Item description for The Spirituals and the Blues: An Interpretation by James H. Cone...
Overview Cone explores two classic aspects of African-American culture--the spirituals and the blues. He tells the captivating story of how slaves and the children of slaves used this music to affirm their essential humanity in the face of oppression. The blues are shown to be a "this-worldly" expression of cultural and political rebellion. The spirituals tell about the "attempt to carve out a significant existence in a very trying situation".
Publishers Description Cone explores two classic aspects of African-American culture--the spirituals and the blues. He tells the captivating story of how slaves and the children of slaves used this music to affirm their essential humanity in the face of oppression. The blues are shown to be a "this-worldly" expression of cultural and political rebellion. The spirituals tell about the "attempt to carve out a significant existence in a very trying situation."
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Studio: Orbis Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.2" Width: 5.36" Height: 0.41" Weight: 0.4 lbs.
Release Date Oct 1, 1992
Publisher Orbis Books
ISBN 0883448432 ISBN13 9780883448434
Availability 0 units.
More About James H. Cone
James H. Cone is Charles A. Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York. His other books include A Black Theology of Liberation, God of the Oppressed, The Spirituals and the Blues, and The Cross and the Lynching Tree.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Spirituals and the Blues: An Interpretation?
Presenting a Full Gospel Oct 14, 2002
The history of white Christianity reveals an otherworldliness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that eliminates much concern for the earth and its inhabitants. The overspiritualization of the Bible's concepts opens the door for oppression. People think that deliverance and liberation is not for this fallen world but the next. But the Black community would disagree, and they'd have the Bible to agree with them.
Cone shows wonderfully how the Black African community of the days of slavery and afterward actually had a more biblical view of the Gospel. Yes, the Gospel involves heaven, the next life, salvation unto eternal life. But the Gospel is clearly demonstrated, both in the Old and New Testaments, to be one that shows God's concern for the earth and its inhabitants without distinctions. The concept of God cannot co-exist with the concept of continuing oppression, even in a fallen world.
Cone shows how the spirituals and the blues (secular spirituals) are a foundational binding force, much like American Sign Language is for the Deaf community. Remove the Blues and the spirituals and you try to destroy the personhood, humanness, and the dignity of the people of the Black community who are also made in the image of God.
This book had quite an affect on me because I, as a white person, I held to much otherworldly interpretations of the Gospel and much else in scripture. I recently learned that the Hebrew word for vanity and vain is never used in the book of Ecclesiastes! The word simply means temporary and the book expresses that we are not to trust in temporary things, but we can joy in them as a gift from God. Both the Old and New Testaments teach that the earth and all else created is good (beneficial according to Hebrew and Greek). I have also seen that earthly liberation and dignity of all people, whether believers in God or not, is a focus of God. Many people are going to hell, but they still deserve to be shone dignity because they are made in the image of God (see Genesis 9 on why God instituted the death penalty: it was because it was an attack on God's image in man, and there weren't any white people yet). Cone has effectively shown me that while not perfect, earlier Black theology is quite biblical and shows the Gospel to be what it is: a power for transforming the earth as well as a power to take people to heaven. It provides not only spiritual liberation but earthly liberation as well.
Cone presents various interpretations of the spirituals and concisely teaches where some views are right and some are wrong. Spirituals were quite earth centered without ignoring heaven. Jordan and sweet chariot and other terms actually referred to earthly hopes, not heavenly ones.
I read this book in a few days and immediately began reading it again, it was that enlightening and freeing. With just over 130 pages, I became truly more bonded with my Black brethren in Christ and with my Black brethren who are not Christians but are made in the image of God.
With careful openness and alertness, one realizes that the plight of the Black community is a shared one all over the world. People of differing color all over the world, in every nation, can have earthly hope for the same reasons that Blacks in America had earthly hope: The Gospel can free anybody from oppression. Every oppression in the world has the light of the hope of liberation over it, and it is very well taught in Black liberation theology as found in the spirituals.
One other important point, I was reminded that most people in the world, including in America, and throughout all history, have not had the opportunity or the time to be studied theologians, even of the layman's type. Yet, the "ignorant" of scripture often have a better understanding of the Bible for contemporary life than do theologians. I've learned once again that the less learned in the scriptures may, in fact, have much more to teach me, especially about how to change the world. I mean, hey, heaven is perfect, so obviously the transforming power of the Gospel must be for an imperfect place, and we are living in it.
For such a short, concise book, it speaks to so many issues even outside the Black community and the spiritual and blues themselves. It is a book written on a very specific topic that gives hope to everyone, for the spirituals and the blues are, in fact, a common issue to all men, women, and children, especially those of color.