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God's Long Summer [Paperback]

By Charles Marsh (Author)
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Item description for God's Long Summer by Charles Marsh...

Outline ReviewCharles Marsh thinks historians who argue the civil rights movement was about rights have made a big mistake. In God's Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights, he takes a different stance. He says the civil rights movement was about God. Marsh defends this controversial thesis with five profiles of civil rights leaders (ranging from cotton fieldworker and political activist Fannie Lou Hamer to the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi, Sam Bowers), each of whom understood their work in fundamentally theological terms. Marsh's fluid, engaging prose aims to persuade readers that the ongoing fight for civil rights is best understood in spiritual terms and to arm believers with a clear understanding of the ultimate stakes of this country's continuing struggle with racism. --Michael Joseph Gross

Product Description
In the summer of 1964, the turmoil of the civil rights movement reached its peak in Mississippi, with activists across the political spectrum claiming that God was on their side in the struggle over racial justice. This was the summer when violence against blacks increased at an alarming rate and when the murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi resulted in national media attention. Charles Marsh takes us back to this place and time, when the lives of activists on all sides of the civil rights issue converged and their images of God clashed. He weaves their voices into a gripping narrative: a Ku Klux Klansman, for example, borrows fiery language from the Bible to link attacks on blacks to his "priestly calling"; a middle-aged woman describes how the Gospel inspired her to rally other African Americans to fight peacefully for their dignity; a SNCC worker tells of harrowing encounters with angry white mobs and his pilgrimage toward a new racial spirituality called Black Power. Through these emotionally charged stories, Marsh invites us to consider the civil rights movement anew, in terms of religion as a powerful yet protean force driving social action.

The book's central figures are Fannie Lou Hamer, who "worked for Jesus" in civil rights activism; Sam Bowers, the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi; William Douglas Hudgins, an influential white Baptist pastor and unofficial theologian of the "closed society"; Ed King, a white Methodist minister and Mississippi native who campaigned to integrate Protestant congregations; and Cleveland Sellers, a SNCC staff member turned black militant.

Marsh focuses on the events and religious convictions that led each person into the political upheaval of 1964. He presents an unforgettable American social landscape, one that is by turns shameful and inspiring. In conclusion, Marsh suggests that it may be possible to sift among these narratives and lay the groundwork for a new thinking about racial reconciliation and the beloved community. He maintains that the person who embraces faith's life-affirming energies will leave behind a most powerful legacy of social activism and compassion.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Princeton University Press
Pages   304
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 30, 1999
Publisher   Princeton University Press
ISBN  0691029407  
ISBN13  9780691029405  

Availability  0 units.

More About Charles Marsh

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Charles Marsh is Professor of Religion at the University of Virginia and Director of the Project on Lived Theology. He is the author of Reclaiming Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the award-winning God's Long Summer, and The Last Days. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Charles Marsh currently resides in the state of Virginia. Charles Marsh has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Kansas University of Kansas, US. University of Kansas, U.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > 20th Century > 1945 - Present
2Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > 20th Century > 1960s
3Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > 20th Century > General
4Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > African Americans > History
5Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > General
6Books > Subjects > Law > Constitutional Law > Human Rights
7Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Current Events > Civil Rights & Liberties
8Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Discrimination & Racism
9Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity
11Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Other Practices > African American

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Reviews - What do customers think about God's Long Summer?

Religion, religion, religion!  May 6, 2005
There's a lot of in-bickering within the intellectual community as to the primary motivation for any particular event. People who have majored in political science will argue that politics is always the key. People who have majored in sociology will argue that it's social change that's the key. People, like myself, who have majored in religion will always seem to find that religion is the key.

Perhaps that's why I like this book so much.

Marsh undertakes an exhaustive study of various figures in the struggle for (and against) Civil Rights. Perhaps my favorite chapter is actually the one about the Grand Imperial Wizard of the White Knights in Mississippi, Sam Bowers. It's rare to see much study devoted to the opposition and I value the effort that Marsh has put into it. Furthermore, the man is note-crazed. He has upwards of 100 footnotes for each chapter, all indexed in the back with killing accuracy. If nothing else, the bibliography he employed is fantastic enough to warrant buying the book.

I can understand, though, how people who are not students of religion would be turned off by this work. He argues the point until he's blue in the face, leaving the reader possibly a bit shocked and overwhelmed. Reading this, you're guaranteed to learn more about Bible doctrine and faith-based initiative than you perhaps ever really wanted to know. I love it, but I can certainly understand how others may not.

I strongly suggest this book for students of religion and students of Civil Rights history. I also recommend it for those who wonder "what the other side thinks" if they are curious about how religious scholars attribute everything to faith. It's a really great book and I love Marsh's clean and thorough style of writing. It's uncluttered and his organization is brilliant.
"Faith" and civil rights in Mississippi.  Mar 26, 2003
Highly recommended account of the role of "faith" in the lives of five prominent figures in Mississippi during the civil rights movement. Saints (Fannie Lou Hamer, Edwin King, Cleveland Sellers) and sinners (Sam Bowers and Douglas Hudgins) are both represented. Hudgins and other Jackson elites come off nearly as loathsome as Bowers. Marsh's prose is brilliant, providing for a lively and inspiring read.
A College Student's review  Apr 19, 2001
God's Long Summer covers a very exciting and troubled time in American History. The various points of view Marsh used to complete this book is the key to understanding this time period. However, the unnecessary abundance of religious references and the slow pace of the book make it almost unreadable. It is heartbreaking to read through one uninteresting point of view, to discover the next chapter is just as dull.
Where was God during the Civil Rights Movement?  Apr 15, 1999
Marsh's book is a truly poignant view of real Southern people during the civil rights movement. He is able to capture each of the five individual's quite different understandings of God and His actual place in their lives during this time of great struggle. Marsh takes you on a journey of different Christian imaginations as he examines the beliefs of an outstanding woman fighting for her rights as a black woman, an ex-headmaster of the Ku Klux Klan, a black militant leader, a middle-of-the-road preacher, and a white minister who managed to "cross-over" racial lines and fight for freedom. These are wonderful and heartfelt stories being presented by Marsh, and must be read by anyone who has lived through the time of the civil rights movement.
A vivid and perceptive evocation of an age  Aug 12, 1998
Marsh clearly has his saints and his villains, but anyone with a scintilla of compassion who lived through the age would be hard-pressed to disagree with his judgments. He brings his subjects to life and dissects their Christianity (or their perversion of it). When you finish the book you will be all the happier for the vindication of Fannie Lou Hamer and all the more repulsed by the enduring power of cowardly and hypocritical clergymen.

One cavil: For a book published by a school as distinguished as Princeton University, it has an alarming number of typographical errors.


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