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African American religion

1. In regards to theological discourse, the church and society, what is the significance of color symbolism, the problem of the color line as manifested in a valuation of whiteness and devaluation of blackness?

2. What are the two fundamental factors contributing to the birth of the independent African American church in American. Where did it originate? Why? Clarify the theological dynamics of the color line and its impact.

3. What is the analysis of E. Franklin Frazier's discussion of "The Negro Church and Assimilation" in light of W. E. B. DuBois's discussion, of "Of The Faith of the Fathers".

4. What does Howard Thurman's discussion of "The Negro Spiritual Speaks of Life and Death", say about the lasting value and quality of the African American religious experience? What is the reason there is an absence of "the Negro Spirituals" as an integral part of worship in present day African American congregations.

5. Based on Albert Roboteau's discussion of Black Destiny in the Nineteenth Century, what theologically does the phrase, "Ethiopia Shall Soon Stretch Forth Her Hands", relative to the African American church, on the one hand, taking the lead in the quest for assimilation and social integration and, on the other hand, taking the lead in the quest for social separation, Pan-Africanism, and the back to African movement.

6. What does it mean that the African American church, along with being the vanguard of social, economic and political activism in the African American community, has since its inception remains on the cutting edge of social change in society.

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In regards to theological discourse, the church and society, what is the significance of color symbolism, the problem of the color line as manifested in a valuation of whiteness and devaluation of blackness.

Color is always symbolic. The main colors, apart from white and black, are the three colors of the Ethiopian flag: green, red and yellow. They are usually used today as "pan-African" along with black. Generally, green refers to the ancient fertility of Ethiopia. Contrary to the images of the 1980s, Ethiopia had a long history of wealth and power. Only under the Soviet-sponsored Derg movement in the 1970s did the economy reach such depths that starvation ensued.

Red is for blood. This concerns both race nationalism and the blood shed for the defense of the country (see below). Red is also the color for action, movement and revolution. Unfortunately, this was taken literally by the Derg communists, and the red was, without fail, exaggerated beyond its normal use. There, red stands for chaos, blood and power. The Derg destruction of the Ethiopian economy (not to mention the murder of royalists and emperor H. Selassie himself). Finally, yellow is the color for peace, sunlight, gold and self-sufficiency.

These are also theological symbols. Ethiopia has a 1800 year Christian history. In 550 AD, St. Yared was composing a hymn to sorrow. As he sang, three birds came to him. They had the colors above. The birds were named Ge'ez, Uzil and Ararai, and they were colored green, yellow and red respectively.

In the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia, these colors are referents to aspects of verses to be sung at the liturgy. Ge'ez is for daily services, Uzil is for Lent and Ararai is for major feasts. This makes liturgical sense, since green refers to fertility, or the daily work in the fields. Yellow is for peace and cleansing, which Lent is meant to create. Feasts are time for rejoicing and movement, hence they are symbolized by red (and Ethiopians move quite a bit during services).

The black nationalist flag of 1920 does not use yellow, since peace was not part of the equation. Black was used instead to emphasize that the "Africa" they were referring to was south of the Sahara. Green was for natural wealth of Africa, and red is bot for blood shed and racial ties.

What are the two fundamental factors contributing to the birth of the independent African American church in American. Where did it originate? Why? Clarify the theological dynamics of the color line and its impact.

The oldest black church in America is the African Methodist Episcopal Church, founded in 1816. While open to all races, it was the first officially chartered black church. It was founded by the famed Bp. Richard Allen. Allen founded the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1794, but this was a parish, not a denomination. His court case in Pennsylvania sought to remain independent of the mostly white part of Methodism. One faction sought to become "non-denominational." Since he wanted to retain the "Methodist" name but not be associated with the white group, he sued in the state of Pennsylvania. He won. The whites lost, in 1813. Allen and his church was equal to any other church in the US.

Anyway, the two factors relevant here were culture and control. One implies the other. Blacks were slaves, though there were many free ones. While a member of the mostly white Methodist church, blacks were segregated and were forced to receive communion afterward. Of course, both culture and control are operative here. One reaction was separatism, where black mutual aid and self-help were paramount. Creating a subculture was the main issue. Allen liked this idea too, but that did not mean he rejected Methodism as such.

Henry Mitchell (2004) makes the claim that black and white churches existed in the early republic. As whites slowly did well in the economy, whites suddenly turned on their black parishioners. Mr. Mitchell does not document this claim, which seems very simplistic. Lemuel Haynes (died 1833) was a black Congregationalist who preached in mostly white parishes. J. Chavis, a black Presbyterian studied at ...

Solution Summary

An African American religion is provided, The two fundamental factors contributing to the birth of the independent African American church in American are provided.

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