Religious Historian Ed Blum Brings New Jersey Sensitivity to Reading Hollywood Faith ~ Praxis Habitus - On Race Religion & Culture

Friday, August 7, 2009

Religious Historian Ed Blum Brings New Jersey Sensitivity to Reading Hollywood Faith

Over at the Religion in American History blog, historian Edward J. Blum, author of WEB Du Bois: American Prophet, brings a suburban New Jersey sensitivity to reading my book Hollywood Faith.

Professor Blum writes,

Cover of Cover via Amazon

Growing up in suburban New Jersey – where making money, just saying “no” to drugs, and interrupting people as a way to show you care were the cultural norms and the entertainment industry was something way out there – I never thought too much about religion and film.

I tried to avoid movies with too much swearing or nudity (except for the time a youth group friend compelled me to see
Natural Born Killers, which I still haven’t recovered from; yes, Kevin Pepper, you scarred me for life). Southern California is a different animal. If you aren’t in a band or trying to land your Screen Actors’ Guild card, you can’t be very important. The entire culture confuses me.

Thank goodness for Gerardo Marti. An incredible interpreter of congregational life...

Blum is a gifted historian who brings a wealth of understanding to the intersection of race and religion, especially in the African American experience,

WASHINGTON - APRIL 28:  Invited guests stand a...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I think Marti is at his best analyzing how Oasis appeals to aspirants in the entertainment industry in ways similar to how historically black churches have appealed to embattled African Americans who often experienced economic problems, setbacks, and frustration more often than whites.

Marti suggests, I think brilliantly, that Oasis bridges the gap between older black congregations that looked to “advance the dignity and rights of African Americans as a racial group” and the newer black churches that emphasize “individual upward mobility.”

Blum's expertise makes his assessment of my discussion of the Black Church sooooo very much appreciated.

Read his full post is over at the Religion in American History blog.

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