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People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States Hardcover – April 30, 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Co-Winner of the 2007 Oliver Cromwell Cox Award, Racial and Ethnic Minorities Section of the American Sociological Association

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2006

"The book's bottom line: Multiracial churches are rare, hard to sustain and worth the trouble."--Sam Hodges, Dallas Morning News

"People of the Dream is arguably the most complete examination to date of an important but thin slice of religious life in the United States. . . . By virtue of its scope, its originality, and its ability to captivate, it will surely set the standard in the study of multiracial congregations for some time to come."--James C. Cavendish, Contemporary Sociology

"The book's solid scholarship will satisfy the academy, and its accessibility will also make it useful in the church."--Deborah J. Kapp, Journal of Church and State

"People of the Dream is filled with individual stories sympathetically told and quantitative data competently analyzed; it faces tough issues and offers reasonable grounds for hope. It is by far the best book on its topic that I know of."--R. Stephen Warner, Christian Century

"The book and the research on which it is based, casts an interesting light no only on multiracial congregations, but on congregational life in general. It is a significant work for anyone studying race and religion in contemporary America."--Peter Slade, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"People of the Dream is an outstanding work that provides valuable insights for both the scholar and practitioner, and it stands as a prophetic signpost in evaluating the state of race relations in our most segregated institutions."--Jerry Z. Park, Sociology of Religion


Exhaustively researched and meticulously crafted, People of the Dream is a deeply important book.
(Omar McRoberts, University of Chicago ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; First Edition edition (April 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691124515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691124513
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,584,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Michael Emerson did a lot of careful research for this book, and he tells the truth, some of it told in spite of the obvious fact that he has a strong bias in favor of interracial endeavors.

To begin with, according to his reasonable definition, only 7% of American congregations are interracial, and all is not peaches and cream with these. In a chapter called "Shadows" Emerson relates candidly the difficulties of melding diverse cultures and traditions, especially in religion, and says in so many words that some of those trying to do this often wonder if it worth the effort.

Emerson identifies two dominant religious traditions in America - English European and African American. The big differences are in the areas of preaching and music, which reflect still deeper differences concerning the roles of reason and emotion. Sometimes seemingly minor arguments finally can be seen as rooted in these cultural differences.

Many of the churches Emerson studied are, indeed, predominantly either European or African in their style, and often joining an interracial church means accepting the dominant style of that particular church, even though it may not be your own religious tradition at all.

When all is said and done, this book is a very valuable study of the real sticking points in American race relations, and if the churches who are trying to do something about this can keep on learning, we might all benefit greatly.

I recommend the book mostly because it tells the truth in an area of American life, race relations, where the truth is often hidden or ignored. Dwight Brown
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the most comprehensive and objective study that I have read about diverse congregations in the United States. Emerson digs deep and challenges churches to address the old cliche' that the Sunday morning worship hour remains the most segregated in America. Emerson goes beyond just evaluating the color of the people in the pews to researching the color of church leadership, styles of music, the color of church literature and teaching materials, to discussing which societal causes will be addressed. This should be a must read for any pastor who stands behind that sacred desk as well as for anyone who assumes a position of leadership or who has an impact on church leadership.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book may be the most extensive study of multiracial congregations in the USA, but we really need more insight. Perhaps in 20-30 years we will have a better idea about how to accomplish racial healing.
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