Jasmine Holmes has been called everything from a cultural Marxist to an Uncle Tom. And other derogatory names I can’t repeat on this podcast. Thus is the fate of anyone who seeks to transcend our cultural, religious, political, and ethnic tribes.
She lays out a gospel-centered, transcendent agenda in her timely new book, Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope, published by InterVarsity Press. If I had to select a representative quote from the book, it might be this one: “The lure of relevancy is strong in any clique, but when it comes with a gag order on truth it isn’t worth it.”
The book compiles letters written by Holmes to her firstborn son, Wynn. She frames the book theologically by the already/not yet. You see that perspective in her hopes for Wynn. She writes:
Though this life will sometimes make him feel less than human, he is more than a conqueror through his Savior. Against all odds, we want to raise an optimist. Someone who knows that he might receive the worst that this world has to offer and still believes the best. Someone who cultivates glorious respites from the cruelty of the world by the grace of God.
Holmes contributes to The Gospel Coalition, among other publications. She teaches Latin and humanities in a classical Christian school in Jackson, Mississippi. And she joined me on Gospelbound to discuss all the easy topics from politics to race to police brutality to abortion and everything else you’re not supposed to bring up in polite company.
This episode of Gospelbound is sponsored by Southeastern Seminary, equipping today’s ministry leaders with the Word of God, a philosophical foundation, and care for the lost through their master’s program in ethics, theology, and culture and the PhD in public theology. Learn more at sebts.edu.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Collin Hansen: Jasmine Holmes has been called everything from a cultural Marxist to an Uncle Tom, and other derogatory names I can’t repeat on this podcast. Thus is the fate of anyone who seeks to transcend our cultural, religious, political, and ethnic tribes. She lays out a gospel centered, transcendent agenda in her timely new book, Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope, published by InterVarsity Press.
Collin Hansen: If I had to select a representative quote from the book, it might be this one: “The lure of relevancy is strong in any clique, but when it comes with a gag order on truth, it isn’t worth it.” The book compiles letters written by Holmes to her firstborn son, Wynn. She frames the book theologically by the already/not yet of the kingdom, and you see that perspective in her hopes for Wynn. She writes this: “Though this life will sometimes make him feel less than human, he is more than a conqueror through his savior. Against all odds, we want to raise an optimist, someone who knows that he might receive the worst that this world has to offer and still believes the best. Someone who cultivates glorious respites from the cruelty of the world by the grace of God.”
Collin Hansen: Holmes contributes to The Gospel Coalition, among other publications. She teaches Latin and humanities in a classical Christian school in Jackson, Mississippi, and she joins me now on Gospelbound to discuss all the easy topics from politics, to race, to police brutality, to abortion, and everything else you’re not supposed to bring up in polite company. With that, welcome. Thank you for joining me, Jasmine.
Jasmine Holmes: Thank you so much for having me.
Collin Hansen: All right, you write this, “Cultural differences are beautiful but they aren’t ultimate and I see one side of this discussion clamoring to flatten the differences and the other crying out for their supremacy.” Jasmine, when did you first realize you didn’t fit either side of these debates over politics, ethnicity, and culture?
Jasmine Holmes: I think growing up black in majority-white evangelical context, it kind of was always in the back of my mind. There were certain times where I felt like I had to hold back certain opinions or change certain opinions or downplay certain experiences so that I wouldn’t make other people uncomfortable, and the more that I learned how to speak out about those things and the more that I learned how to launch into conversations about them, the starker those differences started to become.
Collin Hansen: Yeah, we’re going to get into some of that. There’s plenty in here of you sharing that experience in ways that are not comfortable, but I just find incredibly important to listen to and to learn from. Now, your book’s epistolary format draws in readers to see through your eyes. It’s a very compelling mode, and for those of us from a different ethnicity, it helps us to gain perspective and grow in empathy. We don’t seem to have a lot of empathy right now, it seems for whatever reason, but how else can we all grow in empathy and our ability to understand people of different experiences and views?
Jasmine Holmes: I think first becoming good listeners and not being afraid of complexity. I know that so often the temptation is to find the quick and easy answer that’s going to get you out of the conversation and moving back into your comfort zone as soon as possible, that lure is really strong but not being afraid to just say, “You know what? I don’t know, but I’m open to learning, and we may not be able to tie off this conversation with a neat little bow. It may take several conversations and it may take a little back and forth, some scriptural diving.” I think that that is the best way to cultivate empathy and knowledge in these times.
Collin Hansen: I love that. It sounds so simple. It sounds so beautiful, and yet it’s so ignored. We assume, I guess that empathy is a good trait. Is it possible some people don’t actually think it’s important?
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah. I think that some people . . . and it gets into kind of some dicey territory because some people define empathy one way and some people define empathy another way, and I think that on one side of the ditch you have people who define empathy as kind of emotional terrorism. Like, “You have to feel exactly how I feel or you’re not exercising empathy,” or, “You have to agree with all of my conclusions or you’re not exercising empathy.”
Jasmine Holmes: Then on the other side of the ditch, you have people who believe that empathy is completely supreme and it’s the number one virtue that anybody could ever have. I think, as often is the case, the truth is somewhere in the middle. We are called to bear one another’s burdens as a church body, and that means knowing each other’s burdens and listening to each other’s burdens. It doesn’t mean excusing sin. It doesn’t mean submitting yourself to things that aren’t in the gospel. It doesn’t mean a whole litany of things, but what it does mean is that we have to at least take the time to listen and understand before we react, and we have to make sure that those reactions are steeped in Scripture.
Collin Hansen: What about complexity also seems like something that is obvious and yet not very popular?
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah, and I grew up in the heyday of those worldview tests that you could take that would put everybody into nice, neat little slots. I’m a teacher—my students don’t have any idea what this stuff is—but when I was in high school, it was just like you could find out your worldview and it all could fit into this neat little grid. It was great because it kind of taught us that if you come in contact with a Muslim, these your talking points, if you come in contact with the Mormon, these your talking points, and it just made everything so neat and tidy and safe.
Jasmine Holmes: Then I grew up and I started interacting with all these different people, and I realized that the script that I had seen as my safe haven wasn’t always how conversations or relationships went, and that’s really scary. It’s a lot less scary if everything is an easy grid that we can just kind of cycle through without any deeper thought or deeper connection. And when you get into those complex thoughts and complex connections, I think the tendency can be to go back to the safety of the easy labels and the easy grid.
Collin Hansen: Your book is difficult to categorize in that where I think there’s plenty in this book to make just about all of us uneasy, maybe a little bit upset, or perhaps at least a little bit confused there. It helps that I know you and I’ve known you for a while, and I have the context there. Not everybody’s going to have that privilege when they’re reading the book, but so much of the book just hit me personally. I mean, we connect with you so much as an author, but knowing you and Phillip just personally, it hit in other ways. I hadn’t recalled that Philando Castile was shot by police in the neighborhood where you carried your son to term. How did that tragedy frame your motherhood and this book?
Jasmine Holmes: Up until that point there were a lot of different shootings and instances that had kind of confused me, made me uneasy, made it really scary to say things on social media because I didn’t know what camp I was going to be lumped into, so everything up until that point had been really carefully calculated on my part to just be careful not to pick a side, not to get too emotional, just to be very, very measured.
Jasmine Holmes: When Philando Castile was shot near St. Anthony where my husband and I lived for a whole year, the whole time we lived in Minneapolis, my immediate reaction was this gut punch of, this is really real. This is happening next door. This is happening outside of our home in our tiny little neighborhood. It was really close that time and it caused me to think about it in a lot of different ways, and I think just having my son in general has caused me to think about a lot of these things in different ways. Realizing the ways that he’s going to be viewed by certain people, the ways that he’s going to grow up because the color of his skin, and just seeing a lot of my own experience mirrored in his life and reflecting on my own experiences and the ones that I don’t want him to have has been really impactful.
Collin Hansen: Yeah, I was surprised. My son was born in 2015, I was surprised by how much I changed. Things that I watched, things that I was interested in, things that I could read about before, probably should have read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road before I had a son. I think that probably would’ve been a wise decision.
Jasmine Holmes: Oh, my goodness. Yes.
Collin Hansen: But yeah, it really changes things. I hope that my wife and I raise our kids to grow up like you, Jasmine, and let me explain what I mean by that. My children are also going to grow up knowing what their father wrote about and advocated. I’m a public figure in that sense, similar to how you grew up then. And I don’t necessarily expect my kids to agree with me on everything, but of course I want them to walk with the Lord. And here’s what you write to your son, which I loved:
Collin Hansen: “Your flight pattern may not lead you to vote like us, attend the same church, or land on the same side of an ideological issue that we do, but we certainly hope it leads you to prize the word of God above all else and to use it as your standard for what to believe instead of taking the easy way out and following in our footsteps.” So give me a little bit of advice. What can I do as a parent to foster that kind of healthy respect and disagreement that you model in this book, including also with your own father?
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah, I mean and that’s really where it is. It’s been modeled so well for me by my own dad. I remember when Phillip first started coming around, we would sit at the dinner table and he would just look . . . like he would be shell shocked, because we just argued. We would just go back and forth. We’d just pick fights with each other. Like, “That doesn’t make any sense.”
Jasmine Holmes: “Well, that doesn’t make any sense.”
Jasmine Holmes: “Well, I think …” And Philip was just like, “Whoa, this is weird. Are we okay? Are you mad?” And my mom just kind of leans over and she’s like, “This is what they do. It’s fine. Like they love each other. This is fun for them.” And my dad always really cultivated that healthy sense of being able to debate, and there’ve been but a few times, they’re getting more and more, which I’m very proud of, but there’ve been a few times or he’ll just stop and smile at me and be like, “That’s a really good point. I hadn’t considered that.” And those are like the crowning moments of my life where I’m like, “He said it was a good point and he hadn’t considered it. I’m so smart. This is beautiful.”
Jasmine Holmes: He really did such a good job of just fostering that relationship with me and making it safe to disagree well and teaching me how to disagree well. I don’t talk to everybody like I talk to my dad, because like I said, we just kind of . . . we are no-holds-barred when we’re debating with each other and we make everybody really uncomfortable. But he taught me how to translate that to other people in other relationships, and I’m just really, really grateful. I think, again, motherhood has made me really grateful for the way that my parents raised me.
Collin Hansen: So raising your children not to just know what to think, but how to think? That’d be a good way of putting it?
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah. Yeah. And my mom, that’s a good example. I was homeschooled and every time I asked my mom a question, she would be like, “I don’t know, you should look it up.” And I’d be like, “I’m good.” And she’d say, “All right, I’m going to expect an essay about that by the end of the week.” So I’d be like, “How are Tupperware containers made?” Just random. She’d be like, “You should figure that out. I want you to write a speech about it.” And it was horrible sometimes, but really good. They never gave us the answers easily.
Collin Hansen: Speaking of no easy answers, let’s talk about abortion. I agree with you that it’s genocide. You’re pretty clear about that in the book. I do not know how to help solve this evil that disproportionately afflicts African Americans, and I’m also aggrieved by how this issue dominates our politics in such a way that seems to excuse just about anything else Republicans might do. What’s the way forward?
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah, it’s again, I know I’m like a broken record, but realizing the complexity of the situation, I teach eighth grade and the other day we were sitting around and talking about what … wrote a short story about this society that has a sacrifice a kid in order to be like perfectly happy, and we were talking about abortion and my eighth graders are just like … they cannot fathom at their little Christian school in their little Christian world why anybody would ever choose to abort a child, and they have a very simplistic understanding of life and death, and that’s beautiful. I think that it’s wonderful.
Jasmine Holmes: There is an innocence about them, there is a zeal about them, and I don’t want to snatch it away from them as we talk about these issues. Also, I want them to understand that as they grow older, that truth does not change, but the circumstances around them and around that truth get more and more hazy and more and more difficult, and the number of people that we have to love and consider as we talk about abortion and the number of people that we have to forebear with and think about as we talk about abortion just gets more and more complex and bigger and bigger the older that we get and the more that we start to understand life.
Jasmine Holmes: It’s so hard to balance those two things of, abortion is murder period. And I wanted to be very clear about that in my book, because I feel like it can be really easy to shy away from that terminology and to shy away from just the scope of abortion and how many lives it’s taken because we want to be compassionate towards people who feel like they don’t have any other choice, but I want to be compassionate towards people who feel like they don’t have any other choice and equally compassionate to the lives that are being snuffed out because they feel like they don’t have any other choice, and it’s so hard. I don’t have a final hard and fast answer. I just know that I want to be a woman who is constantly seeking to make sense of this issue in a way that values the life of women who feel like this is the only decision that they can make and the lives of the children who are victims in this.
Collin Hansen: Yeah. If I thought, Jasmine, that I had easy answers to life, then I moved to the Deep South and I learned that I don’t. It’s been a very humbling experience for me, especially related to these kinds of issues right there. When people will ask me things about schooling, for example, and they’re like, “What is the problem? Let’s just fix this.” And I think, “I mean, just name an issue and it’s a problem.” I’m not sure why we have one group that says fatherhood is the issue and another group that says that inequity in funding is the issue, because plainly it’s both. I mean, I don’t know where one leads off and one takes up, but plainly they’re both problems, and I’m not sure.
Collin Hansen: Maybe we put a priority on one, maybe as Christians we put a priority on fatherhood, but I don’t know why that would exclude us from looking at the other political options. So I think that’s a reason why I resonated so strongly with your book, as you’re saying here already that there is so much complexity even when there are clear moral issues at stake and without compromising those moral views.
Collin Hansen: I think another area that’s hit me really hard since moving to the South has been on the phrase, just preach the gospel, when it comes to social ills like racism. So here’s what I see and I’m sure you see the same thing, living in the Deep South churches everywhere that preached the gospel while they practiced segregation, and I’m just wondering, is this just a total cynical sleight of hand? This is what you say about that phrase: “A catchall for every good work Christians should be doing or as a silencer for anything too difficult to think about.” I don’t know, Jasmine, if people just don’t know the history, they don’t understand the implications that discipleship as commanded by Jesus and the Great Commission. If I’m picking up some clues for you in the book, your critique of the Great Awakening suggests that you see a deep problem that is inherent to evangelicalism. Help us understand where you’re coming from there.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah, goodness. There’s so much there. I think the phrase … I’ve talked to people before about the racism of the South coupled with the “solidness” of their churches. And people will say things to me like, “Well, yeah, but they just, they didn’t preach the gospel thoroughly enough.” And my response is always, “How can you preach the gospel more thoroughly than Jonathan Edwards?” Like honestly, the message of Christ coming to earth as a baby, growing up into a man, dying on the cross and ransoming a people for himself. Jonathan Edwards got that. I mean, and preached it so well in a way that … I read his words and they resonate, and he was, to use a phrase from the 90s, it’s not used much anymore, sold out for Christ. I mean completely, but he was still part of the cultural issues of his day.
Jasmine Holmes: I think that one can preach the truth of the gospel without completely walking out the gospel’s implications. And I think there’s a few things going on. I think that some people just don’t realize how bad slavery was and how bad the slave trade was and how just completely people’s view of black Americans during that time was just steeped in Darwinism and racism and all of this ignorance. I don’t think that people really get the scope and the depth of the hypocrisy that was going on, where you had men who are throwing their coats over the mud for white Southern ladies while treating black women like animals. I mean it’s just, there’s so much cognitive dissonance and so much misunderstanding of what actually was going on.
Jasmine Holmes: So I think, and maybe this is just me being optimistic, I think part of it is that people don’t realize just how terrible things were in the South. We have a very rosy view and we don’t really think about it much. We’re just like, “Oh yeah, that was bad. Yeah, it happened. It’s over.” So then I think that people also just don’t … they don’t want to live in the past, but they also don’t realize how much the past impacts and informs our present.
Collin Hansen: Yeah, that’s kind of where I’ve landed as well, Jasmine, where I’ve been trying to understand how much pushback do I get when I’m teaching about that past. And so far, especially when I’m speaking to younger audiences, I don’t get much pushback at all. I think that probably indicates simple ignorance. People just don’t know. They don’t know how bad slavery was. They don’t know how bad segregation was. They don’t even know the problem.
Collin Hansen: I don’t know why, and this was a genuine question. I didn’t know how to answer it. You answered it way better than I’ve ever thought of before. We can of course substitute Jonathan Edwards who owned a slave. We don’t know much about that. We can substitute George Whitfield, one of the most effective evangelists of all time, did not just own a slave, but was in fact instrumental in introducing slavery to the colony and then later state of Georgia against the law at the time, and doing this for seemingly “Christian” purposes to be able to help to build his orphanage and to make it solvent there.
Collin Hansen: So the historical example cannot be disputed there. Nobody disagrees that they didn’t preach the gospel. We know they were so deeply culturally compromised. There’s something going on. So I guess, let me push into that, press into that a little bit more, into some dangerous territory there. Is there something inherently wrong then with evangelicalism that allows that to keep happening?
Jasmine Holmes: I think there’s something inherently wrong with humanity that allows that to keep happening.
Collin Hansen: It’s why I asked. Yeah.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah. It’s again, and I keep bringing up my eighth graders, my day job is teaching medieval history to eighth graders, and we just finished learning about the crusades, and they were asking me … they were very disturbed. So wait, the pope said that if you went on the crusades and you were automatically … they’re like, “Why did they believe this? Why didn’t they just read their Bible?” So I was like, “They didn’t have their Bibles at home.” They were just like, “What? How is this part of …” And they’re like, “Well, that’s like Catholic history.” I’m like, “That’s our history. That’s the history of Christianity.”
Jasmine Holmes: And I just think that human nature, we are fallen people and our flesh will find a way to gratify its desires. We’re compromised, and it’s just this … I’m trying to be careful with my words because it’s not to say that there’s not problems inherent in Evangelicalism, but as a layman, I’m more concerned with the problems inherent in my own heart.
Collin Hansen: Yeah, no, that’s wise. I’ll take it a step further then and say that there is a danger inherent to evangelicalism that pushes for decision-ism over discipleship, and anything that separates those two as if they’re not intimately connected in the ongoing Christian life does seem to be especially susceptible to these kinds of problems, where you push so much for a certain kind of experience at the detriment of teaching people to obey everything that Jesus commanded. It’s almost like there’s a lot in the Sermon on the Mount that seems pretty relevant to these issues. But if you’re only ever preaching John 3:16 or everything always boils down to some sort of evangelistic appeal with John 3:16 then perhaps we’re not really working out the implications of discipleship, as if those are somehow optional. I don’t know there’s anything in the Bible that would indicate that somehow those were intended to be treated as optional add-ons to a central decision experience.
Collin Hansen: And I don’t think that has to be inherently undermining to evangelicalism. I think that can be evangelicalism in its fullness, but that’s not a lot of what we often see. I sometimes see, Jasmine, or hear someone say or imply, and it’s usually in the context of systemic racism or injustice, that we have moved beyond overt, direct racism, and it’s a little bit similar to what we’ve been talking about here. I don’t know if people just aren’t aware. I don’t know if they’ve just lived in different places, and I hope that their experiences are not like my experiences.
Collin Hansen: But it just makes me wonder. Do they just not know? And again, your experience writing about in this book certainly also seems to suggest otherwise, that we have not moved beyond that. So what makes it difficult for people to just hear plain testimonies like yours that I just … is agonizing. I’m sorry. I just … it’s agonizing to read about the things that people have done and said to you.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah, I mean it’s hard to experience. What’s also hard is that … I get a lot of pushback sometimes from people when I tell specific stories because they’re just like, “Well, why are you telling me … why are you telling that story? Why are you bringing that up?” And honestly, the answer is because I feel like that personal testimony is important because we can’t sweep under the rug, that overt racism still does happen.
Jasmine Holmes: I share those stories not as an attempt to make people feel bad or to make people feel sorry for me or to, you know. I have a wonderful community of people who surround me when I need to feel held and loved. I can go to them, but the reason why I share is just for the sake of giving a testimony of the fact that these things still happen. These phrases are still said, and that they’re impactful. They really do shape the way that I view the world and viewed my evangelical context at times.
Jasmine Holmes: It’s taken a lot of work and a lot of healing to get over some of those things. I’m committed to my church. I’m committed to the other Christians in my life, the other Christians that I’m surrounded with, but that doesn’t always make it easy to overcome the things that have been said and done to me in the past. I think that again, it’s just easier to believe that these things don’t happen anymore. It’s more comfortable to believe that these things don’t happen anymore, and it just allows us to kind of not have to dwell on things that are bad or sad and living in the South, we don’t like to dwell on things that are bad or sad or uncomfortable. We’re really good at sweeping things under the rug, so I honestly think that, not for malicious intent, but just for the sake that we don’t know how else to just move past it without experiencing the awkwardness. We just don’t want to talk about it.
Collin Hansen: Yeah. The way I describe our approach historically is, and I think this applies in the South especially, that history is like your grandmother. Arrogance is thinking that she can do no right, naivete is thinking that she can do no wrong, maturity is realizing that you’re a lot like her. And I say that because, going back to what you had said earlier, it would be very helpful for people to realize that these are less generational problems and more human problems.
Collin Hansen: But yeah, we’re worse in some ways that we can clearly identify, but they’re more of human condition issues than they are just merely sociologically conditioned or societally conditioned. And that’s just one thing I found very helpful is to remind myself that I probably would not have stood out. If I lived in Birmingham in 1963, I probably would not have spoken out, just statistically speaking it’s just not very likely that I would have. That’s an effort to try to aim towards some humility and some maturity recognizing that there’s probably something like that today as well.
Collin Hansen: One of the things that you taught me in the book, and we’re discussing with Jasmine Holmes, author of Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope. You taught me about your son not subjecting himself to the abuse of others. Really interesting part there. And I think Christians, including myself, get confused on this point. You also write about how you grew up thinking you couldn’t ever show anger or hurt when you were enduring prejudice. Can you tell us a little bit more about what your hope is here for your son?
Jasmine Holmes: My hope for my son is that he would be able to grow up knowing how to process his emotions and not how to stifle his emotions. Growing up as a young black woman in predominantly white spaces, and I want to be so careful here because my parents did the very best that they could and they wanted the best for me and they did not want me to experience undue prejudice. So the way that they handled that was the way that a lot of black parents handle that, which is I was held to a higher standard than my white peers.
Jasmine Holmes: I remember my mom distinctly looking at me and saying, “Look, Becky, she could do that. And they think that that’s cute, or they think that that’s this, and they think that that’s that. Jasmine, she can’t do that. It’s not the same for her.” And I understand completely where my mom was coming from. So often she really was protecting me from the way that people viewed me and the way that people saw me. At the same time, I don’t want that for my son. I want him to be able to experience childhood to the fullest the same way that his friends are often able to experience it, and sometimes that means measuring my reaction to the things that he does when I want to overreact because, “Oh, you’re a little black boy, you can’t do X. It’s different than when your white peers do it.”
Jasmine Holmes: I want him to just be able to just experience life in a way that is not hampered because of the color of his skin and because of the threat of what other people might think of him. The other day he was at his … there’s a daycare on campus at the school that I work at, and he hit a teacher. She told him no, and he like slapped her hand, and I went to pick him up and they told me, and I … well I was just undone. I was just like, “Oh, my gosh. I can’t.” So I went to my supervisor and I was like, “I just, I don’t know what to do. What’d you do?” And she said, “I just talked to him and so and so and so and so.”
Jasmine Holmes: And I was like, “Well, I don’t know. I feel like I really need to bring the hammer down.” And she was like, “Okay, normal reaction of a mom, but also what’s behind this?” And I was like, “He’s the only little black boy in the class. He can’t be hitting.” And she was like, “Okay, he can be hitting because he’s learning and he’s developing and he’s growing.” And it’s so hard for me to talk myself off of that ledge, but I want to do it for his sake, because I want him to be able to learn just like everybody else and not to have that threat in his life of, “I’m a black man. It’s different for me.”
Collin Hansen: Reminds me a lot, Jasmine, of the illustration I go back to all the time from King and Letter from Birmingham Jail about Funtown and what it’s like with your kids and how he’s responding there, of course to people who say, “Just wait. Just hold on. Just wait.” And he says, “You’re not the one that has to watch these waves of inferiority wash over your child when you have to tell her she doesn’t get to go to Funtown and why. She doesn’t get to go to Funtown.” So I mean, just the acknowledgement there that is part of the black experience in America that you have to explain these things to your kids, but to long for a time when you don’t, and even to demand a time when you don’t, which is another important part of that letter.
Collin Hansen: I want to ask one last question here with Jasmine Holmes, author of Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope, and I look up to you and Phillip so much and you call yourselves or you kind of named your desire to be transcendent, and I do see that. I see that in you guys, and like I said, that’s why I look up to you, and you write this: “We want to speak out above the din, calling our brothers and sisters in Christ to a higher biblical standard that makes them unafraid of admitting where the other side is right, and pointing out where they are both wrong.”
Collin Hansen: Let’s end on this note, Jasmine. What’s the first thing, one thing that somebody can do to break this kind of tribal deadlock in our culture and politics and transcend it with the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Jasmine Holmes: Measuring our responses to hot button issues by the word of God and not necessarily by what our camp is already touting as the party line. When someone says something like institutional racism, listening, figuring out what that is, and finding out historically what’s going on, what’s the big picture, and then applying the transcendent and beautiful picture and truth of the gospel of Christ to whatever they find and being willing to communicate whatever they find with the humility of someone who knows that this world is not their home.
Collin Hansen: Yeah. Well, I think first step there, Jasmine, is just helping people to understand that maybe their party line isn’t always basing their decisions off the word of God. I mean, if we even get to that step, that’ll be progress, but I think in many cases we don’t. Okay. I’m going to add, that wasn’t last question. I lied. One last … I’m going to test out a new feature on the Gospelbound podcast, writers are readers. Best book you’ve read lately, Jasmine Holmes, and why?
Jasmine Holmes: Best book that I’ve read lately.
Collin Hansen: Don’t overthink it. I just want to hear, that’s why I’m springing it on you.
Jasmine Holmes: I know. I know. I need to just spit it out. Gosh. I read a book with my book club called Ask Again, Yes, I think it was called, by Mary Beth Keane, and it was a story about family and a story about motherhood and relationship,s and I read it with my book club. They came over to my house and we talked about it, and it led to so many good discussions about mental health and motherhood and what it means to be a good person. It was a really impactful book. I don’t know why. There’s just something about the story that just grabbed all of us.
Collin Hansen: Yeah. I’m going to make this a new feature for GospelBound. It just occurred to me here, of course you’re such a reader. You write about those kinds of things and you’re such a widespread thinker, so I thought you’d be a good person to start that out. But I think a lot of people don’t realize that, how much reading has to go into writing, and also that books catch us in different ways when you just ask that question. Because I can give you a list of the last, you know what I mean? Through Goodreads or whatever, the last 30 books, but there’s a couple of them that just stick, stick with you there and they don’t necessarily have to be Christian books, but they land with you there. So thanks for being the first test case on that feature for Gospelbound.
Collin Hansen: My guest has been Jasmine Holmes, author of Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope, it is published by InterVarsity Press. Jasmine, thanks for writing this book and thanks for joining me on Gospelbound.
Jasmine Holmes: Thank you for having me.