Old Ship of Zion: The Afro-Baptist Ritual in the African Diaspora

Old Ship of Zion: The Afro-Baptist Ritual in the African Diaspora

by Walter F. Pitts
     
 

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This major new study of the African origins of African-American forms of worship is based on extensive fieldwork in black Baptist churches in rural Texas. Pitts, a scholar of anthropology and linguistics and a church pianist, played at and recorded numerous worship services over a period of five years. Through historical comparisons and linguistic analysis of this

Overview

This major new study of the African origins of African-American forms of worship is based on extensive fieldwork in black Baptist churches in rural Texas. Pitts, a scholar of anthropology and linguistics and a church pianist, played at and recorded numerous worship services over a period of five years. Through historical comparisons and linguistic analysis of this material, Pitts uncovers striking parallels between "Afro-Baptist" services and the religious rituals of Western and Central Africa, as well as other African-derived rituals in the United States Sea Islands, the Caribbean, and Brazil. Raising the concept of ritual frame, he reveals the binary structure underlying African and African-American worship: the somber melancholy of the first frame and the high emotion of the second frame are both essential to the fulfillment of that structure. In the process, Pitts creates a memorable portrait of this vital yet misunderstood aspect of African-American culture. With a Foreword by Vincent Wimbush.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A marvelous groundbreaking study of African American ritual practices in rural churches in Texas....Pitts's major contribution lies in his extensive cross-cultural comparisons between the Afro-Baptist rituals in Texas with those of traditional African religions in Central and Western Africa, including some of the African-derived religions such as Jamaican Cumina, Haitian Vodun, and Brazilian Candomble....A delight to read. Highly recommended for advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and scholars of religious studies, cultural anthropology, ethnomusicology, and African American studies."—Choice

"Undoubtedly, this is the best book in print on African American worship in the Baptist and Methodist traditions, and it should be required reading for all seminary students, pastors, and others interested in gaining helpful analytical tools with which to understand this unique phenomenon. I am confident that all students of African American religion will be greatly indebted to Professor Pitts, both for his constructive analysis and his many valuable insights that permeate virtually every page of the book. Further, teachers of homiletics, worship, field education, history, and ethics will find this book a most valuable resource."—Theology Today

"A fascinating and well-written book....Gives great insight into the religious life of Blacks in the South....An excellent example of how to study non-liturgical churches from a human sciences perspective."—Expository Times

"A serious and respectful analysis of symbols and meanings which comed from the deepest levels of culture...a magnificent piece of descriptive prose."—University of Colorodo at Boulder

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780198023883
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
02/29/2000
Series:
Religion in America Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
387 KB

Meet the Author

former Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Louisiana State University

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