On the Lived Theology Reading List: Hurtin’ Words

Hurtin' Words: Debating Family Problems in the Twentieth-Century South, by Ted OwnbyDebating Family Problems in the Twentieth-Century South

In Hurtin’ Words, Ted Ownby considers how a wide range of writers, thinkers, activists, and others defined family problems in the twentieth-century American South. Rather than attempting to define the experience of an archetypal “southern family,” Ownby looks broadly at contexts such as political and religious debates about divorce and family values, southern rock music, autobiographies, and more to reveal how people in the South used the concept of the family as a proxy for imagining a better future or happier past.

In the civil rights period, many embraced an ideal of Christian brotherhood as a way of transcending divisions. Opponents of civil rights denounced “brotherhoodism” as a movement that undercut parental and religious authority. Others, especially in the African American community, rejected the idea of family crisis altogether, working to redefine family adaptability as a source of strength.

In this engaging work, Ownby shows that it was common for both African Americans and whites to discuss family life in terms of crisis, but they reached very different conclusions about causes and solutions.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Coming from one of the most brilliant and thoughtful analysts of the American South, Ted Ownby’s Hurtin’ Words is indispensable for understanding the many ways that southerners defined the problems of family life and why those definitions mattered so much.”—Marjorie J. Spruill, author of Divided We Stand

“An always-interesting and often-fascinating look into the way the family was written and talked about in the twentieth-century South. Ownby offers a remarkably fresh way to think about family and region, race and gender.”—Richard King, University of Nottingham

For more information on the publication, click here.

Ted Ownby is director of the Center of Southern Culture and a professor in history and Southern studies at the University of Mississippi.

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Lenten Reading Guide: Dorothy Day

“I truly love sweet clover in God and thank him” (151).
We’re spending the first half of this week with Dorothy Day and author Carlene Bauer. This chapter explores the conflict of flesh and spirit and how Day found relief from that conflict in the sacraments and through the beauty she saw everywhere in the world.
Join the conversation in our special Lenten Can I Get a Witness? Facebook group.


Lenten Reading Guide: Howard Kester

“These cockeyed people who go about talking of love and good-will in the midst of all this oppression and hell make me pretty tired,” Kester said. “We won’t love people into the kingdom, we’ve got to bust this damn society to hell before love can find a place in it.”

We are grateful to be spending the next few days with Howard Kester through the writing of Peter Slade.

Join the conversation in our special Lenten Can I Get a Witness? Facebook group.

Lenten Reading Guide: Yuri Kochiyama

In chapter three, author Grace Kao shares the story of Yuri Kochiyama. 

“…public profiles of Yuri outside of Asian American circles have typically emphasized the longevity of her activist career and the remarkable, cross-racial solidarity she showed with others in numerous campaigns. While such portraits are technically correct, they remain incomplete insofar as they leave out two key aspects of her biography. The first is the role religion, specifically a service-oriented and this-worldly form of Christianity, played as a motivating force in her life. The second is the explicit identification of unjust imprisonment as the issue Yuri felt most passionate about” (65).

Join the conversation in our special Lenten Can I Get a Witness? Facebook group.

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Co-editor and contributor Dan Rhodes writes, “Nothing may capture the arc of his witness like these words from his ‘Prayer of the Farmworkers’ Struggle,’ where he pleads: ‘Show me the suffering of the most miserable / So I will know my peoples’ plight / Free me to pray for others….Help us to love even those that hate us / So that we may change this world'” (36).