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My friend and I were talking about our church experiences last Sunday. He visited a black church. The same day, our predominantly white church invited a local seminary professor who is black to come speak on racism and the church.
My friend was talking about the sincere energy and vitality of the congregation at the church he visited. They displayed so much more passion than our church normally does. It made us wonder why.
Granted, not all black churches have this level of energy and excitement. Not all white churches are stuffy and boring. (Aside–it’s a shame we even have such terms: black and white churches).
Here’s my hypothesis:
The journey of African Americans in this country has included tangible struggles for freedom. Whether slavery, the Civil Rights movement or the systematic violence of today, their journey has been one of struggling to overcome. It seems only natural that their collective expression of spirituality would be one of exuberance and joy.
For Caucasian Americans, we have enjoyed relative ease and privilege. We have been the primary beneficiaries of our country’s systems of education, economics and politics. Our privilege is built on subjugation and complicity, so our spirituality is one of complicity and obedience. Sit quietly in the pews and don’t jostle.
It’s just a thought. I’m not tied to it. I’d love to hear some feedback from any African American Christians out there.