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(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

From the outset of The Color of Faith, Fumitaka Matsuoka expresses his belief that people of Western European descent in the United States practice an ongoing racism against all the other people living in the country. He contrasts this vision of racism with the Christian faith, which invites all people, regardless of race or ethnicity, to join. According to Matsuoka, although Christian religion is communitarian, inclusive, just, and righteous, American society is racist and segregated, and it caters to the interests of the dominant Caucasian population.

When discussing various theoretical and practical aspects of race in the United States, The Color of Faith uses politically correct academic jargon that may quickly deter readers not used to this language. Moreover, although the author is quick to critique conservative and moderate views, he does not exercise authorial censorship over extreme views, including the belief that a jury should not convict a person such as O. J. Simpson, even if they believe him to be guilty of murder, in order to send a signal against perceived racial oppression.

Rather controversially, Matsuoka states that the devil controls American societal institutions. He argues that hordes of fallen angels, the “powers and principalities” of evil, run U.S. institutions and have created a “monopoly of the imagination” that shapes public opinion and seeks to control how American people think. The agents of Satan thrive in “the hostile soil of larger institutions” that they have created, and the righteous are in an almost hopeless struggle against evil. For Matsuoka, racism runs rampant in an American society where Satan is manifested in all societal institutions.

Matsuoka seeks to validate this dark vision by referring to the testimony of twenty people in Chicago at a 1994 hearing that had church groups among its sponsors. By quoting from the hearing, sometimes repeating the same quotes within a few pages, The Color of Faith strives to paint a very dark vision of racial relations in the United States. Matsuoka quotes, for example, the belief of one writer that the health care needs of African Americans “differ from the needs of European Americans.”

Throughout The Color of Faith’s discourse on race and racism in the United States, which makes up about three quarters of the work, Matsuoka paints a grim picture. For him, membership in any race but the Caucasian comes with “memories of historical wrongs” suffered, never of past achievements or triumphs. While acknowledging that contemporary physical anthropology has severely questioned the scientific validity of the term “race” as used to categorize people, Matsuoka argues with those who believe that the general American populace fails to accept this scientific verdict and still clings to unscientific racist beliefs. Thus, according to Matsuoka, U.S. institutions such as the criminal justice system are still inherently racist.

Against his belief that the devil holds American institutions in a firm grip, toward the end of The Color of Faith, Matsuoka identifies some signals for Christian hope. Beginning with “Signs of Repeopling in Christian Churches,” the final twenty-five pages of his book are devoted to describing churches and communities that have risen against the powers and principalities of evil that Matsuoka views as running the United States. The Color of Faith praises Christian congregations that allow the “voices of the pain and bewailing of devalued people” to be heard. Matsuoka expresses his hope that out of this testimony, a new “indigenous religion” will arise and give freedom to all who participate in this process.

The Color of Faith closes by describing instances of redemption in which non-Caucasian congregations have offered reconciliation to European American Christians. Matsuoka places great hope in this “vision of reconciliation,” which he views as “a clear demonstration of the power and vitality of the Christian...

(The entire section is 983 words.)