When Michael Emerson began working on Divided by Faith with Christian Smith, he expected to write "a positive book about the role of evangelicals in addressing racism." That's what Emerson told ct associate editor Ed Gilbreath in a recent e-mail exchange. Emerson was energized by the racial reconciliation efforts he had seen at a Promise Keepers event in Boulder, Colorado: "I felt like God was addressing racial division, and I was being invited to join him."But as he researched the book, he moved from a 99 percent white metropolitan area into a largely African-American neighborhood, and his understanding began to deepen. As the Emersons moved to "the historically black side of Minneapolis, sent our children to a school that was nearly 90 percent African-American, and began attending a principally black church … we entered a very different world."The differentness of that "different world" was accentuated as Emerson conducted the social research for Divided by Faith, he told CT. "Interviewing both blacks and whites in the same cities made me realize that these followers of Christ were speaking different languages, perceiving different worlds, and living separate lives."Christianity (especially evangelical Christianity) has done a good job of adapting to cultures wherever it has gone, infusing musical and literary and visual forms with gospel content. But because we worship in our own linguistic patterns and musical idioms, that very cultural adaptation also divides. A strength is also a weakness.In this issue, we excerpt Divided by Faith (see page 34) and we report on a forum of black and white leaders responding to the book's challenge (see page 40). You could read Divided by Faith and get the impression that it's just evangelical Christians who have a hard time dealing with the "race thing." But, says Emerson, other Christian traditions really don't do that much better—they just do it differently."We have an artificial division among Christians, that of personal responsibility, accountability, and change versus macro change and justice," he says. "They are both of God."***
This issue's cover photo was selected by one of CT's designers, Tina Riggs. Tina, who was advertising art director for Arizona Foothills magazine until seven months ago, spends a lot of her time researching the Web for the images you see in CT.One recent image search took nearly three days before Tina was satisfied she had the right photo—the barbed wire–wrapped lily that accompanied Philip Yancey's article in our last issue. But things usually progress much more quickly, as they did with this cover photo by Robert Essel. Tina keeps a list of photographers whose work she likes, and because she had previously noticed Essel's dramatic images of African Americans ("strong visual draw, nicely composed, dramatic lighting effects"), she was able to go directly to the Web source that carries his work.What about this photo worked for her? The visual contrast and tension between the out-of-focus background figure and the in-your-face foreground figure worked well with the contrasts discussed in our articles.What about this photo works for me? It poses a question: The black and white figures occupy the same space, but do they have a relationship? The photo doesn't answer that, but some of the articles in this issue address that question, and ultimately we must each offer our own answer.
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