From Publishers Weekly
Despite political strides toward racial reconciliation since 1964, many blacks feel that nothing has really changed since Jim Crow days. Some also worry that the church—which should be leading efforts in racial reconciliation—is one of the worst offenders in fostering racial division. Gilbreath, an editor-at-large for Christianity Today
, offers a poignant and often humorous look at the state of racial reconciliation within evangelical Christianity specifically. Part memoir and part history of the struggle, Gilbreath chronicles his own faltering attempts as a young man to deal with this issue. His own life changed when he read Tom Skinner's 1968 autobiography, Black and Free
. Skinner, an evangelical Christian convert who had once been a gang leader in Harlem, helped Gilbreath see how he could reconcile his evangelical identity with the church's dysfunctional approaches to race and social justice. Gilbreath now believes that he can no longer walk away from conversations about race and his own racial identity in a mostly white evangelical church. Regrettably, the book ends with the passive notion that no matter how much we strive to bring about racial reconciliation, we must trust God to bring about change. In spite of this disappointing conclusion, Gilbreath's recovery of Tom Skinner's work is worth the price of the book. (Dec.)
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"[A] refreshing combination of truth telling and rebuke when necessary. Students of Christian history and ecclesiastical officials both within and outside the Evangelical tradition will be challenged by this frank and balanced assessment."
"[The author] paints a vivid picture of the Evangelical Church today as it pertains to racial reconciliation. Without sounding glib, Gilbreath helps us to understand that unity among people can only be achieved by reliance on God. When we trust in God's sovereignty to bring about reconciliation, we discover a divine grace that brings reconciliation and harmony among people."
"Congregations, sessions, Presbyteries and individuals interested in exploring how to go beyond superficial statements of inclusivity will find this easy-to-read but profound and provocative book an eye-opener."
"This could be one of the most powerful books you will read this year, one that explores a delicate topic without being so offensive or unreasonable that few will listen."
"While a powerful read for those already in the throes of the reconciliation movement, I would also highly recommend Reconciliation Blues
for those who have not yet entered. While the issue of racism--especially in the church--is never an easy one, Gilbreath addresses the issue much with gentleness and grace. His vulnerability is a sigh of relief for other nonwhite believers who share his experience of isolation, and a challenge to those of us who too often forget how much we have to learn."