Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Documentary: A Time for Burning

This was something I accidentally came across, recorded, and just got around to watching last night. To be perfectly honest, there was no description information on the tv, so I thought it might have been about the Salem Witch Trials or something. Turns out it was about race relations in 1960's Omaha. Slightly different.

It was very, very good. Fairly short, maybe 50 minutes. The basic premise is this: A Lutheran pastor (Rev. L. William Youngdahl) wants to begin integrating his white church. Now, it's not like he picked up a couple of black families and plopped them into his congregation with no warning. He was going through the board, the proper channels - what he wanted to do, as a first step, was set up a sort of exchange program. Put two or three of their families together with two or three families from the black Lutheran church in town. Let them get to know each other. Because, as he says in the film, most of his congregants don't even *know* anyone who's not white.

It goes about as well as you'd expect, and the pastor winds up resigning. There's no violence or anything, at least not that's recorded in the film, or anything that I could read about it. It's just... well. I'm one, I think, if at all possible, everyone should read/listen/watch a thing, rather than have it described to them, or even read a summary. I was going to just recommend that, should you get the chance, you watch it, but then I found the whole thing on YouTube.

So, here you go:

Also, here's the link to the Wikipedia article on it: A Time for Burning. I know, Wikipedia, but I read the article, and it matches what I found other places, and has it in the nicest, most concise format.

And this is the quote that stuck with me (it also happens to be quoted in the Wikipedia article - which just proves how striking it is): "This one lady said to me, pastor, she said, I want them to have everything I have, I want God to bless them as much as He blesses me, but, she says, pastor, I just can't be in the same room with them, it just bothers me."


  1. Sounds like an interesting documentary. That quote at the end is telling. Hmmm. I sometimes wonder what people will be like when they get to heaven and realize not everyone there is the same ethnicity. How are people going to get past their racism for eternity? Argh.


  2. Susanne,

    It was a very good documentary.

    I know! I actually had to rewind to relisten to that part, because I was sure I must have misheard. But no...

    *sigh* I should hope, by that point, a person has realised that things like skin color make abso-freakin-lutely no difference at all.


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