Wednesday, June 20, 2007
TOGETHER LET US SWEETLY LIVE:
THE SINGING AND PRAYING BANDS
JONATHAN DAVID AND RICHARD HOLLOWAY
This book is now published and is wonderful. To order: http://www.press.uillinois.edu/s07/david.html. Descendants of slaves, with ancestral and present trauma in the form of first servitude, then poverty, these families have kept alive consoling traditions. I am minded that in ancient times, millennia before Christ, kindness was counselled; in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the selfish criminal being devoured by a monster, the harmoniously married couple who have been generous to the poor, living their afterlife in beautiful gardens. Today, when I travel back to America I do not find kindness amongst the jet set. On planes one meets with coldness, with fear, with isolation. The courtesy, the kindness, the warmth, the humanity, one meets instead on Greyhound buses, now much my favoured form of travel.
There are many photographs of these white-garbed Blacks, and, like those by Karen Graffeo of the Rom, taken in love. There is the CD of the powerful haunting music, this democracy of music where all the people count, all their sorrows, all their joys. And the words of the hymns are pure poetry, for these had had ancestors who learned their Judaeo-Christianity from clandestine ministers who illegally taught them to read and write. See for this the story by Frances Trollope in Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw, where the white minister who secretly helps the slaves is himself lynched by the white community.
I heard Jesus say
I am the way, I am the root and branch of David. I am that I am.
You are the same God that heard Daniel when he prayed in the lion's den
Heard Rachel when she prayed in the cliffs of the mountain;
You heard the three Hebrew boys when they prayed in the fiery furnace.
You are the same God
That heard me one day
When I was lying.
Next door to Hell.
It is a book about faith, about kindness, about joy, about sacred poetry. It is exactly the book this library has needed for its section on trauma and indigenous and nomadic peoples. Its photographs are taken by my oldest son, Richard Holloway.
Posted by Julia Bolton Holloway at 4:40 PM