Are you looking for a text for your Spring semester course in American religious history, African-American history, or a something similar? Then I encourage you to check out Paul Harvey’s recent offering, Through the Night: A History of African American Christianity.
We have come to expect great things from Harvey whenever he turns his attention to questions of religion and race in the American South. I look forward to reading Through the Storm, Through the Night, possibly teaching it, recommending it, and then placing it on my bookshelf where it will join Harvey’s Freedom’s Coming and Redeeming the South, two books I consult regularly.
The reviewers at Publishers Weekly give it high praise:
Through the Storm, Through the Night: A History of African American Christianity
Paul Harvey. Rowman & Littlefield, $35 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7425-6473-2
This deceptively slim book covers an enormous amount of historical terrain as an overview of African-American faith in America, touching a staggering number of major developments without exhaustively detailing them. Harvey, a professor of history at the University of Colorado, begins by explaining how the slave trade permanently altered religion for African-Americans, then moves on quickly to how the black church later provided cultural survival strategies. The same colonies that argued that the Bible sanctioned slavery hosted Protestant evangelical revivals where African-American Christianity was born. The book expertly pulls together the individual stories of well-known historical figures whose lives were shaped in black churches, the significance of syncretism in African and Caribbean-based religions as reflections of some elements of Christian theology, and the spread of gospel music as a new and influential part of American popular culture. There are some repetitive passages on Voodoo and Yoruba traditions, but the book is almost entirely a good, rigorous starting point for those unfamiliar with the place of African-American Christianity in America’s history. (Sept.)