Conjuring Culture: Biblical Formations of Black America

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Oxford University Press, 1995 M11 9 - 304 páginas
This book provides a sophisticated new interdisciplinary interpretation of the formulation and evolution of African American religion and culture. Theophus Smith argues for the central importance of "conjure"--a magical means of transforming reality--in black spirituality and culture. Smith shows that the Bible, the sacred text of Western civilization, has in fact functioned as a magical formulary for African Americans. Going back to slave religion, and continuing in black folk practice and literature to the present day, the Bible has provided African Americans with ritual prescriptions for prophetically re-envisioning, and thereby transforming, their history and culture. In effect the Bible is a "conjure book" for prescribing cures and curses, and for invoking extraordinary and Divine powers to effect changes in the conditions of human existence--and to bring about justice and freedom. Biblical themes, symbols, and figures like Moses, the Exodus, the Promised Land, and the Suffering Servant, as deployed by African Americans, have crucially formed and reformed not only black culture, but American society as a whole. Smith examines not only the religious and political uses of conjure, but its influence on black aesthetics, in music, drama, folklore, and literature. The concept of conjure, he shows, is at the heart of an indigenous and still vital spirituality, with exciting implications for reformulating the next generation of black studies and black theology. Even more broadly, Smith proposes, "conjuring culture" can function as a new paradigm for understanding Western religious and cultural phenomena generally.

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Contenido

Formulary
3
Ethnographic Perspectives
17
Theoretical Perspectives
111
Theological Perspectives
177
Diaspora
249
Selected Bibliography
257
Index
273
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Página 90 - I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream...
Página 30 - I'll make me a man!" Up from the bed of the river God scooped the clay; And by the bank of the river He kneeled Him down; And there the great God Almighty, Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky, Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night, Who rounded the earth in the middle of His hand — This Great God, Like a mammy bending over her baby, Kneeled down in the dust Toiling over a lump of clay Till He shaped it in His own image; Then into it He blew the breath of life, And man became...
Página 100 - And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
Página 11 - I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not. Across the color line I move arm in arm with Balzac and Dumas, where smiling men and welcoming women glide in gilded halls. From out the caves of evening that swing between the strong-limbed earth and the tracery of the stars, I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension. So, wed with Truth, I dwell above the Veil.
Página 30 - The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky, And the oak spread out his arms, The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground, And the rivers ran down to the sea; And God smiled again, And the rainbow appeared, And curled itself around His shoulder. Then God raised His arm and He waved His hand Over the sea and over the land, And He said,
Página 107 - And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.
Página 90 - ... little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
Página 112 - It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness, — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
Página 21 - And God stepped out on space, And He looked around and said, "I'm lonely— I'll make me a world." And far as the eye of God could see Darkness covered everything, Blacker than a hundred midnights Down in a cypress swamp. Then God smiled, And the light broke, And the darkness rolled up on one side, And the light stood shining on the other, And God said, "That's good!

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