issue to concern ourselves with, consider the following.

Since majority people don't think of themselves in terms of race, none of our dysfunctions is viewed as a racial dysfunction. When you are the majority ethnicity, nothing you do is ethnic. It's just the way it's done. When you are a minority, everything you do has color.
The words are true, and the implications staggering.  We are all creatures of race.  Whether majority or minority, we all share a common earthly bloodline, and that makes us all brothers and sisters.  Praise God that we can all share a common heavenly bloodline, too, that of Jesus Christ, and it's only through His blood can we hope to have unity.


contemplatrix said...

fantastic review!

sounds like an interesting read. I will have to check this out, as well as pass this review along.


logankstewart said...

Thanks, L! 'Twas a fantastic book, and with a message I think many people need to hear.