Becoming Human (Paper)

The Holy Spirit and the Rhetoric of Race

  • 9780664267223
  • 6 x 9
  • 162
  • 50.00
  • Paper
  • 066426722X
  • 11/8/2022
  • 7-10 days processing
$ 22.00


Discussions of racial difference always embody a story. The dominant story told in our society about race has many components, but two stand out: (1) racial difference is an essential characteristic, fully determining individual and group identity; and (2) racial difference means that some bodies are less human than others.

The church knows another story, says Luke Powery, if it would remember it. That story says that the diversity of human bodies is one of the gifts of the Spirit. That story’s decisive chapter comes at Pentecost, when the Spirt embraces all bodies, all flesh, all tongues. In that story, different kinds of materiality and embodiment are strengths to be celebrated rather than inconvenient facts to be ignored or feared. In this book, Powery urges the church to live up to the inclusive story of Pentecost in its life of worship and ministry. He reviews ways that a theology and practice of preaching can more fully exemplify the diversity of gifts God gives to the church. He concludes by entering into a conversation with the work of Howard Thurman on doing ministry to and with humanity in the light of the work of the Spirit.

Product Excerpts and Related Resources


“Two thousand years ago there were Arab, Cretan, and Roman (among other) tongues spoken on the streets of Jerusalem. It took a physician known as Luke to record these voices as declaring the wondrous and powerful works of God. In our fraught 2020s, we can thank another doctor (of divinity), Luke Powery, for translating the witnesses of (especially but not only) Black communities to all of us (including especially but not only white readers) so we can appreciate how these experiences testify to and declare the prophetic words of God for our time.” –Amos Yong, Professor of Theology in Mission, Fuller Seminary

“Pentecost is pedagogy for the human race. Turning toward the Spirit, Powery makes clear, implies a turning toward an incarnational God who sees difference differently and invites human beings to embrace their creatureliness as gift of the Spirit. Homiletics and cultural studies scholars will find here an academically robust, first-rate discussion on preaching and race, and religious practitioners will no doubt recognize that the wind of the Spirit has breathed on Powery’s pen.” —Kenyatta R. Gilbert, Professor of Homiletics, Howard University

“For those who struggle to develop an ecclesial theological response to racism, Powery says, Let us look to the Spirit of Pentecost for what we preach and how we practice the faith. A pneumatological response to racism is unfortunately rare to find in the theological academy, yet Powery’s meditation demonstrates both its fittingness and urgency; this work is resounding with sobering conviction and expectant hope.” —Daniel Castelo, William Kellon Quick Professor of Theology and Methodist Studies and Director, The Center for Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition, Duke University Divinity School


"Ultimately, Powery’s prophetic vision upends the racist frameworks that hinder the church's embrace of humanity and shows us how to dance with the Spirit. In a word: Dynamic.” –Donyelle C. McCray, Associate Professor of Homiletics, Yale Divinity School

“Powery’s impassioned ‘Spirit speech’ should be embraced by every pastor, seminary student, and congregation member.” –Charles L. Campbell, James T. and Alice Mead Cleland Professor Emeritus of Homiletics, Duke Divinity School

“He makes a convincing case that racialization deprives humanity of the possibility of being human together, an approach to human life he views as a theological imperative and a spiritual discipline. This is an inspiring read and highly recommended!” —HyeRan Kim-Cragg, Principal and Timothy Eaton Professor of Preaching at Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto

“In this age of division and factionalism, many have forgotten what it is to become human. There might not be any book that is more appropriate for this and every time for those that desire that our nation, church, and world be more humane.” —Frank A. Thomas, Director of the PhD Program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric, Christian Theological Seminary

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