What I’m Reading: April 2019

Natchez Country, Indians, Colonists, and the Landscapes of Race in French Louisiana by George Edward Miline

The most enduring legacy of eighteenth-century Natchez-Franco relations may well be that of its indigenous inhabitants’ switch from a location-based identity to one that privileged skin color.

natchezWhy I chose this book: I live and pastor in Vidalia, Louisiana, the town which shares a bridge with Natchez, Mississippi. While moving into my city, I began to see an interesting racial dynamic that exists here, and I decided to study the history of my area.

Simple summary: Miline chronicles  the 17th century history of the French colonization of the city of Natchez. In his book, he describes how the French settled as dependents of the Natchez people, eventually enslaving them and attempting to end their civilization through war. He goes into great detail describing how the Natchez moved from equals who were identified by the location of their village, their practice of intermarriage, and worship of the sun, to become people who coined the name “red man” as an attempt to bring solidarity to the indigenous American people’s fight against the inevitable enslavement from the French.

Who should read this book: If you desire to understand the history of Louisiana, Mississippi, or Alabama, this book is invaluable. This book is a must read for any person living in the Miss-Lou area as the book brings life to the Indian mounds, grand homes, Natchez Trace, and plantations across the area.

Race Against Time: Culture and Separation in Natchez Since 1930 by Jack Davis

Common ground between the races is unlikely to be found at the ballot box or on the school campus. Many locals also doubt that it will come on Sunday Mornings, the most segregated time in the south, as the saying goes.

51AZ3R454EL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Why I chose this book:The city of Vidalia’s history and culture is directly connected to our sister city of Natchez next door. With our histories as intertwined by the bridges which cross the Mississippi, I am thankful for the research to help me understand the history and dynamics of my town.

Simple Summary: Davis writes the history of Natchez, Mississippi from 1930 on focusing on the dynamics between the white and black populations. The book does not hold punches when it comes to the dynamics which have surrounded the school systems, religious culture, tourism industry, and racial terrorism which exsisted within the city. As a resident of the sister city, much of the current culture makes sense because of the history outlined in this book.

Who should read this book: Race Against Time would be an excellent book to highlight within the school systems in Adams County and in Concordia Parish. Understanding one’s history is necessary to heal and bring progress to our cities. I believe that Davis’s book would be a good read for every person in our area.

Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention: Diverse African American and White Perspectives edited by Kevin Jones and Jarvis Williams

Repudiating slavery is not enough. We must repent and seek to confront and remove every strain of racism that remains and seek with all our strength to be the kind of churches of which Jesus would be proud, the kind of churches that will look like the marriage supper of the Lamb.

51kYJjisMdLWhy I chose this book: You can probably tell the theme of my reading this month. I chose to understand the dynamics of race, how it impacts my city, and how the church can be a reconciling agent in the process. No book hit more directly than understanding my denomination’s struggle from its inception with racism.

Simple Summary: The Southern Baptist Convention was born out of racism. Yes, we were born as a missions organization, but we were formed because Northern Baptists refused to allow slave holders to become missionaries. In response to the denial of the northern churches, Southern Baptists formed their own missionary convention. Since that point our churches have been on the wrong moral ground often turning a blind eye to racism or enabling racism under the guise of our churches. This book was written to confront our past and pave a way forward for our convention. The book lays bare several challenges the convention (gathering churches) has yet to address regarding racial reconciliation.

Who should read this book: First and foremost, I believe every Southern Baptist pastor should read this book. Beyond just pastors, church members as well would benefit from understanding the history of our missionary convention as well as the necessary challenges that lay ahead of us.

Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice by Eric Mason

The goal of this book is to shine a spotlight on one of the aspects of the gospel that has been neglected and dismissed as inappropriate for discourse.

51vPn7GKcFLWhy I chose this book: As I began to curate my list of books to understand racial reconciliation, Mason’s book was on the top of the list. The title communicating the need to confront racism and injustice hit home.

Simple Summary: Mason helps to open the eyes of a white audience of racism which we have turned a blind eye to. He lays out an explanation of how the church should approach the issues of dealing with racism. For me, the most valuable content in the book is Mason’s explanation of and understanding of the difficulties of African Americans which I miss as a white Christian.

Who should read this book: Of all of the books I read over the month, Mason’s book is best for the average church member.

Insider Outsider: My Journey as a Stranger in White Evangelicalism and My Hope for Us All by Bryan Loritts

The way forward is not an appeal to the facts as a first resort, but an attempt to get inside each other’s skin as best as we can to feel what they feel and to seek to understand it.

51q3g0dSM8LWhy I chose this book: I wanted to read a month’s worth of books on race and our town. The first four books on the list were picked specifically. I spotted Loritts’ book on a suggested reading list from Dr. Mason’s book. I’m glad I picked it up.

Simple Summary: Where Mason’s book is written to help understand the average person in relationship to race, Loritts’ book deals with how a person of color relates within traditionally white evangelicalism. Loritts has worked to bridge the gap between white and black evangelicalism.  He shares through the book the struggles that he experienced in the white church. Through communicating his story, Lorritts shares the challenges and goals needed to bring reconciliation to the church at leadership levels.

Who should read this book: Loritt’s book would be a great book for pastors to read. His book helps us to understand the walls which divide the church. As an African American pastor who has bridged the gap into mostly white churches, Lorttis offers a unique perspective.

15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me edited by Collin Hansen and C. Jeffrey Robinson Sr.

A few days into that first pastorate, I realized that only the Lord working through his Word and his Spirit could make dry bones live. All I could do was preach the Word, pray, and shepherd God’s sheep.

41OwqgY5FOL._SY346_Why I chose this book: When I stepped into ministry fourteen years ago, I was underprepared and overwhelmed. It took me about 5 years to see through the conferences which promised big and delivered little to see that much of what I needed to learn could only be learned through patient experience as a pastor. I picked up this book to further build the wisdom I need to serve my church.

Simple Summary: Hansen and Robinson compiled a book of input from seminary professors and quality pastors who give their thoughts on the intangible wisdom gained from years of experience in ministry. I wish this book would have existed when I began preaching. It covers the need for patience in church, how to serve as pastor to your wife, how to walk through suffering, and many of the other topics a new pastor would never understand from the seminary classroom. The book reaffirmed and encouraged me in the direction my leadership has moved as I’ve been serving as the pastor of FBC.

Who should read this book: This book is built for pastors. I believe there is valuable wisdom for both the new and experienced pastor in this book. For the new pastor this book sets an important foundation for a lifetime of ministry. For  the experienced pastor, this book serves to encourage and refocus their ministry.

How Christians Should Relate to Government by Wayne Grudem

Genuine, long-term change in a nation will only happen (1) if people’s hearts change so that they seek to do good, not evil; (2) if people’s minds change so that their moral convictions align more closely with God’s moral standards in the Bible; and (3) if a nation’s laws change so that they more fully encourage good conduct and punish wrong conduct.

41vqJcKEYjLWhy I chose this book: I love politics, and I hate politics. Before being called into ministry, I wanted to be a politician. Early in my life as a pastor I saw my heart grow consumed with political talk shows and news. I have seen clearly in my life how obsessive politics have become and what a huge distraction they have become in many of my church friends’ lives. I needed wisdom.

Simple Summary: Within the small book, Grudem outlines 5 ways he believes Christians have been/are relating to the government in a non biblical manner and then makes the case for his understanding of  Christian’s proper interaction in regards to government and influence.

Who should read this book: Grudem’s book would be beneficial for most Christians. Believers need a balance of how to relate to the government without either obsessing over it or choosing to divorce themselves from the process. Grudem builds a good balance.


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