A Conversation Starter for Building Bridges (Book Review)

Morrison, Latasha. Be The Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation. Waterbrook, Colorado Springs, CO. 2019. 256 pages.

As we look out onto the cultural landscape, there seems to be much to discourage us. We live in a divided nation. Sound bites and tweets from politicians sow the seed of discord. Even worse, our churches seem to still be one of the most segregated gathering in our country. Rather than showing how the gospel has the power to bring together different ethnicities together in worship, too often worship gatherings reveal we are more bound to our cultural comfortability than we care to admit. For the sake of the gospel, this needs to change. In a divided culture, the church needs to put forth the power of the gospel and unite to build bridges rather than building walls. That is what Latasha Morrison attempts to do in her book Be The Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation.

A Passion Put on Paper

As a black woman, Latasha has come face-to-face with what she writes about in the book. She opens up the book, admitting at one point she was ignorant of her own history and how serving as the only black on a church staff made her more aware of some of the issues and problems we currently face. Her heart broke as she saw the church “wasn’t the credible witness for racial reconciliation” (Morrison 5) and how acknowledgment and action toward building bridges needed to be done. Born out of this passion was the ministry of Be The Bridge, the purpose and content which has now been put into this book. The book itself is divvied up into three parts (Part 1: The Bridge to Lament, Part 2: The Bridge to Confession and Forgiveness, Part 3: The Bridge to Restorative Reconciliation). Within each of these sections, you will find chapters that close with a prayer and discussion questions while a liturgy caps off each section as a whole.

A Biblical Matter

There is much good to be found within the pages of this book. The section on lament in part 1 was especially helpful to me as a white male who desires to know how I can be there for my black brothers and sisters in Christ as well as those from other ethnicities as well. Far from arguing whether this matter is biblical, Latasha points to the Bible in recognizing various ethnic groups in the worship of Jesus Christ when He returns. She also wonderfully displays the gospel (Morrison 106), the only true hope we have for reconciliation with God and man.

Wanted: Greater Clarity and Further Thought

Yet, with all the good to be found, there are some areas where greater clarity was needed, or further thought should have been considered. For instance, within the same topic of conversation, Morrison uses the terms racism and colorism. Unsure if there is a distinction, it seems, based on the context surrounding this discussion, one was used when referring to when one color is looking at their same color with a prejudiced attitude. Even after reading the whole argument, I am still not exactly sure, however, if or what the distinction is. As well, while I agree with some of what the author states on systemic racism, the quote on page 116, “ask for forgiveness in participation in racism or structural privilege” is a statement I would tweak as I am unsure I would use the same type of language when addressing structural privilege (which, to be clear, I have no problem it being addressed). Sin does need to be confessed if there is racism, but it gets a little trickier in the conversation on structural privilege. I do believe some need to confess and ask for forgiveness as they have willingly participated in structural privilege to the neglect of considering and caring for minorities. Yet, for those who have been merely ignorant, I am not sure that I would frame it that same way. That said, I am not sure what is put forth on page 116 should be directed on the broad level it is.

An area where further thought could have been presented was on the note about reparations (chapter 8). Morrison uses the Old Testament’s teaching on restitution as a case for reparations. While I appreciate her taking us to Scripture to make her argument, my struggle is if the term reparations is the best fit then or if restitution needs to be the terminology used here to be consistent with Scripture. Additionally, dealing with the personal versus corporate concepts here would have been helpful to think through because in considering this argument from the Old Testament we need to be sure we are understanding in its proper context as well as the context of the Bible as a whole. Honestly, this is an area I struggle to fully grasp what it needs to look like and even in determining how to understand this argument, observing whether this is a requirement for the pursuit of racial reconciliation.

A Conversation Starter for Building Bridges

At the end of the day, you are not likely to agree with everything laid out in this book. I cannot say I do. Yet, Latasha Morrison is just fine with that. Her desire is to work toward unity, not uniformity. That’s the same desire I have! The way forward to unity is through listening to one another and learning from each other. That is what you’ll exactly get in this book. In order to build the bridge in these conversations, you must be the bridge by connecting in relationships. If you want to find a conversation starter that will encourage you to build bridges, not walls, in the pursuit of racial reconciliation, then check out Be The Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation by Latasha Morrison.

I received this book for free from WalterBrook & Multnomah as a member of their launch team program for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

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