(To request a review copy, contact Barbara Jester by phone, 212.995.4021 fax or email.)
Two new books from New York University Press focus on the African American religious experience: Righteous Content: Black Women’s Perspectives of Church and Faith by Daphne C. Wiggens and Every Time I Feel the Spirit: Religious Experience and Ritual in an African American Church by Timothy J. Nelson. Both books will be published in December.
Righteous Content: Black Women’s Perspectives of Church and Faith (256 pages/$42, cloth) takes a contemporary look at the religiosity of black women. Written by Daphne Wiggens, associate pastor and coordinator of congregational ministries at Union Baptist Church, Durham, North Carolina, the work explores what is behind black women’s intense loyalty to the church, bringing to the fore the voices of the female membership of black churches as few have done. Wiggens illuminates the spiritual sustenance the church provides black women, uncovers their critical assessment of the church’s ministry, and interprets the consequences of their limited collective activism.
Every Time I Hear the Spirit: Religious Experience and Ritual in an African American Church (256 pages/$60, cloth; $19, paper) by Timothy J. Nelson, lecturer in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, is an in-depth study of a black congregation in Charleston, South Carolina. It provides a window into the tremendously important, yet largely overlooked world of African American religion as the faith is lived by ordinary believers. For decades scholars have been preoccupied with the relationship among Christianity, civil rights, and social activism. This book discusses black religion as religion. It focuses on the everyday experience of religion in the church, congregants’ relationships with God, and the role that God and Satan play in congregants’ lives— not only as objects of belief but as actual agents.