VIEWS: 40 PAGES: 3 CATEGORY: People POSTED ON: 10/5/2010
Excerpt from Contemporary Sociology article about the challenges of intergrated churches and how that plays out in discussions about demonstrative worship.
Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews http://csx.sagepub.com/ Book Review: The Elusive Dream: The Power of Race in Interracial Churches Shayne Lee Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews 2009 38: 544 DOI: 10.1177/009430610903800620 The online version of this article can be found at: http://csx.sagepub.com/content/38/6/544.citation Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com On behalf of: American Sociological Association Additional services and information for Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews can be found at: Email Alerts: http://csx.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Subscriptions: http://csx.sagepub.com/subscriptions Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Permissions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav Downloaded from csx.sagepub.com by guest on October 5, 2010 544–Ethnicity senior pastor, to organize a special dinner to discuss delimiting suitable worship practices ETHNICITY and squelching black members’ craving for more animated services. Another manifestation of white hege- The Elusive Dream: The Power of Race in mony in Crosstown involves the church’s Interracial Churches, by Korie L. Edwards. leadership. While Barnes, the senior pastor, is New York, NY: Oxford University Press, black, the rest of the leaders and staff are 2008. 227pp. $29.95 cloth. ISBN: white despite the predominantly African 9780195314243. American membership. Similarly, Pastor SHAYNE LEE Barnes’ religious, theological, and cultural Tulane University orientation were consistent with those email@example.com Edwards classifies as common to white evan- gelicalism, so he posed no threat to the reli- Korie Edwards’ The Elusive Dream: The Power gious and cultural predilection of white of Race in Interracial Churches explores the attendees. More poignantly, when the church mechanisms that sustain viability in racially needed to hire two new clerics, qualified integrated churches. Supported by analysis black candidates received unwarranted resis- of data from the National Congregations tance, while the white candidates who even- Study (NCS), Edwards’ ethnography demon- tually filled the positions engendered no con- strates that white hegemony is a prevalent flict. Part of the members’ protest against force in racially integrated American hiring the qualified black candidates came churches. Edwards reveals how an interra- out of the desire to mitigate “white flight,” as cial congregation called Crosstown Commu- Edwards explained: nity Church coddles the fears and insecuri- Recognizing the effect that a loss in white ties of the minority white membership, pastoral leadership had on white atten- usually at the expense of the preferences and dance, some Crosstown members, proclivities of its majority black population. African Americans included, acquiesced Edwards compares her observations with to concerned whites’ desires in order to NCS findings on black, white, and interracial maintain the church’s racial diversity.|.|. churches, thus presenting Crosstown as a Their concerns about white flight are microcosm of a national phenomenon in supported by research, but this perspec- which most integrated churches are cali- tive reinforced dominant understand- brated toward the worship styles more ings of white social advantage and ulti- prevalent in white congregations. mately reestablished whites’ structural Crosstown, once predominantly white, dominance in the church (p.81). transformed into a church with two-thirds African American members due to demo- Rather than confronting the inherent graphic changes in the surrounding neigh- racism involved with white flight, members borhoods. Consistent with NCS findings on a made the pragmatic choice to seek white cler- national level, white and black members of ics to fill the new positions to stave off the Crosstown often had different presupposi- loss of more white members. tions about worship, music, preaching, and Crosstown conformed to white evangeli- so on. Crosstown’s white leaders and mem- cal norms in other ways. According to NCS bers shunned expressive forms of worship data, black churches are most inclined to such as dancing, swaying, waving hands draw upon religious resources for political high about the head, and shouting even endeavors, address structural forces behind though a large proportion of the black popu- racism, and hold race-related discussion lation were amenable to such demonstrative meetings. In contrast, Crosstown’s extra-reli- worship practices prevalent in many black gious social and civic activities resembled the churches nationwide. For example, after an social-political proclivities more common to African American woman engaged in the NCS data portraial of white evangelical demonstrative worship, white members churches. Crosstown’s community efforts complained enough for Pastor Barnes, the were primarily evangelistic, rather than Contemporary Sociology 38, 6 Downloaded from csx.sagepub.com by guest on October 5, 2010 Ethnicity–545 prophetic, and the church was disinclined to Shades of Difference: Why Skin Color Matters, function as a resource for racially salient edited by Evelyn Nakano Glenn. Stanford, social or civic activism. Similarly, when Pas- CA: Stanford University Press, 2009. 299pp. tor Barnes decided to hold a seminar on race, $29.95 paper. ISBN: 9780804759991. none of the white leaders and a small portion of white members attended and the topic of TANYA GOLASH-BOZA race remained a subtext to Crosstown’s con- University of Kansas gregational discourse. firstname.lastname@example.org Since much of Edwards’s findings rely on a demarcation of black and white evangeli- Evelyn Nakano Glenn has skillfully brought calism, her study could have benefited from together fourteen essays that explore the salience of colorism around the world. These a discussion of how divergent evangelical multidisciplinary and transnational works predispositions emerge, and how seminaries, provide an intersectional analysis of the magazines, para-church organizations, and political economy of skin shade. Read television ministries perpetuate these dis- together, these treatises inform the reader not tinctions by serving as cultural-conduits that only of the significance of skin color in a vari- transmit tropes and predilections to local ety of settings, but also how these locales congregations. Similarly, a chapter explain- relate to one another, and the material con- ing how American Protestantism became a sequences of these relationships. Moreover, plurality of racially segregated denomina- these contributions make clear the concep- tions would have provided an excellent con- tual distinction between race and color and text for exploring the divergent moods, pref- between whiteness and lightness, two often erences, and nuances that distinguish under-theorized distinctions. worship practices between white and black Several chapters make a convincing case Protestants. Additionally, Edwards could for the need for more extensive national-level have done more to demonstrate the diversity survey data on color in the United States. and complexity prevalent among histori- Edward Telles shows that, in the United cally black churches (and denominations) to States, whites earn, on average, the most, fol- avoid a hint of racial essentialism. Many lowed by lighter-skinned blacks, with very black mainline churches engage in heated dark-skinned blacks earning the least. Simi- battles over demonstrative worship, racial larly, Verna Keith found that lighter-skinned discourse, and political activism, suggesting African Americans have advantages over that those attributes do not necessarily reflect their darker-skinned counterparts in earn- a binary relationship between black and ings, education and occupations. Eduardo white church cultures. Bonilla-Silva and David R. Dietrich contend These minor quibbles aside, Edwards’ that a pigmentocracy is emerging in the ethnography and proficient use of NCS data United States, where people are accorded dif- ferent social statuses, according to their skin expands our understanding of how white color. These authors point out that many of hegemony controls interracial churches. their claims are tentative because of the need From this thoughtful study we learn that for more data. They stress the importance of interracial churches with a substantial pro- more recent data on skin shade as well as a portion of white members remain integrated nationally representative sample large to the extent that non-whites acculturate enough to account for variation in terms of themselves toward the dominant white cul- gender, race, and socio-economic status. tural norms, and accept whites’ privileged These essays also complicate notions of status in those churches. Accordingly, whiteness by shedding light on the concep- Edwards predicts slim chances for an tual distinction between whiteness and light- increase of interracial churches, because this ness. In her chapter, Joanne Rondilla argues would depend on African Americans negoti- that Asian women do not use skin lighteners ating power and control in that rare segment in an attempt to become white; instead, they of American society where they already wish to become a better version of them- wield clout and authority: religion. selves. Aisha Khan posits that, although Contemporary Sociology 38, 6 Downloaded from csx.sagepub.com by guest on October 5, 2010
"Challenges of Intergrated Churches"