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Toward a Womanist Homiletic

Katie Cannon, Alice Walker and Emancipatory Proclamation

Series:

Donna E. Allen

The sermon is a major theological voice in the Black church; it carries enormous influence and is traditionally and predominantly a Christian-based theoethical construct. Through the sermon, the preacher negotiates the contours of African American sacred and secular culture. The congregation is invited to examine social morals and values according to the faith claims of the sermon.
Toward a Womanist Homiletic builds on the work of Katie G. Cannon and Alice Walker to offer a womanist paradigm for analyzing the sermons of Black women and proposes the content of a womanist homiletic. This womanist homiletic is a foundational construct that includes an examination of theological language, the insights on the ‘trans-rational’ nature of preaching and the function of embodiment and performed identity in preaching. It also includes insights from a womanist critique of language in Black preaching, particularly the prevalence of derogatory language about women in the sacred rhetoric of Black preaching.

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Introduction 1

Extract

Introduction Womanist thought emerged in 1985 as a methodological perspec- tive used by African-American women scholars in religion. The word “womanist” was coined by Alice Walker in 1983: Womanist 1. From womanish. (Opp. Of “girlish,” i.e., frivolous, irresponsible, not serious.) A black feminist or feminist of color. From the black folk expres- sion of mothers to female children, “You acting womanish,” i.e., like a woman. Usually referring to outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful behavior. Wanting to know more and in greater depth than is considered “good” for one. Interested in grown-up doings. Acting grown up. Being grown up. Interchangeable with another black folk expression: “you trying to be grown.” Responsible. In charge. Serious. 2. Also: A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or nonsexually. Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, wom- en’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength. Sometimes loves individual men, sexually and/or nonsexually. Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female. Not a separatist, except periodically, for health. Traditionally univer- salist, as in: “Mama, why are we brown, pink, and yellow, and our cousins are white, beige, and black? Ans.: “Well, you know the colored race is just like a flower garden, with every color flower represented.” Traditionally capable, Allen_Book.indb 1 03/12/12 3:23 PM 2 toward a womanist homiletic as in: “Mama, I’m walking to Canada and I’m taking you and a bunch of other slaves with me.” Reply: “It wouldn’t be the first time.” 3. Loves music....

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