Our friend Paul Harvey, the proprietor of Religion in American History and a Professor of History at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, has had a banner month in September. First, his new book with Edward J. Blum, The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012) has just been published. Then the authors got a nice bit of publicity from the Chronicle of Higher Education a few weeks ago when it published a brief explanation of their argument, along with some thoughtful comments about Mormonism, Mitt Romney, and representations of Barack Obama as a Christlike figure.
The book ranges over the entire course of American religious history, from puritan prohibitions on representing Christ at all, to Mormon imaginings of a blue-eyed, phenotypically northern European-looking Jesus, to the emergence of a black Jesus in the Civil Rights era. As the publisher’s website suggests, “[t]he color of Christ still symbolizes America’s most combustible divisions, revealing the power and malleability of race and religion from colonial times to the presidency of Barack Obama.”
But that’s not all! Last week, I got an e-mail from Fraguy while he was at Denver International Airport, reporting that Harvey and Blum had published an opinion piece in the New York Times about “Fighting over God’s Image.” They point out that Americans bloviating over “Muslim rage” about recent profane American representations of the prophet Muhammad overlook the fact that “Americans have had their own history of conflict, some of it deadly, over displays of the sacred.” Continue Reading »