27 10 / 2012
Written by a long-time Christianity Today editor, this book delves into the various attempts—both successful and unsuccessful—by the white evangelical community to bring about “reconciliation” with black evangelicals. He also describes his own experiences and difficulties as one of the few African Americans to work and exist within mainstream evangelical culture.
Gilbreath describes the loneliness of being an extreme minority in his workplace, church, and community, as well as the often misguided or ignorant actions of white Christians interacting with him and other people of color. He points out some of the commendable reconciliation movements—such as Promise Keepers—as well as the places where change is needed. Overall, his tone is positive and optimistic.
It is clear that Gilbreath speaks out of his own unique experiences, not as a representative of black evangelicals, and some might not be comfortable with his willingness to forgive and move on in matters of prejudice and racism. However, this is a book that is clearly directed towards white evangelicals, so a conciliatory attitude is probably expedient, especially since he does express disappointment with the stalling of the reconciliation movement in recent years. In sum, it’s a very helpful perspective and a good starting place for anyone interested in the issue of racial reconciliation in evangelicalism, but I would hope that readers of Reconciliation Blues would go on to read and listen to other voices in this conversation as well.