Director of the Center for Applied Christian Ethics
How do Christians respond to the heightened attention and attendant vexation about the crisis of race in America today? Allow me to offer at least four ideas on how we might begin.
First, reckon with the truth that history has consequences that last a long time. Although it is true that we are long past the days of slavery and at least half a century since the end of Jim Crow laws, we are mistaken if we fail to recognize the way that our society has been built with the race problem as part of our national DNA.
One of the first things necessary is the recognition that we live with the negative effects of racist aspects of our history in the same way a person born with certain genetic predispositions lives with a susceptibility to certain health challenges because of unseen problems that lie perpetually beneath the surface.
We cannot move forward if we are not aware of the ongoing effects of the past. We need to be aware of that the challenge of race is not a mere artifact from the past.
Second, churches need to care for those overwhelmed by intense exposure to racial incidents. While conversations can be had as to whether every incident we see is truly due to racial bias, one thing I have noticed is the devastating effect of the fairly constant stream of stories.
The immediacy of communication via social media operates like a powerful waterfall and overwhelms with even innocuous and ephemeral content; the torrent of stories connected to race are often heartbreaking and distressing and keep coming and coming.
Some have recently noted that the effect of this social media waterfall leads to symptoms similar or identical to PTSD. I have begun to see some of these effects in people I know who are pursuing justice and are also emotionally …