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The Spirituals and the Blues

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  80 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Cone explores two classic aspects of African-American culture--the spirituals and the blues. He tells the captivating story of how slaves and the children of slaves used this music to affirm their essential humanity in the face of oppression. The blues are shown to be a this-worldly expression of cultural and political rebellion. The spirituals tell about the attempt to ca ...more
Paperback, 141 pages
Published October 1st 1992 by Orbis Books
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Jason Gordon
I have to say that this book is wonderfully written. Dr. Cone is quite at home talking about Christianity in the African American community. Christianity in the African American community shares the same iconography as the Christianity of whites, but the iconography in the former community is interpreted differently in so far as these icons are imbued with African traditions. Dr. Cone uses the spirituals to provide a cogent reading/interpretation of African American/Black Christianity and there ...more
Theon Hill
Cone offers an excellent analysis of the theological, historical, and social roots of spirituals and the blues. While I disagree with certain tenets of Cone's liberation theology, his perspective gives him keen insight into the vital role that these forms of music played in African American cultural life as people of color have sought to maintain their humanity against the backdrop of America's vicious legacy of White Supremacy.
Izaiah Dawkins
Dr.Cone is a master at making a clear connection between pain and music. If you understand that the best music,that transcends time ,comes from pain. Loved the book.
1972 interpretation of black/slave theology and the blues as expressions of total [slave] black experience. Slightly inconsistent, in my opinion, but thoughtful.
Charles Williams
Great book on how the old Negro Spirituals messages was analogous to major themes in the Blues.
This was definitely my favorite Cone book for two reasons.

First, I think he elaborates more on what eschatological hope means in his theology. It's a topic that comes up frequently in his writing and it was good to hear some elaboration.

Second, Cone virtually articulates certain aspects of Christus Victor atonement theory VERY clearly. For this reason, I find his theology a bit more tenable because it can be connected to Orthodox Christianity (Christus Victor being the main atonement theory unti
Joe T.
This was a great book. I would like to see similar treatment given to rap music.
While I am not in agreement with liberation theology as a systematic theology, Cone offers some excellent, important, and truthful observations about the theolgy preached through the spirituals. Additionally, Cone makes some important obsetrvatins about the blues and the blues musician/singer being a prophetic voice of the community in the truth telling senseof the word.
A nice discourse on the roots of the spirituals and the blues. More of a theological discourse. Art as an expression of suffering... yet also a healing within that suffering. Paradoxical... Cone does a nice job of explaining it.
"The power of song in the struggle for black survival--that is what the spirituals and blues are about."

One of the best books on the subject of the spirituals and the blues and their relation to the soul. Highly recommended.
Thought-provoking, but this examination is little more than the tip of an iceburg.
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James Hal Cone is an advocate of Black liberation theology, a theology grounded in the experience of African Americans, and related to other Christian liberation theologies. In 1969, his book Black Theology and Black Power provided a new way to articulate the distinctiveness of theology in the black Church. James Cone’s work was influential and political from the time of his first publication, and ...more
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