New book examines the sexual politics of black churches


Q HHow does the book illustrate how black churches have participated in recent conversations on issues such as marriage equality, reproductive justice, and transgender visibility?

A. The book engages these discussions from several angles. Some chapters are written for academic experts. Others are geared towards a more public audience. There are chapters that readers might find more practical. For example, two chapters present different ways to engage the Bible in rethinking public debates about gender and sexuality. Two other chapters suggest models for preaching about sex, or about the link between body and mind.

There are also chapters that analyze different dimensions of black Christian practice, historical and contemporary, and focus on a range of themes, including patterns of black masculinity, kinship structures and media ministries. And then there are chapters that serve to model the complexity of the kinds of conversations the book hopes to encourage – in academic and religious contexts, and for general public discourse.

Q What have you read recently that you would recommend?

A. Most of my recent reading has evolved in three distinct directions: books that help me with what I write, books on the curriculum of what I currently teach, and books that my sons are reading. In the first category, I’ve done a lot of reading recently that helped me finish a book that’s coming out at the end of this year. While reading this, I learned a lot from The terms of order: political science and the myth of leadership by Cedric Robinson. And Erica Edwards’ foreword to the new edition has been particularly helpful in reflecting on religion, and black churches in particular, within the larger body of Robinson’s work, which rightly receives so much attention. in debates about black studies right now.

Q What’s on your nightstand now?

A. This question leads into the third category I mentioned above – what my sons read. I’m a little behind on this, but Nic Stone Dear Martin— about a teenager who begins writing letters to Martin Luther King, Jr. as he navigates the complexities of his social world — is current reading. I have only just started it, but I hope to finish it soon, because my youngest has been asking me for several weeks now. If I’m being honest, the item on my nightstand that’s gotten the most attention lately is my iPhone, as I’m still dealing with a Wordscapes habit that started shortly after the shutdown in Spring 2020 .

Q What are you teaching this semester?

A. I teach the second semester of Contemporary Civilization. This is my first year teaching in the core curriculum at Columbia, so the learning curve has been steep. But it did, I think, help me understand Colombian culture better. It also allowed me to revisit some books I hadn’t read in over a decade and compelled me to read, for the first time, others that maybe I should have read years ago. years old.

by Adam Smith The Wealth of Nationsby Jeremy Bentham An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislationand Mary Wollstonecraft A demand for women’s rights have been on the program for the past few weeks. Each of these texts has proven useful in reflecting on so many of the issues we face today, from the contours of capitalism, to issues of criminal justice, to debates about gender and equality.


Check out the books to learn more about Columbia faculty publications.

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