How can they hear without a preacher?
Where are the progressive African American religious voices of our day? Where are the preachers who are not afraid to speak truth to power and challenge current political policies that contradict the teachings of Jesus Christ?
Some of the most profound, progressive and prophetic preachers met last year at the inaugural Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference. Their insights are captured in a new book of sermons and essays entitled Blow the Trumpet in Zion. This book includes contributions from such luminaries as James H. Cone, James A. Forbes Jr., Frederick D. Haynes III, Asa G. Hilliard, III, Vashti M. McKenzie and Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Topics explored include: AIDS, sexism, racial prejudice and global vision.
In this era of "moral revolution," these are the voices crying in the wilderness shouting "hear ye the Word of the Lord!" If you have been looking and praying for a written word from African American ministers that address more than gay marriage and abortion, this book will challenge your vision, remind you of our historical strength and open your eyes and mind to a larger view of our Jesus.
--Reviewed by Gilda R. Daniels
Gilda R. Daniels is an attorney in the Washington, D.C. area.
Against All Odds: The Struggle for Racial Integration in Religious Organizations by Brad Christerson, Korie L. Edwards and Michael O. Emerson New York University Press, December 2004 $55, ISBN 0-814-72223-7
Statistics show less than eight percent of all Christian congregations in the United States are racially integrated to any significant degree. In Against All Odds, the authors use six case studies to examine the factors that perpetuate segregation in churches. Notwithstanding doctrines of love and brotherhood that dominate Christian ideology, the authors assert that conflict persists because cultural and racial identities drive biblical interpretation, bureaucratic structure, institutional purpose and expressions of worship and praise.
Ultimately, the authors' analysis shows that while successful, long-term integration is possible, it remains difficult for a number of reasons including that as dominant members of the larger society, whites expect their preferences to be met in religious settings as they are elsewhere. When those interests are not satisfied, the study showed that whites often leave. Against All Odds provides a thought-provoking discussion of an issue often noticed but rarely analyzed.
--Reviewed by Kristen Henning
Kristen Henning is a freelance writer and a professor at the Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C.
Daughters of the King: Finding Victory Through Your God-Given Personal Style by Gail M. Hayes, Ph.D. Warner Books/ Walker Worthy Press, May 2005, $12.95, ISBN 0-446-69464-9
Dr. Gail M. Hayes, an ordained minister and counselor, guides women into finding and embracing their God-given personal style.
Hayes focuses on the stories of biblical women such as Abigail and Huldah to identify seven different personal styles. These include: Jaunty Esprit, characterized as "down-to-earth and casual" and Creative Poetic, whose traits include creativity and spontaneity. She then goes on to describe the family life, working style and clothing choices of the varying image types.
Daughters of the King is recommended for women who want to journey on the path of self-discovery and embrace their stylish Christian identity.
--Reviewed by Jacqueline B. Glass
Jacqueline B. Glass is the editor of Those Preaching Women (Judson Press, June 2004).
His Rules: God's Practical Road Map for Becoming and Attracting Mr. or Mrs. Right by Christopher L. Burge and Pamela Toussaint Water Brook Press, January 2005 $16.99, ISBN 1-578-56958-3
Relationship self-help books are mostly concerned with how to behave, what to say, wear and etc., to get that dating relationship started and subsequently married to that special person.
His Rules is more concerned about the reader becoming a special person rather than how to "trap" a mate. The authors counsel the reader to deepen a relationship with God through the Personal Mentor (PM) or the Holy Spirit and rely on the Spirit's presence for guidance.
This book is not for the person with a short attention span looking for a quick fix. The authors ask if you are willing to let your relationship with God be your primary relationship. They advise you to "clean house" and list questions that "help you probe into the corners of your past and find the moldy crevices."
Although His Rules is written for a Christian audience, there is useful advice for those of other faiths, traditions and spiritual paths. All should pay attention to how their potential mates are wired; have realistic expectations, forgive, listen more and talk less, and keep a sense of humor. The Christian message of salvation is clearly laid out and prominent throughout the book, yet I would admonish others to keep an open mind.
--Reviewed by Sharita Hunt
Sharita Hunt is an actor, writer and college administrator.
The Souls of Purgatory: The Spiritual Diary of a Seventeenth-Century Afro-Peruvian Mystic, Ursula de Jesus Edited and translated by Nancy E. van Deusen University of New Mexico Press September 2004, $45, ISBN: 0-826-32827-X
Nearly everyone, even non-Catholics, has heard about or has some notion of what Purgatory is. Most of us have heard of or studied the famous The Divine Comedy written by Dante in the 13th century, where he is shown Hell, Purgatory and Heaven by his guide Virgil.
For centuries, Purgatory was considered the place where the soul becomes pure in order to enter heaven. The details of what happens there have been interpreted by certain mystics throughout church history.
The life of an Afro-Peruvian mystic, Ursula de Jesus, has been painstakingly researched in this richly detailed book. It is presented in three distinct parts: Part I describes the historical environment surrounding Ursula's life. Scholarly references are made in regard to African spirituality and mysticism. In Part I, Ursula's 40 years in slavery in the Convent of Santa Clara are vividly described. During the remaining 20 years of her life she would receive her freedom and live as a donada, a religious servant of the convent.
Her life as a cloistered nun was immersed in spiritual devotion, prompting her visions of dead souls yearning to lessen their stay in Purgatory and purify, themselves for Heaven.
Part II is the translation of Ursula's diary entries of her visions. Part III contains excerpts from the original Spanish transcriptions of her diary. The book, however, is not an easy read. Nevertheless, the reader gains an intriguing perspective of the ravages of Purgatory and the profound effect of African spirituality throughout 17th-century Peru.
--Reviewed by Ellieen V. Ancrum
Ellieen V. Ancrum is the bishop's Secretary for Ethnic Ministries for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey.
Out of Hell and Living Well by The Reverend. Dr. Barbara A. Reynolds Xulon Press, October 2004 $13.99, ISBN 1-594-67815-4
A person whose only awareness of Barbara A. Reynolds, former columnist for USA Today, was through her public face as a journalist, would be hard pressed to imagine the past, as described in this book, that led her to seek a fulfilling life of counseling and ministering to women with substance abuse problems.
Dr. Reynolds conducts Spiritual Makeover workshops throughout the country. She has a master's degree in religious studies from the Howard University School of Divinity and a doctorate from the United Theological Seminary. She was ordained in the ministry in May 1995 at the Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church in Washington, D.C., where she currently serves.
She previously wrote a "quasi-autobiographical" book No, I Won't Shut Up! Thirty Years of Telling It Like It Is with a Foreword by Coretta Scott King (JFJ Publishing Co., June 1998).
The reader is led to experience particular events in the writer's life with a biblical lesson. The description of the writer's early life is written in such straightforward and unrestrained language that I found myself wishing that I had been an adult present in her life to protect her.
The book allows the reader to "experience" Dr. Reynolds's struggles; and by doing so, share the victory of her survival. This is a fine book for anyone who has gone through or is going through difficult times.
--Reviewed by Beatrice Perry Stanley
Beatrice Perry Stanley is a poet and Catholic School principal in New Orleans.
I Told the Mountain to Move by Patricia Raybon SaltRiver/Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. March 2005, $19.99, ISBN 0-842-38797-8
Patricia Raybon, a journalist and professor, was on a relentless pursuit to learn how to pray; and she succeeded in this well-written and thought-provoking book. Her story captures the essence of how to depend upon God through a meaningful and consistent prayer life.
Raybon, whose previous book was My First White Friend: Confessions on Race, Low" and Forgiveness (Viking, June 1996), shares a candid and captivating testimony throughout each of the 24 prayer lessons allowing the reader to ponder, meditate, study and learn. Readers who take the journey through this wonderful book will undoubtedly experience a new perspective on the power of praying through it all!
--Reviewed by Kevin Wayne Johnson
Kevin Wayne Johnson is the author of Give God the Glory! (Writing for the Lord, March 2003). a nine-book series.
Word: For Everyone Who Thought Christianity Was for Suckas by Mykel Mitchell New American Library: February 2005 $12.95, ISBN 0-451-21406-4
When Mykel Mitchell, a former hustler and now coliterary agent for the rapper 50 Cent, became a Christian, he did not give up his penchant for hip-hop culture, including dress and manner of speech. Indeed, in his new book, Mitchell argues that hip-hop and Christianity can coexist and that experiencing Christ is as "down" for hip-hoppers is for anyone else.
"I turn to Christ for insight, confidence and provision;' Mitchell writes, "The only difference is that the way I rock mine is distinctively, undeniably hip-hop, a fact for which I refuse to apologize."
Mitchell shares anecdotes, provides guidance for living and seeks to dispel certain beliefs, which are thought to turn urban youth away from Christianity. Mitchell's style and language, which includes traditional hip hop references to women (to prove a point), may offend the more "straightlaced." Moreover, while the book presents the Christian faith in an unorthodox form, Mitchell continues to embrace subservient roles of women and the disdain for homosexuals promulgated by many Evangelicals, a fact that progressives may find contradictory if not off-putting.
Still, Mitchell's motivation is laudable: "I've written this book with the hope that somebody ... would ... be spared some of the use less, painful experiences that I had apart from Christ." Word up!
--Reviewed by Kathryn V. Stanley
Kathryn V. Stanley is the FAITH editor for BIBR.
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|Title Annotation:||Blow the Trumpet in Zion: Global Vision and Action for the 21st-Century Black Church; Against All Odds: The Struggle for Racial Integration in Religious Organizations; Daughters of the King: Finding Victory Through Your God-Given Personal Style; His Rules: God's Practical Road Map for Becoming and Attracting Mr. or Mrs. Right; The Souls of Purgatory: The Spiritual Diary of a Seventeenth-Century Afro-Peruvian Mystic, Ursula de Jesus; Out of Hell and Living Well; I Told the Mountain to Move; Word: For Everyone Who Thought Christianity Was for Suckas|
|Author:||Stanley, Kathryn V.|
|Publication:||Black Issues Book Review|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2005|
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