What is African American Religion?
Publication Year: 2011
Is there really a monolithic "black church"? Distilling the arguments of Pinn's important and provocative work in Terror and Triumph, this brief work asks the central question: What really is African American religion?
Sketching the religious landscape of African American communities today, Pinn makes explicit the tension in traditional conversations about black religion that privilege either Christianity in particular or organizations (with doctrines and creeds) in general. Discussing the misunderstandings and historical inaccuracies of such views, Pinn offers an alternate theory of black religion that begins with a basic push for embodied meaning as its core impulse.
Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Title Page, Copyright
...In response, scholars and the general public have wrestled with the nature and meaning of religion—why it seems to matter so much to so many and how it can be responsible for, or at least linked to, activities of both devastation and development. Even aggressive critiques of religion by the “New Atheists”—figures such as Richard Dawkins—serve to highlight the tenacity of things religious. And while the New Atheists focus...
Chapter 1: Standard Mappings and Theorizing of African American Experience
...What is African American religion? Really, how does one define African American religion in a way that acknowledges and wrestles with the similarities and contradictions emerging when one thinks about this question in light of a full host of traditions with a long presence within African American communities? Answering this question points in...
Chapter 2: The Shape and Purpose of African American Religion
...dread or terror referred to at the end of chapter 1 is profound in that it forced enslaved Africans and free blacks to confront helplessness, isolation from the familiar, and submersion in absurdity. But this dread is not restricted to the individual. It also had implications on the communal level in that it had something to do with a despised “otherness” attached to black individuals and...
Chapter 3: Why Standard Mappings and Theorizing Don't Work
...studies regarding African American religion have been biased toward theistic orientations. My attention in the previous chapter to black churches and the Nation of Islam—as two of the more widely analyzed and described traditions in the study of African American religion—was meant to suggest this bias by presenting...
Chapter 4: Remapping and Rethinking African American Religion
...the quest for complex subjectivity introduced at the end of the last chapter is of great importance for a new definition of the nature and meaning of African American religion. But before launching into that discussion, it is important to provide a few key definitions, beginning with what is meant by the term “quest.”...
Chapter 5: A New Theory of African American Religion
...What I outlined in chapters 1 and 2 and critiqued in chapter 3 entails a historically and culturally determined sense of religion that is known through structures and practices. But this is only one dimension of African American religion, and if this were the end, one might think it could not exist without the process of dehumanization: no dehumanization...
For Further Reading
...Is there really a monolithic “black church”? Distilling the Triumph, this brief work asks the central question: What really is ties today, Pinn makes explicit the tension in traditional conversations about black religion that privilege either Christianity in particular or organizations (with doctrines and creeds) in general...