Working the Spirit: Ceremonies of the African Diaspora

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"An appreciative and user-friendly book on religion in the African diaspora. Murphy's skillfully drawn portraits offer an inviting introduction to the religious worlds of Vodou, Candomble, Santeria, Revival Zion, and the Black Church" – David W. Wills, Amherst College

Offering portraits of five often misunderstood religions of the African diaspora--Vodun, Candomble, Revival Zion, Santeria, and the Black Church in the United States--the acclaimed author of Santeria examines the history and rituals of each, and explores their practice in contemporary America.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'A brilliant comparative study of the workings of the Spirit among practitioners of African-derived religions. . . . A 'must read' for students of African, Caribbean, Brazilian, and African American religions.' —Choice
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Blending personal observation with analysis of numerous secondary sources, Murphy, an associate professor of theology at Georgetown University, looks closely at five diasporan religions: Haitian voodoo; Brazilian candomble; Cuban and Cuban-American santeria; Jamaican Revival Zion; and the American ``Black Church.'' He is a sensitive and close observer, offering much valuable detail on the history and development of religious practice. Most important, though, is the final chapter in which Murphy explores the similarities among the religions, such as the interdependence of human and spirit, the relationship between the one God and the multiple spirits, and the retention of certain African inflections despite the obvious syncretism. It is the ``work of rhythm, song and movement'' that animates such traditions in public ceremonies, he writes. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Murphy ( Santeria: African Spirits in America , Beacon, 1988) casts his net wider in this work, examining and experiencing the commonalities of African traditions found in five cases of black religious rituals in the Western hemisphere. The reader is exposed to santeria in Haiti and Cuba, a Revival Zion church in Jamaica, candomble in Brazil, and African American church services in Washington, D.C. Running through all of them, he feels, is an African ``spirituality of incarnation'' through which each of them, despite their differences, celebrates a spiritual freedom from an oppressive world. Recommended for black studies and religion collections.-- Paul H. Thomas, Hoover Inst. Lib., Stanford, Cal.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807012215
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 1/28/1995
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 263
  • Sales rank: 710,692
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

 Joseph M. Murphy is the Paul J. (C'62) and Chandler M. Tagliabue Distinguished Professor in Interfaith Studies and Dialogue in the Department of Theology at Georgetown University. 

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Table of Contents

Note on Orthographies
1 Introduction 1
2 Haitian Vodou 10
3 Candomble in Brazil 44
4 Cuban and Cuban American Santeria 81
5 Revival Zion in Jamaica 114
6 The Black Church in the United States 145
7 Working the Spirit 176
Acknowledgments 201
Notes 203
Glossary 239
Selected Bibliography 247
Index 257
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