Listen in to the Session’s invitation to you to participate.
About a century ago, Finley Peter Dunne described the role of newspapers at least in part as comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. In the 1980s, Martin Marty started speaking about the church’s priestly and prophetic roles in these same terms. Our priestly role is celebrative, affirmative, and culture-building—comforting the afflicted. Our prophetic role is to use God’s truth to grapple with the larger world—afflicting the comfortable.
Many of us at First Pres likely land in the category of “comfortable” who need to be afflicted more regularly by God’s prophetic truth.
In 2017, the co-moderators of the PCUSA, Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston, invited the church to read and discuss this book, Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving as part of the church’s prophetic work. We were a congregation in transition at the time. Now that we have a settled pastor, Session believes it is time for us, as a predominantly white church, to read the book to see how we might participate in Christ’s prophetic work in the world too.
Please add Waking Up White to your summer reading list.
Then, beginning in the fall, please participate in reflection conversations.
The book is organized in a way that is more conducive to daily or weekly meditation. The 46 short chapters each function as little workshop modules unto themselves: Irving shares a personal story, offers some historical or social analysis, and closes with a discussion question to allow the reader to dig deeper into the personal work. We hope you’ll join us in reading the book and sharing your reflections when we begin a new programmatic year together in the fall.
If you are new to town – if you’re moving to New Haven this summer – don’t let your newness prevent you from participating. Please join us in reading the book and sharing your reflections. We have spaces for you already reserved in our small groups!
Feel free to order the book in any form or format that is conducive to your reading style. Many of us have read the paperback while others of us listened to an audio version. If you’re unable to get a copy, email Pastor JC. She’ll make sure you get one.
Other resources to better understand white racial identity:
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo (see JC – she has a bunch of copies ready for you to read!)
Podcast Series – Seeing White by Scene on Radio
Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America by Jennifer Harvey (Some parents of young kids will be getting together to talk about how to talk with our kids about this over the summer. If you want to join in on those conversations, let Pastor JC know.)
Books we also recommend (and may read together in the future):
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahisi Coates
Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations about Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum
When They Call You a Terrorist: a Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America by Alex Kotlowitz
The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority by Ellen Wu
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantu
A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story by Tom Gjelten
Homegoing: A Novel by Yaa Gyasi
The Book of Unknown Americans: A Novel by Cristina Henriquez
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (for younger readers)