Cross and the Lynching Tree
James H. Cone;
Number of pages: 224
- "One of the Top 11 Religion Books of the Year," The Huffington Post
- First Place Winner in Theology, Catholic Press Association
- Gold Medal Winner, Independent Book Publishers Book Awards
"The cross and the lynching tree are the two most emotionally charged symbols in the history of the African American community. In this powerful new work, theologian James H. Cone explores these symbols and their interconnection in the history and souls of black folk. Both the cross and the lynching tree represent the worst in human beings and at the same time a thirst for life that refuses to let the worst determine our final meaning. For African Americans, the image of Jesus, hung on a tree to die, powerfully grounded their faith that God was with them, even in the suffering of the lynching era.
In a work that spans social history, theology, and cultural studies, Cone explores the message of the spirituals and the power of the blues; the passion and death of Emmet Till and the engaged vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.; he invokes the spirits of Billie Holliday and Langston Hughes, Fannie Lou Hamer and Ida B. Wells, and the witness of black artists, writers, preachers, and fighters for justice. And he remembers the victims, especially the 5,000 who perished during the lynching period. Through their witness he contemplates the greatest challenge of any Christian theology—to explain how life can be made meaningful in the face of death and injustice.
"No one has explored the spiritual world of African Americans with the depth or breadth of Cone. Here he turns his attention to two symbols that dominated not only the spiritual world but also the daily life of African Americans in the twentieth century. In their inextricable tie, he finds both the terror and hope that governed life under violent racism as well as potent symbols of the African American past and present in the United States.”
—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
“Once again James Cone demonstrates why he is indispensable as an interpreter of faith, race, and the American experience.”
“James Cone is a world-historical figure in twentieth-century Christian theology. The Cross and the Lynching Tree is a powerful and painful song for hope in our dance with mortality—a song Cone courageously has led for over forty years!”
—Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary"