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The Preacher King: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Word that Moved America Paperback – April 20, 1995

4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s quest for justice, his insistence on nonviolence and his prophetic rage are themes that resound in the sermons he delivered as a preacher. Beginning with his formative years in Atlanta's Baptist-African church, where his father was a minister, through his own pastorate in Montgomery, Alabama, this careful, illuminating study shows how King transposed the Judeo-Christian themes of love, suffering, deliverance and justice into the civil rights arena. Lischer, professor of homiletics at Duke University's Divinity School, draws heavily on audiotapes and transcripts of King's unedited, original sermons and speeches. He devotes particular attention to King's final three years, when he abandoned liberal rhetoric, accused America of racial genocide, warned of possible urban riots and called for a redistribution of wealth. Lischer argues persuasively that King was influenced by his fellow African-American preachers as much as by Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Lischer (Duke Univ. Divinity Sch.) explores King's use of language to show his many preaching influences and the political tactics and church-tradition antecedents behind his rhapsodic flourishes?how, for instance, refrains from several speeches he'd given on different stumps around the country came together into the "I Have a Dream" address one inspired day by the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (April 20, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195087798
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195087796
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,125,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Richard Lischer, scholar and professor at Duke Divinity, supplies both the student of history and local pastor a wonderful gift with his work, The Preacher King: Martin Luther King Jr.and the Word that Moved America. Combining history, theology, New Testament scholarship, politics, and narrative criticism as very few can--Lischer paints a detailed yet complete picture of the life and legacy of one of America's great religious leaders.

I suggest Richard Lischer's Preacher King for two reasons. First, Lischer has the rare ability to capture the tension and ethos of 1960's America. The Civil Right Era has become a source of nostalgia for some. Lischer refuses to buy into this hype-machine by closely immersing himself back into the world of those who marched in Selma, Montgomery, and Memphis. "Despite the enforced intimacy of the races, a rigid caste system, buttressed by dozens of local statutes, forbade blacks and whites to acknowledge the life they in fact held in common. A local statute went so far as to bar whites and blacks from playing cards, dice, checkers, or dominoes together. Restrooms and drinking fountains were clearly marked. By law, a white person and a Negro could not share a taxi. The segregation of restaurants and public transportation was carried out with a routine cruelty that left the black citizens of Montgomery, like those of most southern cities, humiliated and burning with resentment." You will find an absence of over-sentimentalized anecdotes and conversations: Lischer understands all too well how the stakes were during this tumultuous period in American history.

Second, Lischer paints a nuanced portrait of Dr. King as the Civil Right's Moses-figure. Lischer pays close attention to Dr.
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The best way to describe this book for me is a struggle. At times Lischer gives me the sense that he is celebrating Black preaching, but comments that he makes in the book almost bringing preaching down to more of a performance to a certain degree for me, undermines the power of Black preaching and undermines the power of King's words. Although I do not believe that this is Lischer's intention, this for me is what I experienced as an African-American reading the book. I also did not like the moments in the book when the closing or ending of the Black preachers sermon and Kings style in particular was sexualized by Lischer comparing it to a sexual climax that even supposedly "moves sister's to shed their sexual inhibitions". This is problematic for me because as an African-American too often sexualization or over-sexualization of Black culture and Black bodies has often led to a devaluation of our worth as human beings. Again, I do not believe that this is Lischers intention and believe that the language that he uses to celebrate Dr. Kings preaching and the culture that influenced it is an attempt to celebrate Kings legacy. Yet, the way that he does it at certain points in the book uses language in description that is unnecessary. I believe that most Black preachers preach naturally out of their culture and for the most part the way that this comes out would be more subconscious as opposed to some type of scientific exercise in preaching where the preacher prepares for some type of performance.
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Having been a teenager at the time of the Civil Rights movement I haven't been able to appreciate the efforts nor the persona of the movement leaders. The one that stands out is Martin Luther King! This book has provided me with indepth knowledge of the man, his leadership, his achievements and his failures.
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A very perceptive reflection on preaching by Martin Luther King, Jr. The book shows how Dr King's preaching reflects both liberal protestant ways of thinking and the experience of the African-American community, and how his preaching changed over the course of his ministry. Lischer beautifully captures preaching styles in the African-American community, and shows how some readers have misunderstood Dr King's use of material borrowed from other preachers and adapted from earlier sermons of his own. Overall, a helpful and engagingly written account of the work by a master of preaching.
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"The Preacher King: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Word that Moved America " by Richard Lischer is very insightful and a great read. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a master of words. Richard Lischer expressed the life and preaching of MLK using elegant keen dictum as the pages flow from one to the next.
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