Hot Summer Reading

by Matt Sutton

Publisher's Weekly just ran the first review of Ed Blum and Paul Harvey’s Color of Christ. It reads,

"In this powerful and groundbreaking book, historians Blum (Reforging the White Republic) and Harvey (Freedom’s Coming) examine how images of Jesus reflect the intersection of race and religion in America. Blending historical analysis, lucid prose, and captivating primary sources, Blum and Harvey trace the remaking of Jesus from Puritan America to antebellum slave cabins, from Joseph Smith’s revelations to Obama’s presidency. The authors compellingly argue that Christ’s body matters, that it signifies power, reflects national fears and evolving conceptions of whiteness, and perpetuates racial hierarchies by continuously reifying the idea that whiteness is sacred. Blum and Harvey deconstruct the axioms that racial groups simply depict God in their own image, that the white Jesus of America is a mere replication of European art, and that Jesus has been depicted as white since America’s colonization. The authors devote significant time to exploring how marginalized groups, especially African-Americans and Native Americans, have reacted to and reimagined representations of Jesus. They masterfully probe how a sacred icon can be a tool at once of racial oppression and liberation. A must-read for those interested in American religious history, this book will forever change the way you look at images of Jesus. (Sept. 21)"

If I had not read the book I would assume that the review was written by one of the authors’ mothers. But I have read it—UNC, despite its reputation for scholarly excellence, asked me to serve as a peer-reviewer. And indeed, the book is as good as PW claims.

Second, I just finished Andrew Preston’s Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith. This book is incredibly good. It represents 600+ pages of smart analysis, incredible research, and engaging prose. It was so good that despite its weight, I dragged it down to the beach where it was drenched in kids’ 50-SPF sunscreen, sand from exploding castles, and splashes of salt water. But it was also read and enjoyed. I do have one concern though. Preston will almost certainly snag some OAH/AHA awards for this book in 2013, following in Dochuk’s 2012 footsteps. What is the significance of two Canadians cleaning up the US history awards? The next thing we know Steve Nash is going to be playing basketball for the Lakers. Crap. When will the Canadian invasion end?

Finally, our humble blog administrator, excellent teacher, lousy basketball player, and fantasy football basket case has managed to get an article to the top of the RD hit list without using the words “Romney” or “Reconstruction.” He published a great article available here on the relationship between conservative politics and Colorado wildfires in his backyard. Check it out.


Paul Harvey said…
There's only one drawback to this review -- it's not printed in comic sans font, like they did with the Higgs Boson announcement and the reaction to the LeBron James announcement. Other than that, all I can say is, thanks mom!

As for Nash to the Lakers -- Nash is now dead to me.
Anonymous said…
It is going to be weird seeing Steve Nash play for the Lakers....if he plays.
The Lakers are back! Good for LA teams, enjoying our current Stanley Cup. I'm almost as happy as Paul and Ed should be for this worthy review. Well done, gentleman, well done.
Paul Harvey said…
Kevin, my happiness at the review is slightly marred only by the fact that Lakers are back in the conversation. And don't give me any lip about that, Arlene S-W.

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