Take Back What the Devil Stole: An African American Prophet’s Encounters in the Spirit World

Onaje X.O. Woodbine. Columbia Univ., $30 (272p) ISBN 978-0-231-19716-8
Woodbine (Black Gods of the Asphalt), a philosophy and religion professor at American University, presents a stirring ethnography of a Boston woman who claims to have spiritual gifts. Donna Haskins suffered significant pain and trauma growing up as a Black woman in a rough part of 1960s Boston. She barely survived a fire, struggled through school with an undiagnosed lead poisoning–induced learning disability, and endured several sexual assaults before adulthood. Woodbine interviews Haskins and offers her words to describe, in heartbreaking detail, her subsequent bouts with cancer and abusive romantic relationships: “the devil don’t want me here, been using my body to take me out from the beginning.” During a low point in Haskins’s early 40s, she agreed to attend Morning Star Baptist Church with her sister and began having visions of the spiritual realm—eventually developing what she believes are powers to combat demons which she’s used to guide others under her new name of “Child of Light.” While readers skeptical of Haskins’s claims will remain unconvinced, Woodbine’s explanation of Haskins’s complicated cosmology builds a rich portrait of her religious life and the ways spirituality has strengthened her. This accessible portrait of Haskins’s peculiar spiritualism will appeal to scholars of interfaith theology. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/29/2021
Release date: 03/01/2021
Genre: Religion
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-231-55202-8
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