All God's children: a study on African American Mormons and guides for women of the spirit challenge the heart.
Through essays, Black and Mormon chronicles the evolution of the relationship between the Mormon Church and African Americans. It will be most appreciated by students of theology, and presents an interesting perspective on the depth, intensity and forgiving nature of African American faith.
The book begins with a look at the history of racism in the Mormon Church, particularly the strict edict that no men of African descent were eligible for priesthood, the highest station in the Mormon Church. This doctrine, which was not repudiated until 1978, sprung from the all-too-familiar fallacy that African Americans are cursed children of Canaan and thus unworthy of respect and honor. The middle essays are poignant, personal stories of African American Mormons who held on to their faith despite the inequities that abounded in church doctrine.
One essay tells the story of Jane Elizabeth Manning, who, in the 1800s, was so determined to be treated equally that she lobbied the Mormon Church for years until it named her a member of its founding family, assuring her rightful place in the Hereafter. Another essay follows generations of two African American Mormon families. The final chapters describe the present-day church, including an insightful portrayal of a modern and culturally diverse Atlanta, Georgia, ward.
Black and Mormon, though difficult to follow in places, portrays the faith of black Mormons who believed that the faithfulness of their God was stronger than the racism of human beings and that if they just held on, change would come. Their story closely resembles the relationship of African Americans to our country. Like America, the Mormon Church changed its laws but is still working on its heart.
--Reviewed by Tracey D. Weaver
Tracey D. Weaver is a freelance writer living in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Your Inner Eve: Discovering God's Woman Within by The Reverend Dr. Susan Newman One World/Ballantine Books, January 2005 $13.95, ISBN 0-345-45080-9
Author of Oh God! A Black Woman's Guide to Sex and Spirituality (One World/Ballantine Books, March 2002), admonishes, inspires and pleads with women to return to the original woman God created them to be before they were silenced by abuse, racism, sexism or anything else that suppressed God's voice.
A quick read, thanks to Newman's wit and conversational tone, it contains chapters on prayer, working for change and speaking out as keys to reclaiming that inner spirit or "Goddess within." Newman uses Eve as her central figure to impart life-inspiring messages, and also uses other biblical characters.
Candid about her own journey to reclaim God's woman within, she makes readers feel she walks with them as they journey toward inner peace and joy.
--Reviewed by Kathryn V. Stanley
Kathryn V. Stanley is the FAITH editor for BIBR. She is also a staff writer at Wright Publishing Company in Atlanta, Georgia.
African American Women Tapping Power and Spiritual Wellness by Stephanie Y. Mitchem, Ph.D. Pilgrim Press, October 2004 $18, ISBN 0-829-81559-7
This a catch-you-off-guard revelation on how African American women might deal with struggle, survival and healing, manages the difficult task of placing words of wisdom side by side with essay and biblical reconstruction and commentary. Mitchem weaves heartfelt womanist disclosures with the realities of the "isms" of our world.
Seminarians may study it; preachers may be inspired by it; health-care providers may counsel with it; and scholars may lecture with it. All may come closer to healing because of it.
--Reviewed by Monica C. Jones
Monica C. Jones is an assistant minister at Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Georgia.