American Prophets: Seven Religious Radicals and Their Struggle for Social and Political Justice

Princeton University Press
Free sample

American Prophets sheds critical new light on the lives and thought of seven major prophetic figures in twentieth-century America whose social activism was motivated by a deeply felt compassion for those suffering injustice.

In this compelling and provocative book, acclaimed religious scholar Albert Raboteau tells the remarkable stories of Abraham Joshua Heschel, A. J. Muste, Dorothy Day, Howard Thurman, Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Fannie Lou Hamer—inspired individuals who succeeded in conveying their vision to the broader public through writing, speaking, demonstrating, and organizing. Raboteau traces how their paths crossed and their lives intertwined, creating a network of committed activists who significantly changed the attitudes of several generations of Americans about contentious political issues such as war, racism, and poverty. Raboteau examines the influences that shaped their ideas and the surprising connections that linked them together. He discusses their theological and ethical positions, and describes the rhetorical and strategic methods these exemplars of modern prophecy used to persuade their fellow citizens to share their commitment to social change.

A momentous scholarly achievement as well as a moving testimony to the human spirit, American Prophets represents a major contribution to the history of religion in American politics. This book is essential reading for anyone who is concerned about social justice, or who wants to know what prophetic thought and action can mean in today's world.

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About the author

Albert J. Raboteau is the Henry W. Putnam Professor of Religion Emeritus at Princeton University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Sep 12, 2016
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Pages
248
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ISBN
9781400874408
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Americas (North, Central, South, West Indies)
History / Modern / 20th Century
History / Social History
Religion / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The fascinating story of Franklin Roosevelt, the Greatest Generation, and the freedoms they won, is a “stirring, heady dose of American history by a…progressive thinker” (Kirkus Reviews).

On January 6, 1941, the Greatest Generation gave voice to its founding principles, the Four Freedoms: Freedom from want and from fear. Freedom of speech and religion. In the name of the Four Freedoms they fought the Great Depression. In the name of the Four Freedoms they defeated the Axis powers. In the process they made the United States the richest and most powerful country on Earth. And, despite a powerful, reactionary opposition, the men and women of the Greatest Generation made America freer, more equal, and more democratic than ever before.

Harvey Kaye gives passionate voice to the Greatest Generation and argues not only that the root of their “greatness” stemmed from their commitment to equality, change, and progressive politics, but why modern generations should follow their lead. In Kaye’s hands, history becomes a call for action. Now he retells this generation’s full story and reclaims their progressive influence throughout the twentieth century.

Through the words of civil rights protestors, authors, and congressmen, Kaye argues that the most progressive generation in America history not only stopped Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan, but made America and the world freer, more equal, and more democratic—and that modern generations only honor them by following their lead. The Fight for the Four Freedoms “will stir its intended audience, while illustrating what astute politicians and historians recognize: Political struggle is as much a battle over our past as it is over our present and future” (Cleveland Plain Dealer).
The specter of global war loomed large in President Franklin Roosevelt's mind as he prepared to present his 1941 State of the Union address. He believed the United States had a role to play in the battle against Nazi and fascist aggression already underway in Europe, yet his rallying cry to the nation was about more than just national security or why Americans should care about a fight still far overseas. He instead identified how Americans defined themselves as a people, with words that resonated and defined the parameters of American politics and foreign policy for generations. Roosevelt framed America's role in the conflict, and ultimately its role in forging the post-war world to come, as a fight for freedom. Four freedoms, to be exact: freedom of speech, freedom from want, freedom of religion, and freedom from fear. In this new look at one of the most influential presidential addresses ever delivered, historian Jeffrey A. Engel joins together with five other leading scholars to explore how each of Roosevelt's freedoms evolved over time, for Americans and for the wider world. They examine the ways in which the word "freedom" has been used by Americans and others, across decades and the political spectrum. However, they are careful to note that acceptance of the freedoms has been far from universal--even within the United States. Freedom from want, especially, has provoked clashes between those in favor of an expanded welfare state and proponents of limited government from the 1940s to the present day. In this sweeping look at the way American conceptions of freedom have evolved over time,The Four Freedoms brings to light a new portrait of who Americans were in 1941 and who they have become today in their own eyes-and in the eyes of the entire world.
Description: Albert Raboteau was born into a Catholic family in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, three months after his father was shot and killed by a white man. It was during the 1940s, when blacks couldn't swim at the same beach as whites, when the priest gave communion to white Catholics first and made others wait. In a moving account of his life, Raboteau tells how the boy grew into a man, married, became a success as a college administrator, then learned sorrow, lost his way and had to start over again. His is an American spiritual journey that is redolent of sacramental Christianity marking the sacredness of time, place, and community. The journey brought him to a conversation that reconciled him to his own past, including his religious heritage, his African roots, and his family members. In the end his spiritual quest became a journey home, to a human circle that opened to him and brought him to God. Endorsements: ""If you want to see why Albert Raboteau is among the most elegant writers now contemplating the most important things, begin with his brief spiritual autobiography, A Sorrowful Joy. Next read the epilogue A Fire in the Bones. Then return to Slave Religion, the book for which he is famous, and you will understand why it first moved you as deeply as it did."" --Jeffrey Stout, author of Blessed Are the Organized About the Contributor(s): Albert J. Raboteau is the Henry W. Putnam Professor of Religion at Princeton University. The text of this book was originally delivered as a Harold M. Wit Lecture at Harvard University Divinity School.
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.

A fascinating, accessible introduction to Islam from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot and host of Believer

FINALIST FOR THE GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD 

In No god but God, internationally acclaimed scholar Reza Aslan explains Islam—the origins and evolution of the faith—in all its beauty and complexity. This updated edition addresses the events of the past decade, analyzing how they have influenced Islam’s position in modern culture. Aslan explores what the popular demonstrations pushing for democracy in the Middle East mean for the future of Islam in the region, how the Internet and social media have affected Islam’s evolution, and how the war on terror has altered the geopolitical balance of power in the Middle East. He also provides an update on the contemporary Muslim women’s movement, a discussion of the controversy over veiling in Europe, an in-depth history of Jihadism, and a look at how Muslims living in North America and Europe are changing the face of Islam. Timely and persuasive, No god but God is an elegantly written account that explains this magnificent yet misunderstood faith.

Praise for No god but God
 
“Grippingly narrated and thoughtfully examined . . . a literate, accessible introduction to Islam.”—The New York Times
 
“[Reza] Aslan offers an invaluable introduction to the forces that have shaped Islam [in this] eloquent, erudite paean to Islam in all of its complicated glory.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
 
“Wise and passionate . . . an incisive, scholarly primer in Muslim history and an engaging personal exploration.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Acutely perceptive . . . For many troubled Muslims, this book will feel like a revelation, an opening up of knowledge too long buried.”—The Independent (U.K.)
 
“Thoroughly engaging and excellently written . . . While [Aslan] might claim to be a mere scholar of the Islamic Reformation, he is also one of its most articulate advocates.”—The Oregonian
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