Black Religion explores the complexity of the black spiritual imagination using the autobiographies of three prominent religious leaders. Looking at Malcolm X's journey from Christianity to Islam, social parasite to "race man," libertine to ascetic, Hart delves into the spiritual dimensions of Malcolm X's life. Hart then examines the affinities between Malcolm's spiritual journey and the journeys of Julius Lester and Jan Willis--none of whom conform to standard expectations of what it means to be a black person and a religious person. Hart argues that the Muslim, Judaic, and Buddhist commitments of these autobiographers show that the black spiritual imagination--religious, political, and personal--cannot be limited to the standard narrative of Black Religion, nor can spirituality be limited to religion.
"This book will be very useful for courses in the study of religious autobiography...Highly recommended." - Choice"Hart is an original thinker. In this new book, he challenges and subverts the prevailing narrative about Black Religion, namely, that it is essentially Protestant Christianity in blackface, by presenting a constructive reading of the autobiographies of three black figures whose spiritual journeys led them away from Protestant roots to embrace, respectively, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. He traces conjunctions and disjunctions between the lives of Malcolm X, Julius Lester, and Jan Willis - figures he artfully characterizes as 'Afro-Eccentric' - adding a Coda describing his perspective as author that articulates one of the most brilliant accounts of religion anywhere. By so doing, Hart revises and expands the scope of the very term Black Religion in a profoundly sophisticated way. The richness, breadth, and depth of Hart s intellect radiate from every page." - Melvin K. H. Peters, Professor of Religion, Duke University"Hart s 'Afro-Eccentric' readings of Malcolm X, Julius Lester, and Jan Willis offer not only a fascinating trope for interpreting Black Religion, his readings mark a distinctive and singular point of departure into the varieties of African American religious experience. Surpassing the most current scholarship on the deployment of religious autobiography and black religious experience, Hart s Afro-Eccentric readings set a new rigorous standard for the interpretation of difference in black religious hermeneutics. A novel force to be reckoned with for a very long time to come." - Victor Anderson, Professor of Christian Ethics, Vanderbilt Divinity School"Every now and then an iconoclastic, and deeply personal voice, breaks through to challenge dominant stories within a field. I believe William Hart's latest book, Black Religion, does exactly that." - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy
Introduction: Afro-Eccentricity and Autobiography Jahiliyyah& Jihad Hijrah& Hajj Julius Lester: Blackness& Teshuvah Janice Willis: Duhkha& Enlightenment Bluing the Note Coda: My Point of View as Author