When Michael Emerson began working on Divided by Faith with Christian Smith, he expected to write "a positive book about the role of evangelicals in addressing racism." That's what Emerson told ct associate editor Ed Gilbreath in a recent e-mail exchange. Emerson was energized by the racial reconciliation efforts he had seen at a Promise Keepers event in Boulder, Colorado: "I felt like God was addressing racial division, and I was being invited to join him."But as he researched the book, he moved from a 99 percent white metropolitan area into a largely African-American neighborhood, and his understanding began to deepen. As the Emersons moved to "the historically black side of Minneapolis, sent our children to a school that was nearly 90 percent African-American, and began attending a principally black church … we entered a very different world."The differentness of that "different world" was accentuated as Emerson conducted the social research for Divided by Faith, he told CT. "Interviewing both blacks and whites in the same cities made me realize that these followers of Christ were speaking different languages, perceiving different worlds, and living separate lives."Christianity (especially evangelical Christianity) has done a good job of adapting to cultures wherever it has gone, infusing musical and literary and visual forms with gospel content. But because we worship in our own linguistic patterns and musical idioms, that very cultural adaptation also divides. A strength is also a weakness.In this issue, we excerpt Divided by Faith (see page 34) and we report on a forum of black and white leaders responding to the book's challenge (see page 40). You could read Divided by Faith and get the impression that it's just evangelical ...1
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