Extensive research was essential to the curatorial formation of Otherwise/Revival. The following list of reference materials were a part of that research. It summarizes the contents of some significant texts to illustrate their contribution to the concepts which give coherence and shape to the exhibition.
Butler, Anthea D. Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making a Sanctified World. University of North Carolina Press, 2012.
In Women in the Church of God in Christ, Anthea Butler explores gender roles in the largest Pentecostal denomination, the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). As the title would suggest, Butler gives an account of the religious and social struggles and victories of the women of COGIC. Focusing specifically on the history of the Women’s Department of the church, she describes the ways in which the COGIC women have challenged stereotypes and fought their way through the prescribed roles and limitations placed on them and reinforced throughout history by both the men of the church and a white-dominated society as well as the roles that they have made and reinforced for themselves in the Church of God in Christ.
In the chapter titled Calling, Butler explores the woman’s historic role in the Pentecostal church. Despite the accepted Pentecostal interpretation of scripture that states that the Spirit was poured out equally to all, women were at the time forbidden from preaching in the church in order to maintain their image and role as good and chaste homemakers which was perpetuated in order to combat the racial stereotypes against and vilification of African-American people at that time.
Butler further expounds on the differences between teacher and preacher and how the separation of these roles allowed for balance in spiritual authority and offered women the opportunity to gain a voice to influence their fellow church members. She then writes about the struggles that the Pentecostal church had in balancing their fundamental belief that the Spirit had empowered both men and women alike to preach and prophesy with their insistence on upholding the patriarchal gender norms of society. For a long time women struggled to find their accepted place in the Pentecostal church, as churches would grant and revoke rights as they pleased causing confusion and conflict amongst congregations. The majority of this chapter, though, focuses on the historic ministry and leadership of Lizzie Robinson over many COGIC women and the development of the COGIC Women’s Department.
Cox, Harvey Gallagher. Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-first Century. Da Capo Press, 2007.
In Fire From Heaven, Harvey Cox gives the reader a look into the Pentecostal movement in America and across the globe. He offers a detailed account of the history of this movement and its impact on Christianity. He also dives into the explosive and constant growth of Pentecostalism since Azusa Street and the way in which this refines our thoughts on religion as a whole and its future in our world.
In the chapter titled The Fire Falls in Los Angeles, Cox specifically focuses on the origin of this movement: the Azusa Street Revival. He gives insight into the original happenings of Pentecost in the biblical account and then connects this to the expectations of the people for a fresh and even more potent coming of the Spirit in present days leading to the second coming of Christ. Led by pastor William Joseph Seymour, the people gathering on Azusa Street in 1906 believed that they were witnessing and participating in this second pentecost. This chapter also gives a detailed account of Seymour’s life and his journey to Los Angeles, Azusa Street, and the revival. Cox also uses this chapter to investigate the appeal of the Azusa Street revival to the people of Los Angeles at the time, one major factor of this being that it opened the door to a racially and ethnically diverse congregation where all were invited to participate in worship together, as a unified church.
Hurston, Zora Neale. The Sanctified Church. Marlowe, 1998.
In the chapter titled The Sanctified Church, Hurston details the proceedings and inner-workings of Black religious expression. She describes the factors, qualifications, and normalities of a service in the Black church. This includes segments defining and detailing the Spirituals, conversions and visions, and shouting, as well as a sermon transcribed by the author herself.
Johnson, James Weldon. God’s Trombones: 7 Negro Sermons in Verse. Viking Pr., 1983.
God’s Trombones is a collection of seven poems written by James Weldon Johnson, all of them inspired by historic and classic sermons delivered by early African-American preachers. In the preface of this book, Johnson speaks of the importance and influence of the classic African-American sermon, as well as the preacher. He traces the history of the African-American preacher, including their role and efforts in the fight against slavery. Johnson also details the power and influence that the old-time preacher had amongst his congregation and the ways in which he would yield and practice this. Lastly, Johnson explains the motivation and inspiration behind the creation of these poems, as well as his process in writing them.
Sanders, Cheryl Jeanne. Saints in Exile: The Holiness-Pentecostal Experience in African American Religion and Culture. Oxford University Press, 1999.
(Summary of book as a whole)
Of particular interest are the third and fourth chapters of the book titled “In the Beauty of Holiness”: Ethics and Aesthetics in the Worship of the Saints and Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land: Gospel Music and Popular Culture. In the former, Sanders begins by walking the reader through the basic elements of sanctified worship, analyzing the content of three different narratives written by other authors about their experiences in Black Pentecostal worship services. She then moves on to the defining and characterizing of a “saint,” laying out the basic identifications of being saved and sanctified and the distinctions and theological differences of those in the Sanctified church.
In addition to this, Sanders also gives a description of the work of the Holy Spirit, explaining the differences between static and ecstatic forms of possession and the ways in which these inform the roles and activities of church-goers and leaders. Keeping with the theme of the book, worship in the sanctified church is then connected to exile and the author details the four characteristics of exilic worship: the holy dance, the “Yes” chant, the use of white-uniformed liturgical attendants, and the inclusion of announcements and the welcoming of visitors as liturgy. In the fourth chapter, Sanders explores Gospel music and its connection to and practice in the Sanctified Church as well as its reception and use in popular culture. This chapter traces the history of gospel music, detailing the influences that have shaped it into what we know today. The significant inspirations noted and expanded upon in the chapter include: European Protestant Hymnody, Spirituals, The Blues, Jazz, Soul Music, Gospel Rap, and Classical Music.
Yong, Amos, and Estrelda Y. Alexander. Afro-Pentecostalism: Black Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in History and Culture. New York University Press, 2011.
In Afro-Pentecostalism Amos Yong, along with the contribution of many other scholars, examines the American Pentecostal movement, exploring its history, theology, activities, issues, and its relationship and intersection with other denominations and culture as a whole. In the chapter titled Origins, Yong details the growth, opportunities, and general situation of the African-American community in Los Angeles at the founding of the Azusa Street Revival in 1906. He then gives an account of the African-American churches functioning in Los Angeles at the time, detailing the significance that the church held to this community and describing the specifics of different churches and denominations in the area. This discussion then leads to Yong’s report of the founding of the Azusa Street Mission and the beginnings of the Revival that was born from it. He gives a description of the “folk church” tradition in comparison to more formal Black congregations and how both of these were functioning in Los Angeles in 1906. The chapter concludes by noting the appeal that the Azusa Street Mission had to a very ethnically, racially, and socio-economically diverse group of church-goers and the precedent that this set for the future of the church.