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A few weeks ago, my wife and I went to see the movie “The Help.” I was outraged that human beings were treated with such disdain. I felt like I wanted to go out and march on Selma or something. But, of course, that was back in the 50’s and 60’s long before my birth. I praise the Lord that such wicked segregation does not exist today. We live in a much more enlightened time today. So, the very next day I went off to worship at my overwhelmingly white church followed by a week of work at my overwhelming white Christian school.
I couldn’t help but think of this experience when I finished reading the book Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian by John Piper. Of course, I am always eager to read anything by Piper. I knew it would be about race, and I was ok with that. After all, I am against racism. I have no problem reading about the sins of others… But the book proved to be façade-shattering from the very first chapter. As Piper describes his early childhood, he shocked me with this statement,
John Piper was a racist
I was, in those years, manifestly racist. As a child and a teenager my attitudes and actions assumed the superiority of my race in almost every way without knowing or wanting to know anybody who was black, except Lucy. Lucy came to our house on Saturdays to help my mother clean. I liked Lucy, but the whole structure of the relationship was demeaning. Those who defend the noble spirit of Southern slaveholders by pointing to how nice they were to their slaves, and how deep the affections were, and how they even attended each other’s personal celebrations, seem to be naïve about what makes a relationship degrading. No, she was not a slave. But the point still stands. Of course, we were nice. Of course, we loved Lucy. Of course, she was invited to my sister’s wedding. As long as she and her family ‘knew their place.’ (p. 33-34)