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The instant New York Times bestseller and companion book to the PBS series."Absolutely brilliant . . . A necessary and moving work." --Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., author of Begin Again "Engaging. . . . In Gates's telling, the Black church shines bright even as the nation itself moves uncertainly through the gloaming, seeking justice on earth--as it is in heaven." --Jon Meacham, New York Times Book Review From the New York Times bestselling author of Stony the Road and one of our most important voices on the African American experience comes a powerful new history of the Black church as a foundation of Black life and a driving force in the larger freedom struggle in America.
For the young Henry Louis Gates, Jr., growing up in a small, residentially segregated West Virginia town, the church was a center of gravity--an intimate place where voices rose up in song and neighbors gathered to celebrate life's blessings and offer comfort amid its trials and tribulations. In this tender and expansive reckoning with the meaning of the Black Church in America, Gates takes us on a journey spanning more than five centuries, from the intersection of Christianity and the transatlantic slave trade to today's political landscape. At road's end, and after Gates's distinctive meditation on the churches of his childhood, we emerge with a new understanding of the importance of African American religion to the larger national narrative--as a center of resistance to slavery and white supremacy, as a magnet for political mobilization, as an incubator of musical and oratorical talent that would transform the culture, and as a crucible for working through the Black community's most critical personal and social issues. In a country that has historically afforded its citizens from the African diaspora tragically few safe spaces, the Black Church has always been more than a sanctuary. This fact was never lost on white supremacists: from the earliest days of slavery, when enslaved people were allowed to worship at all, their meetinghouses were subject to surveillance and destruction. Long after slavery's formal eradication, church burnings and bombings by anti-Black racists continued, a hallmark of the violent effort to suppress the African American struggle for equality. The past often isn't even past--Dylann Roof committed his slaughter in the Mother Emanuel AME Church 193 years after it was first burned down by white citizens of Charleston, South Carolina, following a thwarted slave rebellion. But as Gates brilliantly shows, the Black church has never been only one thing. Its story lies at the heart of the Black political struggle, and it has produced many of the Black community's most notable leaders. At the same time, some churches and denominations have eschewed political engagement and exemplified practices of exclusion and intolerance that have caused polarization and pain. Those tensions remain today, as a rising generation demands freedom and dignity for all within and beyond their communities, regardless of race, sex, or gender. Still, as a source of faith and refuge, spiritual sustenance and struggle against society's darkest forces, the Black Church has been central, as this enthralling history makes vividly clear.
- ISBN-13: 9781984880338
- ISBN-10: 1984880330
- Publisher: Penguin Press
- Publish Date: February 2021
- Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Page Count: 304
Glimmers of hope during dark times
Inspiration has been hard to come by in a year marked by a devastating pandemic, economic hardship and shocking political turmoil. If your faith has been challenged, these books will encourage hope, offer guidance and provide glimpses of light amid the shadows.
Dusk, Night, Dawn
With her characteristic deadpan humor, Anne Lamott shepherds us through the darkness in Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage. In short, affectionately candid chapters, Lamott meditates on the beauty of nature, the power of forgiveness, the wonder of love and kindness and the benefit of recognizing specks of hope all around us. When she’s in an airport, exasperated by flight delays, for example, she notices a young girl’s absorption in some hair ribbons. Suddenly it dawns on her how we can recover our faith in life “in the midst of so much bad news and dread, when our children’s futures are so uncertain: We start in the here and now. . . . We start where our butts and feet and minds are. We start in these times of incomprehensible scientific predictions, madness and disbelief, aging and constantly nightmarish airport delays, and we look up and around for brighter ribbons.”
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Anne Lamott shares some ideas for how to get by when the world seems especially dark.
While Lamott explores how we restrict ourselves with limited ideas about grace, sin and forgiveness, Diana Butler Bass focuses on the ways we put Jesus in a cage, confining the universality of his life and message behind bars of dogmatism. In her moving Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence, Bass attempts to answer the age-old question, “Who is Jesus really?” Theologians have long responded to this question by focusing on either the human Jesus of history or the divine Christ of faith, but Bass writes that neither history nor theology, “neither intellectual arguments nor ecclesiastical authority elucidates the Jesus I have known.” She shares wonderful stories of finding Jesus during every stage of her life, noting that experiencing Jesus as a friend during one’s teenage years will be very different from experiencing Jesus as a friend in middle age. In this refreshing book, Bass tells readers of a Jesus “who shows up consistently and when we least expect him. Freeing Jesus means finding him along the way.”
Learning to Pray
Each of these books highlights practices that can heal fractured relationships or bring us closer to God, such as prayer. However, our understanding of prayer is often as constricted as our understanding of Jesus. In his monumental and elegantly insightful book Learning to Pray: A Guide for Everyone, James Martin, SJ, teaches a simple but enduring lesson: “Prayer is a personal relationship with God.” He gently guides the reader through reasons to pray and offers a richly detailed history of various types of prayer, from petitionary prayer and centering prayer to nature prayer and lectio divina, or praying with sacred texts. Martin reminds us of the many reasons we pray, including to praise God and to unburden ourselves. Because we often think of prayer as asking for favors from God, or as limited to a certain time and place, we don’t realize that we can pray without knowing it by “pausing to think about something that inspires you,” being “aware that you are grateful” or even simply wishing you could pray. Martin’s book is so abundantly full that it may be the only guide to prayer you’ll ever need.
The Black Church
In the book that accompanies his PBS series of the same title, The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song, Henry Louis Gates Jr. sublimely evokes the power of worship to create both religious and political solidarity. Drawing on meticulous archival research, as well as on insightful interviews with a diverse group of religious leaders, Gates plumbs the history of the Black church in America, from its roots in slavery, through its development in the 19th and early 20th centuries, to its struggles during the 1960s and into the 21st century. Gates elegantly illustrates that “the signal aspects of African American culture were planted, watered, given light, and nurtured in the Black Church.” He also teases apart the two stories present within African American religious traditions: “one of a people defining themselves in the presence of a higher power and the other of their journey for freedom and equality in a land where power itself . . . was (and still is) denied them.” Gates’ enthralling book offers a powerful reminder that our actions affect the communities in which we live.