Archives For African-American


“Jeremiads, Sacrifice
and the Redemption of a People”

A Review of
Divine Discontent:
The Religious Imagination of W.E.B. DuBois.

By Jonathon Kahn.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Divine Discontent:
The Religious Imagination of W.E.B. DuBois.

Jonathon Kahn
Hardback: Oxford UP, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

I have long been familiar with the work of the twentieth century black cultural critic.  W.E.B. DuBois, but it was not until I read two crucial books on race and theology last year (J. Kameron Carter’s RACE: A Theological Account and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s Free To Be Bound), that I began to see the prophetic value of DuBois’s work for the Church.  Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove describes the value he has found in DuBois’s writings:

Refusing both Uncle Tom’s subservience and Nat Turner’s radicalism, DuBois dreamed of a church that would serve an economic, social and political center for a strong black community.  Here black women and men would create the world they longed to see while at the same time advocating for social change that would transform the racist systems around them…He dreamed of a church that would actually make a difference in a world where black folks get crushed and forgotten ( FREE TO BE BOUND 150).

Thus, I was excited to hear that Oxford University Press was releasing this Fall a new book on DuBois’s “Religious Imagination” – Divine Discontent by Jonathan Kahn.  Before I venture too far into my review of this book, I should be clear that although it is not a very long book (the text of the book is only 135 pages), it is pretty intense — requiring a significant grounding in history, philosophy and theology — and is not the sort of book that the average reader would just pick up and enjoy.  That being said, Divine Discontent is an essential work for understanding DuBois, his religious views and his use of religious language.

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A Prayer
Paul Lawrence Dunbar

O LORD, the hard-won miles
Have worn my stumbling feet:
Oh, soothe me with thy smiles,
And make my life complete.

The thorns were thick and keen
Where’er I trembling trod;
The way was long between
My wounded feet and God.

Where healing waters flow
Do thou my footsteps lead.
My heart is aching so;
Thy gracious balm I need.


A Brief Review of
by Mickey McGrath.

by Chris Smith.

I was unfamiliar with the powerful story of the African-American nun, Sister Thea Bowman, until I read Modern Spiritual Masters earlier this year. Not long after I read and reviewed that book, I heard that Orbis Books was going to be releasing a book about Sister Thea, and I was eager to get my hands on this book and to learn more of her story. When I received the book, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not your typical biography! Written and colorfully illustrated by the painter Brother Mickey McGrath, an oblate of St. Francis DeSales, this book is a vibrant tribute to a sister whose life was an equally vibrant witness to the way of Christ. This Little Light traces Sister Thea’s life from her childhood in the racially-troubled Canton, Mississippi in the 1940’s and 1950’s, through her work with the “Jubilee Singers” choir and her illustrious academic career to her untimely death of cancer at the age of 52. Infused with the imagery of Thea Bowman’s story, that of traditional African-American Gospel songs as well as that of his own personal journey, it is McGrath’s colorful paintings and calligraphy that carry this book. How appropriate it is to render so beautifully the life of a sister whose calling was to remind us of the beauty and love of the Creator-God that saturates every nook and cranny of creation! This Little Light cries out for us to immerse ourselves prayerfully in its pages, remembering the great light of Christ that shines in the radiant gifts of both Sister Thea and Brother Mickey.

Mickey McGrath.

Hardback. Orbis Books. 2008.
Buy Now from: [ Doulos Christou Books $16 ] [ Amazon ]