Books The Arts

United: A Book Discussion (Introduction)

Jasmine Holmes

One of my favorite movies when I was a kid was Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

Not a recording of Julie Andrews on Broadway, guys, but the version with Brandy, Whitney Houston, and Whoopie Goldberg. The version where a black Cinderella falls in love with a Filipino prince who has a white father and none of the cast members bother to ask why Bernadette Peters is Veanne Cox’s and Natalie Desselle’s mother.

I remember watching the movie at my ninth birthday, mesmerized until one of the partygoers quipped, “This is ridiculous.”

Okay, so, it is, but my multi-ethnic musical dreams were dashed with her commentary.

In the opening pages of United, Trillia lays out a vision for diversity within the church. Far from the fanciful fairy dust thrown around in the magical world of Disney, the hope for this unity comes from the uniting blood of Christ. She opens the Introduction with a beautiful picture of a multi-ethnic, Gospel-motivated body of believers, that includes Pastor Lewis with his afro, Amy with her blue eyes, Elizabeth and Mike with their three children, two adopted from Africa, one adopted from Cambodia, and the Japanese transplant Isamu. But as the vision of this place begins to solidify, she stops:

“Perhaps it’s apparent simply by my descriptions of this body of believers that this is not reality; it’s my dream. If you and I think about the various local churches that we’ve been part of over the course of our lives, few (if any) have come even remotely close to what I’ve described.” (p. 14)

The truth settles in like my party-pooper, tempting us to cry out a discouraged, “This is ridiculous.”

But, is it?

Shouldn’t the blood of Christ be able to bring us to a state of togetherness as we partake in the family of faith?

And if so, where do we begin?

Is the topic of diversity in the church an important one to broach in our day and age?

Do you think conversations about diversity will be helpful?

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

13 thoughts on “United: A Book Discussion (Introduction)

  1. Avery

    Right… the entire concept of “fear” has crippled the world, as it relates to healthy dialogue (i.e. race conversations), and laziness… well, it’s never good to be lazy. Lol. If people can cypher through those 2 factors, and man up, or “woman-up”, then we’ll see even more progress and powerful discussions about race and relationships, in the earth.

  2. Jasmine Baucham

    Agree completely with that last sentence.

    I didn’t grow up in a predominately “black” environment, but my family still possesses a lot of the trappings of a typical black family. I think part of the reason why we were able to keep a distinctiveness was because our strong family culture wasn’t reliant on outside influences.

    This isn’t to say we fit stereotypes in every way, or that I think that we should, but rather that, because diversity was always present in my life, I wasn’t threatened by different people or pressured to mold to fit the circumstance, because I realized I brought something unique and necessary to the table with my own experiences.

    Great thoughts.

  3. Tyshan Broden

    There tends to be a tendency to assimilate when you bring a lot of cultures together. I think about my myriad of experiences of being in other cultures and how I would change how I would normally act in my culture in order to appease, in some cases, others around us. We act very different when we are surrounded by our own culture than when we are in another culture. I think that as diverse situations become more of a norm then people will feel free to be themselves.

  4. Jasmine Baucham

    Do you mean that you wonder if our diversity gets lost in the quest for diversity? I think, naturally, as we break down the barriers spoken about above, we’ll start having a culture more distinctly identified by our unity in Christ and the things that bide us than by the trappings of our affinity groups. Nevertheless, if culture could be lost by coming together in diversity, some aspects of life in America would have long since ceased to exist. My roots will always impact who I am.

    That’s a fair thought, though. I’d like to hear it developed as the conversation moves forward!

  5. Jasmine Baucham

    Beginning a simple conversation sounds so easy, but it’s fundamental. Overcoming bitterness or fear of just plain laziness and speaking up is a huge part of getting the ball rolling. So true.

  6. Jasmine Baucham

    I agree wholeheartedly with your first thought: “conversations about diversity are helpful if and only if placed within a redemptive framework.” We embrace diversity as a result of becoming part of the diverse family of Christ, breaking down barriers for his glory. Stepping outside of those affinity groups and embracing the unity of our adoption is what conversations like these are all about.

  7. Jasmine Baucham

    A sobering thought. But prayer is definitely key to entering this conversation!

  8. Jasmine Baucham

    Honest is good. =)

    I love growing in the knowledge that our diversity was given to bring glory to God. One ethnicity/culture cannot express the fulness and beauty of being made in God’s image.

    And I agree about Genesis. Perfect place to start.

    A sermon comes to mind.

  9. Shelisa Trotman

    I’ll be honest…

    The very idea of recognising the diversity among us never occurred to me. I had adopted the perspective of everyone being equal (which is true) but not recognising the beauty of the difference among us. Now that I see the topic trending, I am reminded of the many parts of the one body. Although 1 Cor 12 speaks of the gifts ergo function/purpose, there is a sense in which our differences (not divisions!) glorify God.
    I really look forward to learning more as I think these discussion are very helpful. Both for those who are out-rightly affected by it and others like myself who never considered it.

    But to answer the question we start in Genesis. Where else? 😉

    I’m excited 🙂

  10. george canady

    Thank you Jasmine as you take on this difficult subject. Coming from a perspective of one in the shrinking majority, I find biblical president that some times God’s people will only repent of a besetting sin after He uses a people that are not His people to discipline His people. I hope that does not turn out to be the case here in this country. It is my prayer that we Christians understand the ramifications of this sin of favoritism, and that God raise up more people in a special way to shed a light on and warn about the seriousness of this sin. God has been patient with us for a long time.

  11. krs15689

    I think conversations about diversity are helpful if and only if placed within a redemptive framework. The mood of our culture is one of championing diversity—but it is diversity for diversity’s sake; nothing more than a child of the dictatorship of relativism. Diversity in the Body of Christ is motivated by overcoming darkness with light, and working out the ministry of reconciliation as described in 2nd Corinthians 5:18-21.

    Our churches should supernaturally become havens of diversity because they are haven’s of peace and Christ’s rest—a new kingdom where 1 John 2 is worked out: “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.” Whereas, segregated churches will resemble verse 11: “But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because darkness has blinded his eyes.”

    Affinity groups, (read ethnic groups), are the most natural social networks. We break down those affinity groups and unite as the Body because we are adopted by the Father. If conversation is predicated along those lines, I can’t think of a more affirming way to spend time “walking in the light.”

  12. Avery

    Beginning with simple conversations, in community can help debunk some myths and help move people forward, as it relates to racial harmony. Conversations are healthy and necessary, if we want to continue to see powerful, life-changing “change” in the world.

  13. Tyshan Broden

    Diversity has been such a big topic lately, esp with the Kianos conference this past week. Im wondering though, if culture gets lost in the midst us pushing for diversity.

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