A solidly documented, eye-opening look at a generation of black men and women who are returning to the church of their...


REVIVING THE SPIRIT: A Generation of African Americans Goes Home to Church

A solidly documented, eye-opening look at a generation of black men and women who are returning to the church of their parents and grandparents. Journalist Lawrence interviews dozens of parishioners at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore, one of the nation's oldest and largest churches. Their experiences, eloquently portrayed here, provide key insights into why so many African-Americans are returning to the nation's 65,000 black churches. While African-Americans are statistically ""part of the larger return of the baby boomers to religion,"" their concerns are often distinct from those of their white counterparts. For the members of the new black middle class, integration into the primarily white professional workplace has often proven to be an alienating experience. This generation of African-Americans is experiencing a spiritual hunger that they feel only the black church can satisfy. Pam Shaw, a 34-year-old attorney, says, ""Not going to church didn't work. Going to integrated or white churches, we've been losing something . . . and living in these lily white jobs, we're really disconnected and want to be connected again."" The black church also provides members of the African-American middle class a setting from which to involve themselves with the many blacks who are further down the economic ladder. Lawrence focuses on Bethel's efforts to provide black men with the sense of dignity that fosters economic self-sufficiency. Once a week hundreds of black men file into Bethel's sanctuary for the Male Only Study Group; the church's flamboyant Reverend Frank Reid has learned that ""a fiery blend of Islam, the Bible, black nationalism, racial chauvinism, military-style discipline, and bootstrap economics is a message black males seem to want to hear."" A lucid and significant contribution that helps us understand the sociological drumbeats that recently marched countless black men to Washington and will continue to resonate in the years ahead.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996


Page Count: 192

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1995

Close Quickview