My man Charlie Wear over at Next-Wave offered an interesting observation about a report by Van S of missionthink who attended the recent Emergent convention in Nashville. Charlie asked the question, “Emergent, mostly white males?”
Great question Charlie. I have participated in the discussion. And have thought about why Emergent is mostly white…for now. And I should say that Emergent US and UK are mostly white. I am not sure about the Emergent conversation that is taking place in other parts of the globe. The most obvious one is that the conversation started in white evangelical churches. So there is the historical fact that the conversation was started by white evangelicals that were concerned about particular issues relating to the church’s mission in the world of our time. So I don’t buy into the conspiracy theory that those really involved in Emergent…those that initiated the conversation were purposely trying to keep the “others” out of it. I think that would be a more charitable rendering of the pervasiveness of whiteness of the Emergent conversation to suggest that the conversation just simply started this way.
Secondly, another reason why Emergent is mostly white has to do with the history of race and Christianity in America. I have said this before in another thread and am looking forward to the response but it is this: the reason why there is a white church and a black church is because of racist white Christians. White Christian racism created the dichotomy between black and white churches. As a matter of fact there is no such social designation named “white” or “black” church prior to the peculiar way race played out here in America. White racism created the black church. The black church was a reaction to white idolatry of race. There would have not been a black church had many of our white Christian brothers and sisters had not been blinded by the false belief in white superiority. And this historical matter has continued to play itself out in American Christianity. The white/black church distinction was created because Christians violated the unity that is to be embodied in the Eucharist. The reason why Emergent is mostly white is because Christians failed to embody the Eucharist. We simply failed to be the body of Christ. And I cannot see any serious discussion of race in the Emergent conversation without calling for a serious discussion as to how and why our Christian forefathers and foremothers broke the Eucharist by idolizing their whiteness. I can’t see how we can deal with the race issue without dealing with the specifics of how this whole thing came about. It very much needs to be a part of the catechism of the Emergent conversation. Assuming of course Emergent wants to deal seriously with embodying a “deep ecclesiology”. We’ll see.