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The Black Spiritual Movement, 2Nd Ed: A Religious Response To Racism Paperback – November 26, 2001

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Book Description

Spiritual churches in the United States represent one of several religious movements that African Americans have adopted in their efforts to cope with mainstream society. In this groundbreaking work, first published in 1984, Hans A. Baer explores the richness and creativity of Black Spiritualism, setting forth an illuminating ethnography of the movement that corrects numerous stereotypes of African American religion.

Baer shows that the Spiritual churches blend diverse elements, borrowing aspects of African American Protestantism, American Spiritualism, Roman Catholicism, Voodoo, and black ethno-medicine, occasionally even including aspects of Islam, Judaism, New Thought, and Ethiopianism. He describes not only the history, structure, ideology, and practices of the churches but also the process of syncretism within them and their role within the African American community. In addition, Baer examines how the Spiritual movement juxtaposes elements of protest and accommodation to racism and class stratification in U.S. society

This second edition includes a new preface and a new epilogue in which Baer discusses his methodology in researching the Black Spiritual Movement, describes his meetings with pastors and congregation members, and summarizes his most recent research in the field.

About the Author

The Author: Hans A. Baer is professor of anthropology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. A past president of the Southern Anthropological Society, he has published nine books, including African-American Religion in the Twentieth Century (with Merrill Singer).


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Tennessee Press; 2 edition (November 26, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572331461
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572331464
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,061,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By George Latimer-Knight on September 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
Hans A. Baer is a premier scholar in this area.

The negative, he paints too many big strokes of assumption. Let me give several examples. First, when Catholics burn candles, it is part of a great tradition. When black churches burn candles, it has to be "voodoo" or "black art" involved. Second, he lumps all black spiritualist practices together. For instance, just because one church using zodiac, does not mean all do.

The positive, Baer brings attention to the topic. He even rightly suggests black spiritualists do more to tell their own story.

In all fairness, it is always a difficulty telling another's story. There is no way Dr. Baer could have learned the many subtle ways of spiritualist religion, in a short period of time. Furthermore, all the previous scholarship done, though no fault of his own, was done through biased eyes.

I give 4/5 stars. It is well worth the read; it is great work despite the negatives I expressed.

(Disclaimer: Chapter 3 of the book, "The Father Hurley Sect: The Untold Story of a Black God's Kingdom" is about my great-grandfather. I am still a member of the church.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Katie Day on August 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hans Baer's book is still a unique contribution to an understudied phenomenon. Black spiritualism has links with the experience of African American Muslims and syncretist groups; this work provides a helpful resource in understanding current movements.
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The Black Spiritual Movement, 2Nd Ed: A Religious Response To Racism
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