(PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY) – I have a terrible habit of accumulating books that sit far too long on the bookshelf before getting cracked open. One of them currently is "America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America," by evangelical Christian author Jim Wallis.
Despite not having read a word of this book yet, the title has spent a lot of time rolling around my mind. I think of it often. I chew on it the way others might chew on gun or perhaps a mantra. I take the expression of racism as America's original sin and apply it like a yardstick to other issues I am contemplating to see if it fits. What I have found has changed my perspective profoundly.
Even if I never end up reading a single word from this book, it will still have had a significant impact on me.
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At first, I thought the title was an exaggeration. Surely racism is one of many sins in this country, but calling it our "original sin" seemed like an overreach. After all, we have no shortage of sins in the USA. I used to think racism was an issue that only impacted certain racial and ethnic groups, and I reasoned that no matter how bad those issues might be for those groups, other issues were more important simply because they impacted all of society in a broader way—militarism and poverty being two glaring examples. Well, I am here to admit that I was quite wrong in this! The more I delve into different social issues, the more I see the unmistakable footprint of racism underneath almost all of them. Contrary to my earlier thoughts, racism actually involves and impacts all of us. It's just everywhere and it's ugly.