Making the wounded whole: An investigation of healing and identity in African American religious life and thought
Hicks, Derek Scott
Pinn, Anthony B.
Doctor of Philosophy
The research approach governing my work is interdisciplinary, including religious history, hermeneutics, theology, and sociology of religion with an emphasis on the intersections of religion and culture. My dissertation uncovers notions of healing through an attempt to transform social and racial reality within African American Christian thought and life. Making the Wounded Whole challenges the dominant assumption that black Christianity, is governed by a primary theological focus on corporate liberation. Accordingly, it uncovers a deep concern with healing---in relation to bodily, political, spiritual, and social restoration---as a theological thrust fueling black Christian religion. I reveal this concern through an interrogation of the bio-political and socio-political significance of enslavement and its consequences. This theme of healing and identity (re)formation manifests itself within various aspects of religious life and activity---among them are ritual and worship, aesthetic presentation, Scriptural interpretation, and general resistance to racial oppression. I argue that such practices are in consequence therapeutic, in that social and political imagination is recast in ways more suitable for a healthy existence. I locate these practices as a particular style of religious life and therefore a way of understanding the nature of black Christian experience. Ultimately, this work connects these ideas to normative Christo-religious practices found within the black enslaved experience during the antebellum period.
Black studies; Religion; Black history