Each month, we ask a member of the Vanderbilt Divinity School faculty to recommend a book they are currently reading. Our May recommendation is offered by Dale P. Andrews, Distinguished Professor of Homiletics, Social Justice, and Practical Theology.
I find Joseph Evans’ text, Lifting the Veil of Eurocentrism: The Du Boisian Hermeneutic of Double Consciousness, to be extremely engaging and quite an open, critical dialogue. His previous scholarship in African American preaching and in homiletics-at-large sets up this text by studying developments in rhetorical strategies and styles that evolve in cross-cultural contexts and build upon rich traditions, both classical and hermeneutical.
Evans has carried this research into a critical dialogue with church traditions and cultural studies in this book published just this year by The African Press. This press is an important publishing house to critical studies dealing with cultural scholarship engaging various aspects of Pan-African research. Evans’ approach to homiletics is an exercise integrating historical cultural studies and practical theological thinking. How contexts and traditions interchange in the practices of learning ministry raise vital questions that underscore methodology in homiletics, practical theology, and black church traditions. Evans’ gift here cultivates Lifting the Veil beyond even the clear parameters of its own title. He explores the hermeneutics that unravel the veil of marginalization of black life. Evans invites us to peer pass the veil behind which black life struggles through the distorted lens of inferiority that Eurocentric culture not merely created, but relies upon still. Evans re-establishes a paradigm shift away from gazing to perceiving the construction and function of Pan-African double-consciousness. He clarifies how this lens is multi-focal; that is, it offer a lens into the intertextuality and signification of sacred rhetoric, song, and dance in the sociopolitical, psychosocial, and aesthetically black “theo-ethic-centric” meta-narratives for black life, Biblical interpretation, and preaching itself. Evans calls for prophetic seers, and offers quite a discerning vision in kind. I plan to use this text this coming fall semester (2014) in my course, “Oratory and Rhetoric for Proclamation.” It promises to be rather useful in grasping how culture and human struggles shape spiritual, religious, and communal folk practices like preaching and aesthetics comprising our faith claims and traditions.