Terror And Triumph / Edition 1

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Given the unique history of African Americans and their diverse religious traditions-seen in black Christianity, the Nation of Islam, Voodoo, and others-is there one fundamental meaning to black religion in America? What is the heart and soul of African American religious life?

As a leader in both black religious studies and theology, Anthony Pinn has probed the dynamism and variety of African American religious expressions. In this work, which he also delivered as the Edward Cadbury Lectures at the University of Birmingham, England, he searches out the basic structure of black religion, tracing the black religious spirit in its many historical manifestations. Pinn finds in the terrors of enslavement of black bodies and subsequent oppressions the primal experience to which the black religious impulse provides a perennial and cumulative response. Oppressions entailed the denial of personhood and creation of an object: the Negro. Slave auctions, punishments, and later, lynchings created an existential dread but also evoked a quest, a search, for complex subjectivity or authentic personhood that still fuels black religion today. Pinn's promising work offers a major new understanding of what it means to be black and religious in the United States.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This pair of books both shows the breadth of African American religious experience and seeks to make sense of the ways that experience has functioned in black consciousness and American life. Public radio and television journalist Williams and Dixie (African American studies, Indiana Univ.) have teamed up to present This Far by Faith, a companion volume to a forthcoming PBS documentary series. They tell anew the stories of African Americans who have drawn on faith for the strength to challenge slavery, segregation, and racism. Clear, engaging narratives recount the stories of familiar and unfamiliar figures, from early slave rebellions to the 20th-century migration of thousands of Southern blacks to the cities of the North, from a Muslim slave's attempt to return to his native African tribe to Christian hip-hop music. The diversity of black religious experience is evident-including conjurers, Christians, Muslims, and a Buddhist pop star. Brief topical articles and captioned illustrations supplement the main text, creating a balanced, readable, and nuanced introduction to the power of faith to sustain the African American community. Making sense of how the heritage of slavery and racism has shaped African American identity, both personal and communal, is the task of Pinn (religious studies, Macalester Coll.; Varieties of African American Religious Experience). His book is more academic than This Far by Faith but no less compelling. First Pinn stresses two key rituals of terror that constituted black identity in American society: the slave auction and lynching. He then examines overt (black Christian) and covert (Nation of Islam) methods of "waging war," resisting pressures that construct black identity in racist terms. The most original portion of the book, however, is the third. Here the reader enters the contemporary conversation among African American religious scholars. In contrast to scholars who stress the dominant role of the black Christian church, Pinn argues that the religious fringes of black communities also play a significant role in shaping black religious identity, one that wrestles with dehumanization and seeks triumph over an oppressive past and present. Even in a crowded market niche, both of these books belong on every library's shelves.-Steve Young, McHenry Cty. Coll., Crystal Lake, IL Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780800636012
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress, Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/5/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Table of Contents

1 "Look, a Negro!" How the New World African Became an Object of History 1
Pt. 1 Constructing Terror
2 "How Much for a Young Buck?" Slave Auction and Identity 27
3 Rope Neckties: Lynching and Identity 52
Pt. 2 Waging War
4 Houses of Prayer in a Hostile Land: Responses of Black Religion to Terror 81
5 Covert Practices: Further Responses of Black Religion to Terror 108
6 "I'll Make Me a World": Black Religion as Historical Context 133
Pt. 3 Seeking Triumph
7 Crawling Backward: Toward a Theory of Black Religion's Center 157
8 Finding the Center: Methodological Issues Considered 180
Notes 201
Selected Bibliography 253
Index 265
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