Journal of Southern Religion, Volume 10


The editors of the Journal of Southern Religion are pleased to announce the publication of our newest volume, available at:

Some highlights include...
• Articles from John Hayes ("Hard, Hard Religion: The Invisible Institution of the New South” -- the link goes to a PDF file) and Curtis W. Freeman ("'Never Had I Been So Blind': W. A. Criswell 's 'Change' on Racial Segregation" [forthcoming]).

• Interviews with Charles Frazier, Will D. Campbell, and Wayne Flynt (forthcoming).

An author's reflection from Amy Koehlinger on her brilliant new book The New Nuns.

• A panel review of Collin Kidd's The Forging of Races by Edward Blum, Rebecca Goetz, and Randal Jelks.

• Ten more book reviews, headed by JSR editor Bland Whitley's review of Beth Barton Schweiger and Donald G. Mathews' Religion in the American South.

A special forum wherein Curtis Evans reviews and comments on David Sehat's article "The Civilizing Mission of Booker T. Washington." Sehat's response is forthcoming.

[Editor's addendum from Paul Harvey: I have blogged before about John Hayes's dissertation at the University of Georgia. The article above, "Hard, Hard Religion," gives a preview of his work. I highly recommend it as one of the most innovative recent pieces of southern religious history, focusing on rural and working-class religious mentalities and sensibilities. Check it out. Here's a brief excerpt from the piece]:

Anybody wanting tangible confirmation of these two categories—a “white church” on the side of racially-structured power, a “black church” at odds with and in resistance to such power—need only recall indelible images from the 1950s and 60s, when the Jim Crow order that emerged in and permeated the New South came under attack. One could look in 1963, not at the stage of Newport, but rather towards the streets of Birmingham. One could read, in his eloquent “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King’s deep disappointment with white churches— “archdefender[s] of the status quo,” he lamented—as they sanctioned violence through notable silence and timidity, or perhaps even actively through ideas of God-ordained racial purity. The categories of “white church” and “black church” do have explanatory power, and the long line of scholarship . . . demonstrates the close interweaving of religion and race in the New South era and beyond.

But, such categories do not capture all the dynamics of power and religion in the New South. In fact, they actively obscure a basic dynamic: how deeply impoverished people, white and black, found ways to speak religiously to each other, precisely in their common poverty. W.J. Cash’s proto-Dorian bond, or the primacy of race as a category of analysis for the New South, can become too self-evident, inhibiting any suggestion that whites and blacks might have found some common ground, that they might have cared passionately about other cultural messages than those of Jim Crow.

We thus lack a solid historiographical context for making sense of the scope of a song like “Conversation with Death,” or of its composer’s behavior. A critic could argue for the essential unimportance of its crossing the color line, or for the irrelevance of white and black working-class musicians sharing a stage in 1963. I argue that the folk revivalists who sought out this older generation of working-class southerners and who listened to their music for a different, compelling sensibility, were on to something. Religion was not all they sought or all they heard, but it was an unmistakable element. Images from this “folk revival” of the 1960s—or from the more recent wave of interest sparked by the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou (for which Ralph Stanley sang “Oh Death” and won a Grammy; on whose soundtrack black and white gospel songs mixed rather easily)—can push us back to an older world, in which poor blacks and whites shared a
religious sensibility not captured by the categories of “white church” and “black church.”


Art at: January 9, 2008 at 2:22 PM said...

Thanks Kelly! I was about to send a post forward, and you beat me to it.

One point I forgot to mention, Editor Extraordinaire Randall Stephens acquired a portion of a documentary on Campbell entitled "God's Will." Here's the link:'s_Will_video.htm

Randall at: January 9, 2008 at 3:15 PM said...

We are lining up more interviews, forums, and the like for future issues.

Any suggestions for other features are always welcome.

Luke Harlow at: January 9, 2008 at 4:17 PM said...

I'll second Kelly's opinion about John Hayes' article: it is really worth the time. I'm still figuring out what to make of it, but it is certainly provocative. No doubt he's put a lot out there for us to consider (or, perhaps reconsider is more appropriate).

Paul Harvey at: January 9, 2008 at 5:48 PM said...

Luke -- actually the opinion expressed of John's article was mine, not Kelly's -- I took the liberty of adding an editor's addendum there! Just fyi, Paul

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