Cracked Clay Pots {Book Club}

Cracked Clay Pots {Book Club}

I think we can all agree that brokenness within and between ethnicities exists. We don’t have to get very far in the Scripture narrative to see that! As author Sarah Shin describes in the start of chapter three in Beyond Colorblind, “The first sin of Adam and Eve—the distrust of God and idolatry of something else—drives a high-impact crack into the pottery art of what God intended.”

I’m grateful that we started last week with the beautiful things in our ethnicities and the cultures within them. Otherwise I’m pretty sure I would have just given up! We need both, the gifts that we bring to the table because of the diversity in our world, but also the realization of the areas that need healing.

As I’ve thought about this chapter this week and the different broken responses the author lists, I’ve been struck by the need for humility. I’ll just be honest, I’ve been so frustrated each time I pull up social media and see someone sharing their opinion on one side of the fence or the other about any of the current hot topics. So many are putting themselves up as an expert, causing me to question and, in my own pride, judge their opinion.

A friend and I were recently talking about how conversations have to start with a humble attitude. Are there issues and topics I feel strongly about? Yes, for sure! Do I know everything there is to know? Most definitely not.

I think this same attitude of humility helps prepare our hearts for the conversations about brokenness in our ethnic groups or background.

Shin describes five broken responses to the pain in our ethnicities: idolatry, racial and ethnic division, rejection of ethnicity, defining ourselves by our scars and self-punishment. Was there one of these responses that stuck with you the most? Or one that surprised you?

As cross-cultural workers, we are affected by both the brokenness of our own ethnic background as well as the one we live among. I’m curious what that feels like for you. Is it overwhelming? What do you do with the brokenness coming from different directions?

Personally while on the field, it was easier for me to focus on the scars and hurt in the country I was living in—what was right in front of me—and ignore the pain in and caused by my ethnicity in the US. I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong response, except to keep admitting we live in a broken world and desperately need Jesus to transform and heal. I’m glad those chapters in the book are coming.

I’d love to know what you thought of this chapter and of the book so far! Share your thoughts, experiences and questions in the comments.

You can watch the Intervarsity video that goes with the chapter HERE.

Here’s the schedule for the rest of the book:

October- Part 1

October 27th: Chapters 4 and 5

November- Part 2

November 3: Chapter 6

November 10: Chapters 7 & 8

November 17: Chapter 9

November 24: Chapter 10

Photo by KT on Unsplash


  1. Beth October 22, 2020

    I was really struck by how she focused on idolatry and distrust in God in this chapter as being at the root of what causes the cracks in our ethnic stories. On page 56 she writes, “No ethnic group has been exempt from the effects of sin. No ethnic group is unaffected by patterns of idolatry and interracial and intra-racial brokenness. We live in the reality of the scars and idolatries that make us bow to the idols that are worshiped in our ethnic cultures…..As a result, we are unable to ‘love God, and love neighbor’ fully because we have not examined our blindness.”

    This was really profound for me. She talked so bluntly about idolization, and it was very refreshing. To acknowledge that there idols in our cultures, especially idols in our Christian subcultures that often impede the gospel being shared cross-culturally and impede us from loving God and our neighbor is something I think is really, really important to talk about. But in my personal experience, I have found that coming to the table with other cross-cultural workers and questioning or trying to examine possible idols or blindness is something many people are not open to doing. It is like they are blind to their own blindness if that makes any sense. How do you began to talk about blindness if people cannot even admit the possibility that they could be blind to some things?

    I loved what she said about the steps of Confession, Lament, and Repentance. The importance of saying “Jesus, this doesn’t work. Can you show me a different way?” I wish we as a church were here so much more often. How much more impactful could we be as cross-cultural workers if we could come this humbly to the table?

    1. Sarah Hilkemann October 22, 2020

      Beth, thank you so much for sharing these thoughts!

      Blind to our blindness- that is so true in a lot of different contexts. I wonder in my own life where I am blind to the idols and strongholds that are getting in the way of my relationship with God and with others. Maybe that’s another way that humility comes in. We have to admit our own blindness and that we need help, more understanding, or change.

      Unfortunately we can’t force others to do that, although that would be nice sometimes, right? 🙂 I guess maybe we start with our own lives and keep inviting others to do that same.

  2. Rachel Kahindi October 22, 2020

    One thing Sara Shin mentioned towards the beginning of the chapter tied ethnic supremacy to the temptation in the Garden of Eden that led to the Fall – you will be like God. “Slavery, ethnic superiority, and the setting up of laws benefiting one people group at the expense of another all rest on the idea that one people can be supreme, or like God, above another.”

    1. Sarah Hilkemann October 22, 2020

      Yes, that’s such a hard but important way to look at it! In some ways it changes how I look at the historical narrative and what is happening currently. Things feel chaotic now and dark now, but since the fall there has been that struggle with superiority over another (group, person, etc.). Will we ever learn/change? 🙂

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