Book Review: Under Our Skin

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Only through a relationship with Jesus Christ will the earthly distinctions between us fade, as our oneness in him takes precedence over color, creed, and culture and as our allegiance to him couples us to make those who matter to him matter most to us.  This is our hope.”  Under Our Skin by Benjamin Watson

I am extremely impressed with Benjamin Watson.  I honestly didn’t know anything at all about him until I read his essay after the Ferguson decision was announced on November 25, 2014.  Watson challenged me to think more deeply about the issues regarding Ferguson and to examine my own heart to make sure that I was addressing any thoughts or attitudes that would be contrary to the gospel commandment to love my neighbor as myself (Matthew 22:39).

Watson is a great football player who puts his faith and his family first.  It is obvious to see that he is respected by others in the NFL as well as those who have no connection at all to football at any level.  My prayer for Ben is that the Lord would continue to give him these opportunities to share and that he would keep his focus on the gospel.

I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and am so grateful for that experience as I had friends of a variety of different backgrounds.  The public high school that I went to was full of kids from all over the world.  I became a Christian in the summer before my junior year of high school and realized that the biggest impact I could have for the gospel was the way that I interacted with my classmates.  It was such a blessing to have had that opportunity to learn so much about other people.  Since then, I’ve had the privilege to travel the world for a variety of reasons including mission trips, conferences, and most importantly…to meet and adopt our precious son Eli.  I grew up as a white girl in Memphis, TN and now I live in Atlanta, GA as a wife and as the proud mom of a white girl and a brown son.  My husband and I are so grateful that God chose to bless us with a son that helps us keep our focus on the gospel recognizing that we are all part of God’s design as the human race. Grace upon grace upon grace.

This book doesn’t take long to read, but it will challenge you if you are willing to be honest with yourself and truly consider your thoughts on skin as well as sin.  He does an excellent job of sharing his own story while imploring the reader to recognize that everyone has a story…and one that is worth knowing and appreciating.

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted them below…

  • There’s a feeling in white America that everything is equal now.  But black people know in their bones that there’s still a residue of neoslavery that sticks to so much of life.
  • The church, I believe, has the greatest opportunity to effect change in our communities.  Yet it remains the most segregated institution in America.  “Sunday morning remains one of the most segregated hours in American life, with more than 8 in 10 congregations made up of one predominant racial group.” Christianity Today, January 2015
  • The real problem of racism is not in the extremes at the edge of society.  The problem of racism is not in “that guy over there”.  It’s right here.
  • Most research confirms what we’ve already figured out on our own: We pick up our attitudes, assumptions, and prejudices from the world around us.
  • Race is a neutral part of how we understand the world as children.  But as we get older we being to learn from those around us—our parents, our friends, our friends’ parents—and we pick up their attitudes about race.  Brown and peach become black and white.
  • We tend to take things and automatically blame them on race…when sometimes the facts actually say something else.
  • We want to point our fingers outward, but the problem of race starts within.
  • They fought violence with nonviolence.  They fought hate speech with prayer.  They fought indignity by rising up in all the glory of their God-given humanity.
  • When TV news is chock-full of newscasters forming theories and assumptions, most which later prove to be untrue, they contribute to the problem.
  • Truth is often more complex that we want it to be.
  • I wonder why we can’t turn off the TV when the speculators and sparring matches come on; and why we can’t keep from going to our respective corners; and why we can’t have the courage to stay away from groupthink.
  • The great struggle for black and whites is to accept each other on the basis of our common humanity, a humanity that comes, as I believe, from God.
  • I think something is tremendously right when blacks and whites march together, joining hands to overthrow an abusive and offensive political system.
  • Can’t we see in the deaths of those who have been killed—white and black—the tragedy of a lost life?  Can’t we reach out to one another and grieve together?  Can’t we find at least that one place in common, that place of love and loss, where we can be human together?
  • “I set out to prove a black man could receive a fair trial in the South, that we are all equal in the eyes of the law. That’s not the truth ’cause the eyes of the law are humanized, yours and mine, and until we can see each other as equals, justice is never going to be even-handed. It will remain nothing more than a reflection of our own prejudices. So until that day, we have a duty under God to seek the truth – not with our eyes, and not with our minds where fear and hate turn commonality into prejudice, but with our hearts – but we don’t know better.” Jake Brigand in A Time to Kill by John Grisham
  • Black lives matter.  Our children’s lives matter.  All lives matter.  And that’s what being pro-life really means.
  • If we are truly pro-life, shouldn’t we be the first to express both grief and grace?
  • The tragedy of the racial divide is that it simply isn’t personal enough.  For so many, it’s just an argument, a philosophy, a political position.  A debate on TV.  But these people are not really human lives to us.  Those lives remain distant from us.  And they are lives of a different color.  Now imagine it’s your own child.
  • If you see me, talk to me, or talk about me based on just one of the many stories that make up who I am, you reduce me to a single story.
  • We live in an America that wants to believe in a dream that doesn’t exist…In our search for hope, we tend to reach for what is too easy, sentimental, false, and cheap.
  • There is no task in heaven or on earth more difficult than changing the human heart…It requires a supernatural solution.
  • When we focus on another person’s skin, we miss the reality of our own sin.
  • God gives race a new meaning.  It’s called the human race.
  • It’s only by the power of God that our hearts can be transformed from the inside out.  It is only by the power of God that changed hearts will produce changed behavior and a changed society.
  • Only through a relationship with Jesus Christ will the earthly distinctions between us fade, as our oneness in him takes precedence over color, creed, and culture and as our allegiance to him couples us to make those who matter to him matter most to us.  This is our hope.
  • “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” Psalm 31:24

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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