The Cross and the Lynching Tree

Front Cover
Orbis Books, 2011 - Religion - 202 pages
A landmark in the conversation about race and religion in America.

"They put him to death by hanging him on a tree." Acts 10:39

The cross and the lynching tree are the two most emotionally charged symbols in the history of the African American community. In this powerful new work, theologian James H. Cone explores these symbols and their interconnection in the history and souls of black folk. Both the cross and the lynching tree represent the worst in human beings and at the same time a thirst for life that refuses to let the worst determine our final meaning. While the lynching tree symbolized white power and "black death," the cross symbolizes divine power and "black life" God overcoming the power of sin and death. For African Americans, the image of Jesus, hung on a tree to die, powerfully grounded their faith that God was with them, even in the suffering of the lynching era.

In a work that spans social history, theology, and cultural studies, Cone explores the message of the spirituals and the power of the blues; the passion and of Emmet Till and the engaged vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.; he invokes the spirits of Billie Holliday and Langston Hughes, Fannie Lou Hamer and Ida B. Well, and the witness of black artists, writers, preachers, and fighters for justice. And he remembers the victims, especially the 5,000 who perished during the lynching period. Through their witness he contemplates the greatest challenge of any Christian theology to explain how life can be made meaningful in the face of death and injustice.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bookworm12 - LibraryThing

The author compares the lynchings of black people to the crucifixion of Christ. While there's a fascinating and accurate parallel, not much was said beyond giving a history of lynching and showing the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - heggiep - LibraryThing

Although a bit repetitive, this is an enlightening, powerful, and carefully presented book. There is enough material covered in it that an essay on the topic would not have sufficed. A good read during these troubling #BlackLivesMatter days. Read full review

Contents

The Terrible Beauty of the Cross
30
The Recrucified Christ in Black Literary Imagination
93
Oh Mary Dont You Weep
120
Legacies of the Cross and the Lynching Tree
152
Notes
167
Index
197
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