12/26/16 Deandre about 25
He’s young, black, and angry. I had reached out to Deandre on a southside Chicago street, asking for his thoughts on eternity. Like so many young men in their 20’s, black or white, he has rejected belief in God with nothing to replace it with. A big part of this rejection is that he believes nothing can be trusted, that all the history presented to him has been nothing but lies. In his eyes I as a white man am part of the problem, having manipulated history for our own benefit and in order to keep people of color in their place. He angrily lashed out at a litany of issues, with belief only in a narrative that says there is no history to hold on to and that has him always seeing himself as a victim.
But are the issues really so black and white? I challenged Deandre’s race-based accusations. “As a Christian, the Bible teaches me there is only one race, the human race. But the devil wants us to be divided. We really aren’t that different you know.” I showed him my hands. “My skin isn’t really white, and yours isn’t black. We’re just different shades of brown. Of course there are language and cultural differences between people. But we really have a lot more in common than our differences. One thing true of all people is we all have a conscience that God holds us accountable to.”
We would have had a good conversation about the Gospel, but Deandre’s mistrust of history – any history, preempted that and caused him to question any biblical assertions I could make. He had grown up in a churchgoing family, but Christianity is rooted in history and without a basic trust in historical truth he has no historical context and only sees religion as one of many ways those in power manipulate the masses. Ultimately Deandre directed his anger toward God, blaming Him for not answering prayer and demanding that He prove Himself to him and create a more just society. He sounded a lot like the 20-something white atheists I’ve been talking to lately, who use Christian standards to judge the world for not being Christian enough. Both white atheists and fiery Black Lives Matter proponents like Deandre judge society with an attitude of self-righteousness. They discredit the past and have no hope for the future. They might make some valid points about the faults of society, but lose their credibility when they fail to judge themselves in the process.