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Category: Church
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Watch This! The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism

Jonathan Walton’s new book, Watch This! The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism, is a much-needed contribution to African American religious scholarship. I suspect many on “the left” will be surprised and “the right” more nuanced for having engaged Walton’s research and analysis. Way to go, Dr. Walton for this courageous undertaking!

Here's an interview with Dr. Walton about his book:
What inspired you to write Watch This?

My interest in African American religious broadcasting came from what I perceived to be the gaps in the fields of African American religion and Religion, Media, and Culture. For the most part, scholars of African American religion in general and black theology in particular theorize about Afro-Protestantism in America according to a particular historiography that privileges liberal Protestantism in general, and civil rights motifs in particular. But the prevailing narrative of the freedom-fighting “black church” is in many ways inconsistent with a number of African American Christians whose view of the faith is informed by Trinity Broadcasting, the Word Network, and Streaming Just the same, for sociologists and communication theorists who have examined the world of evangelical religious broadcasting, it is predominantly framed as the domain of the white, religious right.

This book, then, is my attempt to illumine, unpack, and interrogate the theological and social orientations of prominent black religious broadcasters in order to understand them as a source of attraction and ethically evaluate their dominant messages.

What’s the most important take-home message for readers?

The world of religious broadcasting cannot be reduced to an arena of hucksters and snake-oil salesmen. Nor should we reduce viewers and participants to passive, uncritical spectators; folks are not mere “suckers” trapped in a cage of Marxian false-consciousness. Black religious broadcasters convey a message of self-love, self-determination and personal transformation that many find empowering. This is not to suggest that deceit and manipulation are not part of the game. The huckster image is not completely unfounded. But we cannot deny the moral agency or critical posture of participants who turn on the television, purchase a DVD, or attend these megachurches who bring possess their own spiritual aims, interests and concerns. While researching this book I came to discover that many persons are able to “eat the fish, yet spit out the bones.”
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Category: Politics
Posted by: minruth

A recent cover of Newsweek magazine reads “We Are All Socialist Now:” ; the latest cover of The Economist magazine reads “The Return of Economic Nationalism” the illustration on which has an arm reaching out of a grave surrounded by tombstones with inscriptions that refer to Protectionism and the Great Depression. The covers of the two periodicals have captured the fears of a great deal of discerning citizens, specifically regarding the role of government in the marketplace. As I pen this article our President is preparing to sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a Keynesian style economic strategy based in a conviction that only an active government response can reverse the consequences of predatory private sector decisions and thereby stabilize the economy. Accordingly advocates of this strategy have overwhelmed the public with urgent messages of the dire need for drastic government solutions to our current economic downturn.

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Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
The Greeks might have invented the pastoral, the genre in which the rustic life is idealized by writers who don’t have to live it, but it’s found its truest home in America. To Europeans of the so-called Age of Discovery, the whole North American continent seemed a sort of Edenic rod and gun club, and their descendants here still haven’t gotten over their obsession with the pure primal landscapes they despoil with their own presence. A straight line — if only spiritually — runs from Fenimore Cooper’s wild Adirondacks and Hawthorne’s sinister Massachusetts forests to Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River” to Cheever’s domesticated locus amoenus of Shady Hill to the theme park in George Saunders’s pointedly titled “Pastoralia” — where slaughtered goats are delivered to employees in Neolithic costume through a slot in the wall of their cave, much as Big Macs appear at a drive-through window. The line even leads to “Naked Lunch,” which pronounces America “old and dirty and evil before the settlers, before the Indians” — simply a calculated blasphemy. Apply enough ironic backspin, and almost any American novel this side of “Bright Lights, Big City” could be called “American Pastoral.” Or for that matter, “Paradise Lost.”

Toni Morrison has already used the title “Paradise” for the 1998 novel that I think is her weakest. But it would have been a good fit for her new book, “A Mercy,” which reveals her, once more, as a conscious inheritor of America’s pastoral tradition, even as she implicitly criticizes it. Her two greatest novels, “Song of Solomon” and “Beloved,” render the rural countryside so evocatively that you can smell the earth; even in the urban novel “Jazz,” the most memorable images are of the South its characters have left behind. But Morrison, of course, is African-American, and hers is a distinctly postcolonial pastoral: a career-long refutation of Robert Frost’s embarrassing line “The land was ours before we were the land’s.” The plantation called Sweet Home, in “Beloved,” is neither sweet to its slaves nor home to anyone, except the native Miamis, of whom nothing is left but their burial mounds. In “A Mercy,” a 17th-­century American farmer — who lives near a town wink-and-nudgingly called Milton — enriches himself by dabbling in the rum trade and builds an ostentatious, oversize new house, for which he orders up a fancy wrought-iron gate, ornamented with twin copper serpents: when the gate is closed, their heads meet to form a blossom. The farmer, Jacob Vaark, thinks he’s creating an earthly paradise, but Lina, his Native American slave, whose forced exposure to Presbyterianism has conveniently provided her with a Judeo-­Christian metaphor, feels as if she’s “entering the world of the damned.”
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