Religion in a Changing World: Comparative Studies in Sociology

By Madeleine Cousineau | Go to book overview

outside of the United States recognize and embrace as its enduring strength and global appeal.


CONCLUSION

Walter Hollenweger's earlier-quoted observation that the global Pentecostal movement depended upon the Africanist roots of pentecostalism points to the importance of "the faith of the fathers [and mothers]" that Du Bois observed to be the creative reorganization and elaboration of African religious foundations. The religion that black people in the United States had devised, this manifestation of the "souls of black folk," was a religion that had enabled a people to resist the material and psychic destruction aimed at their lives. The true gift of pentecostalism is the production of a religion that has enabled people simply to resist being crushed. The discovery of pentecostalism and charismatic religion by the bourgeois mainstream in America and the rest of the First World masks the importance of this gift in an obsession with doctrine, theology, and dogma. The peoples of the Third World understand and affirm what Africans encountering Christianity in North America understood and affirmed so long ago--the power of the spirit to strengthen, restore, heal, and empower in all of the diverse and sundry ways that the oppressed may need.

W. E. B. Du Bois understood profoundly, in a way that we can only begin to appreciate at the turn of the twenty-first century, that the peoples on the underside of an oppressive global economy represent the most important hope for subverting forces of destruction. The religion of the Spirit is the locus of cultural agency. Marx talked about the role of religion in a spiritless situation, but the social, ecological, political, economic, and cultural consequences of colonialism, conquest, and enslavement have been aggressively soul-shattering throughout the world. pentecostalism's global appeal is the power of the Spirit to re-gather and remember that which has been shattered and trampled. Aime Cesaire ( 1955), describing the horrific power of colonialism in the Third World, spoke passionately of the nations, cultures, and gods trampled underfoot and destroyed by the forces of Europe and America. The Sanctified Church's gift to the world--this diverse, maligned, and ignored institution that grew up in the midst of "a phase" of an inequitous world system, "the color line"--was and remains the constant affirmation of the resurrecting, healing, bracing, and empowering role of the Spirit and its ability to enable resistance to the destructiveness of global inequality.


REFERENCES

Adamson Christopher R. 1983. "Punishment After Slavery: Southern State Penal Systems, 1865-1890." Social Problems 30(5):555-569.

Cesaire Aime. 1972 [ 1955]. Discourse on Colonialism. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Du W. E. B. Bois 1989 [ 1903]. The Souls of Black Folk. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell.

-----. 1975 [ 1924]. The Gift of Black Folk. Millwood, NY: Kraus-Thomson Organization Limited.

-174-

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