Share
Explore BrainMass

Jarena Lee

Based on her life and religious experiences (autobiography). What do these aspects tell one about race and gender in early nineteenth-Century America?

Solution Preview

Grant Wacker's Religion in 19th century America identifies three trends throughout the century:
First, the Protestant evangelical movement was the largest, single force in religion at the time. This consisted of Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterian.
Second, the slow development of competition from non-evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics from Ireland, southern Europe and eastern Europe (Poland, Croatia, Hungary, Czechia).
Third, the continual changes in denominational significance. By the middle of the 19th c, Roman Catholics and Methodists were dominant, yet, they were insignificant in the beginning of the century; roughly two generations.

1770, Methodists had 1000 members in the US, by 1820, 250,000. About 25% were black, both slave and free. By 1845, almost 2 million.
The Methodists stated this in 1832 (board of Missions, quoted in Hartzell, 1923)

"As a general rule for our circuits and stations, we deem it best to include the colored people in the same pastoral charge with the whites, and to preach to both classes in one congregation, as our practice has been. The gospel is the same to all men, and to enjoy its privileges in common promotes good-will." There were many eminently successful Negro local preachers, whose services were very acceptable to white congregations. During these first fifty years all the Negro societies or classes were under the direct care of white churches and pastors.

This strongly suggests that the newer religions were very different from the old. Methodism was in the forefront of the fight against slavery, and her 75% white membership generally shared the sentiments above. Hence, the development of Methodism was also the development of anti-slavery. Further, Methodism provided black congregations with full self-government, realizing that the needs of the two races were, in most cases, different. In another proclamation, the Methodist church stated: "Slavery is contrary to the laws of God and man, and wrong and hurtful to society." And this was made in 1784.

Now, as far as Lee is concerned. She was Methodist, a growing group in the US.
Her claim to authority was nothing other than internal experience. Hence, charisma the claim to authority, not institutional position.
She is a very early figure, first experience in 1804
Believed in total depravity, strong aspect of 19th century Protestantism in general.
Her ignorance and suicidal tendencies eventually brought her to God. In other words, God shows his power in weakness, not in strength.
Her first time in the AME, finally forgave those who hurt her, and her parents who were ignorant of religion. She was given the power to "exhort sinners" but only for a time.
Significance: it was not her. It was the Spirit working in her. She had this ability only for brief periods, but it soon became a normal part of her life.
Never thought she was worthy of it, in the beginning it almost drove her insane, since it was so foreign to her.
This sort of "invasion" of her spirit was a sort of "validation" that was able to overcome any debility from poverty, race, etc.
Had intense visions. Her proofs:
She was totally uneducated; yet, she wrote and preached with immense authority and eloquence.
Christ appeared to her. She never had visions before, and other than depression, never had ...

Solution Summary

The aspects of race and gender in the early Nineteenth-Century America based in life and religious experiences are provided.

$2.19