Live Long and Prosper: How Black Megachurches Address HIV/AIDS and Poverty in the Age of Prosperity Theology

Sandra L Barnes, Author
Sandra L. Barnes. Fordham Univ., $90 (256p) ISBN 978-0-82324-956-5
Paperback - 242 pages - 978-0-8232-4957-2
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Barnes, a Vanderbilt University sociologist who has studied black mega-churches extensively, brings an interdisciplinary perspective to the contemporary phenomenon of the black mega-church and the appeal of prosperity theology. She homes in on a small sample (there aren't that many to study) and listens intently to what church pastors have to say, after first arguing that pastors are a key to understanding what their churches are willing, and unwilling, to do. Barnes has a good ear for what she hears about at "the corner"- the real neighborhood in which a church's ministry happens- and for the theological resonance of what pastors have to say. Moreover, she's familiar with what everyone else has said, as her impressive bibliography demonstrates. That homework and good fieldwork allows her to make a nuanced argument about ways prosperity theology does and doesn't represent real community beliefs. Such nuance gives the empirical lie to the trendy notion that "the black church is dead." (Nov.)
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