Given the unique history of African Americans and their diverse religious flowering in Black Christianity, the Nation of Islam, voodoo, and others, 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, based on 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.
In this 20th anniversary edition of Pinn's groundbreaking work, the author offers a new reflection on the argument in retrospect and invites a panel of five contemporary scholars to examine what it means for current and future scholarship. Contributors include Keri Day, Sylvester Johnson, Anthony G. Reddie, Calvin Warren, and Carol Wayne White.