Modernity and Race


Lately I have been dealing with some personal health issues that have prevented me from fully concentrating on these posts. I plan on giving a full spread on this issue. One of the things I have been reminded by friends is that alot my rhetoric seems to be finger pointing at white people. I have no interest in blaming white people, specifically white Christians, for anything. My interests lie in getting to the bottom of why the church is divided along racial/ethnic lines in a way that hinders us from disclosing God’s presence in a more powerful and redemptive way. I am reminded by the words of Jesus about how our ‘one-ness’ discloses the heart and presence of God to an unbelieving world. So these post, I hope, will not be read as blaming white people. It is about getting to the heart of modernity and postmodernity and how they relate to the issue of race and ethnicity in the body of Christ.


I have been on hiatus for a minute. Alot of things going on. But one thing that has captured my attention over the past several months has been the issue of race. Specifically how it relates to modernity. Many Christians in emerging and missional circles have launched some brilliant insights into modernity and how it has affected the theology and praxis of the church. But one issue that seems to allude much of this discourse. The racialization of Western culture that has its roots in Modernity. We have mastered the discourse concerning the consumerization and commodification of the church, the jingoism, foundationalist epistemologies that inform our theologizing and such. I think all of this is great. As a negro that has entered this conversation I can not seem to shake the almost total absence of one of the largest pathologies of modernity: the racialization of our consciousness. For instance, everytime I enter this discussion there is always the predictable response regarding someone’s intention. My question now is this: do people intend to be captured by the ethos of commodification that dominates our culture? No…they don’t. The same thing as the racialization of our consciousness. Many people encounter the world unintentionally in their own racialization. A person does not have to be intentionally racialized in order to be racialized in their orientation towards the ‘other’. Just like a person doesn’t have to be intentionally a participant in the commodification of the gospel to commodify the gospel. Get my point?

So…I am going to take a stab at something I think is important. Just like many in emerging church and missional circles they bring their perspectives to bear on various subjects regarding modernity and postmodernity I want to talk about the relationship between Modernity and the racialization of our society. I want to talk about the many voices that laid the foundations of Modernity. We talk about Kant and how he influenced Christian theologizing. But we talk very little about Kant’s racialized view of the world that possibly influenced his philosophizing. We will talk about these voices. I won’t be talking about the normal issues we see with modernity and postmodernity. I won’t to talk about modernity as it relates to our racialization. Very little literature has been produced on this. Part of that reason is related to this topic. Much of the discourse on postmodernity, for instance, has been quite exclusive. Postmodernity, in many ways, with its emphasis of recognizing our situadness as human beings has not been able to shake the racialization I see inherent in much of modernist discourse.

Our first subject will be the philosopher Hegel.


7 thoughts on “Modernity and Race

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  1. I with you…while postmodern/emerging Christianity has sought to shed much of modernity, for some reason it is choosing a similar path when it comes to race.

    I look forward to your future posts.


  2. Ant, I’m with Jose. I can wait, but you are going to have to define what you mean by “Very little literature has been produced on this.” As far as I know, there are lots of folks that have looked at this area and it might be overdone. I might be able to reccomend a couple of articles. But, of course, I’m talking about in the academy. I don’t think Kant is at the center, but…

    Have you ever read T. Morison’s essay on “The Site of Memory.” It might be a light way to enter into a very complicated discussion. I’m glad your writing again. I was getting tired of Santa Rosa.


  3. Max,

    I agree that much work has been done in this area. I am referring primarily to emerging and missional church thinkers and practitioners. There has been a whole of lot of ink used to narrate the various ways modernity has influenced Christian theology and praxis in these circles. But the issue of race has not been given much notice.

  4. Anthony, I’m looking forward to this! As a white guy being revolutionized by God these days (still a long ways to go), I need to hear voices such as yours.

  5. Anthony,
    Thanks for stopping by “Jesus the Radical Pastor.” I, too, am eager for your postings about Modernity and Racism (and how those in the emerging conversation can address it and live in newness). Did you read E.P. Jones, The Known World?

  6. We talk about Kant and how he influenced Christian theologizing. But we talk very little about Kant’s racialized view of the world that possibly influenced his philosophizing.”

    do tell

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