Review by Micha Boyett Hohorst, who says she is Texan in sweetness (born and raised), Northeastern in skepticism (her twenties), and San Franciscan in location (one year). She is Southern Baptist nurtured, Anglican by choice, Presbyterian by current church, and in love with Roman Catholic monastic and contemplative practice.
I remember the first time I left a family conversation, excused myself to the bathroom and cried. I think I was in 7th or 8th grade. Great Uncle Charlie had stopped by my Memaw’s house for a cup of coffee and a chat. I don’t know why I was there and I don’t remember anything about the conversation. All I remember is that my grandmother’s brother used the “N” word several times without blinking an eye. And no one around me seemed phased. But I, two generations removed, with only a fourth of the Texas drawl they owned, felt like I’d been punched in the gut. I looked around at my grandparents. Surely someone would take a stand. Surely they understood that of all the words that shouldn’t be used, this was the one that broke God’s heart the most. Nothing.
Whatever statement Uncle Charlie had been making about an entire race of people was over. They were on to the next topic. I wanted to scream. I wanted to tell him what I thought of him. How could he be a deacon in his church? How could he not know that God loves all people? I left the table. Took deep breaths and wiped my eyes in the bathroom. Came out and kept my mouth shut.
Racism is a deep rooted, twisted, broken story in our country. And it’s a story woven through the Christianity I was raised in. When I first read a descriptor of The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family, a book by Andrew Himes about the Fundamentalist movement, his grandfather, and his own faith journey, I knew I would resonate with his story. What I didn’t know was that Himes would offer me a glimpse into my own family’s history, something that would both infuriate me and also soften me toward Uncle Charlie with his cup of coffee in my grandma’s kitchen. Grace and truth.