RACE, RELIGION, AND THE CONTINUING AMERICAN DILEMMA by C. Eric Lincoln

RACE, RELIGION, AND THE CONTINUING AMERICAN DILEMMA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

More heat than light in these sermon-lectures. Lincoln (Prof. of Religion and Culture at Duke) reviews the history of the Black Church in America, stressing its originality, its separateness, and its unique importance in black culture. No fair-minded person would quarrel with him about this--or question his vigorous defense of black religion's very large political dimension. Similarly, Lincoln's survey of such major historical moments as the creation of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the careers of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Elijah Muhammad (but not Malcolm X), the rise of Black Power, the Bakke case, etc., however cursory, makes a sensible, readable narrative. But he has a weakness for fulsome rhetoric, muscle-bound abstractions, and mixed metaphors. He says things like, ""the challenge. . . to disengage our feet from the muck which holds us captive. . . [as Opposed to] a license to abort the worrisome spark that tells us we ought to resist."" He makes more than a few unsubstantiated claims, such as, ""Today the Jews among others stand to benefit substantially from the Black Revolution, no matter how abrasive Black-Jewish relations may become."" And he is sometimes simply wrong, as when he argues that no other group in America has been more ""impaired"" by white supremacy than blacks: by every statistical norm American Indians are worse off. In a memorable phrase Lincoln writes that, ""The Black Church seems at its best when it is praising the Lord and picketing the devil""; and he himself is at his best when he praises black heroism and preaches against injustice. When he aims at more elaborate analysis (e.g., in his vision of the great future awaiting the Congress of National Black Churches) or more impressive stylistic effects, he often stumbles. A minor collection.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1984
ISBN: 0809016230
Publisher: Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux