A Late Summer Reading Seminar: Jemar Tisby’s The Color of Compromise

Organized and led by Brian Auten, Sara Sanders, and Elias Swadener

RSVP to Brian.

When?  Saturday mornings via Zoom, 9:00am, beginning on August 15, 2020, running every other week through October/November 2020. Meeting sessions will run roughly 60-90 minutes.

What is the book? Jemar Tisby’s The Color of Compromise is a survey of 17th-21st century history of black/white race relations in the context of the predominantly-white church in the United States.

What’s the overall format?  Directed reading and discussion — to include read-ahead chapters and questions. The book itself is 250 pages and is straightforward in readability.

Why a reading seminar, and why a book on history? Our elders have often talked about fostering a strong reading culture within Redeeming Grace Church. And, in his 2016 book on that very topic, C. Christopher Smith specifically addresses the importance of reading history together as a congregation. As Smith puts it, “[h]istory, sociology, and cultural studies [as nonfiction types] can help us understand better how our cultures have taken the form they have and can help us name the types of brokenness in and around us.” (Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish, p. 66)

Why are we reading this particular historical work? In reading Tisby’s book, the overall goal is twofold. First, we want reading seminar participants to walk away with a richer understanding of, and appreciation for, some of the more painful aspects of our national religious history — aspects that are often overlooked or minimized in conservative evangelical circles. Second, we want to spur greater thinking in our congregation about being a church community that is unified and, at the same time, diverse. If we want to do Christian ministry and advocacy effectively and lovingly in a diverse environment, coming to grips with our mutual history is a key building block.

What is Tisby’s background? Tisby is a current Ph.D. candidate at the University of Mississippi, where he is doing work in U.S. history. He is the president and co-founder of The Witness and co-hosts that organization’s podcast, Pass the Mic. He was one of the organizers of Reformed African-American Network (RAAN), and he received his M.Div. from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi.

Who is this reading seminar intended for?  Church members! We’d love to see church members, across all generations, who are particularly interested in black/white racial dynamics in American church history. It is aimed at those who want to think more deeply about “how we arrived” at our current moment, and also for those who wish to reflect on the different ways we might address the very real legacies of our shared history.