Books by Barbara A. Holmes
Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church
Joy Unspeakable focuses on the aspects of the black church that point beyond particular congregational gatherings toward a mystical and communal spirituality not within the exclusive domain of any denomination. Holmes‘s research--through oral histories, church records, and written accounts--details not only ways in which contemplative experience is built into African American collective worship but also the legacy of African monasticism, a history of spiritual exemplars, and unique meditative worship practices.
Fortress Press, 2nd Edition (2017)
Liberation and the Cosmos: Conversations with the Elders
The rich legacy of black critical thought, creative expression, and religious reflection come together in this imagined conversation among the elders about the shape and conditions of black liberation.
Barbara Holmes has defined key issues of freedom and identity, hypothesizing a meeting of the ancestors assembled "on the other side" to discuss them. Imagine conversations between Barbara Jordan and Thurgood Marshall on what freedom looks like in relation to law and politics, or between Tupac Shakur, Nina Simone,and James Baldwin on art, culture, and the liberation of the mind. A unique resource for understanding the luminaries of liberation and an important reflection on the contemporary task of black liberation.
Fortress Press, 2008
Race and the Cosmos: An Invitation to View the World Differently
In Race and the Cosmos, Barbara Holmes boldly suggests that theoretical physics and cosmology have the power to break through our stalled and difficult discussions about race. At the intersection of ethics, cosmology, and physics, a new view of human life is emerging—a view not neatly divided along lines of race, ethnicity, class, or sexual orientation. Human life at cosmic and quantum levels has a unity independent of external social categories such as science and religion.The ways that modern culture defines us can no longer provide spiritual connections, Holmes says. Quantum and cosmic metaphors about self, society, and God point to origins, mysteries, and ultimate things. The worlds of cosmology and quantum mechanics offer us the resonance and rhetoric of a multi-dimensional universe, and give us new ways to talk about the individual and communal quest for moral fulfillment. The language of cosmology can replace older ways of thinking and talking about race and ethnicity. This new language unifies rather than divides, in a cosmic universe that is both staggering and healing in its human/divine scope.
Dreaming is an ordinary practice that weaves the mystery of consciousness into everyday life. On any given night, we can experience lucid visions, nightmares, or prophetic dreams that invite us to see the world differently. Christians are betrothed to a God who dreams. As the book of Genesis unfolds, we find God busily untangling the chaos in the cosmos. On the seventh day, God rests and dreams of worlds that teem with life. We know that God dreams because humans, who are made in God's image, do as well. This book connects Christian traditions and dream stories to our everyday lives so that we might engage the mysteries of life.
Fortress Press, 2012
A Private Woman in Public Spaces: Barbara Jordan's Speeches on Ethics, Public Religion, and Law
Barbara Jordan was a private woman in public spaces. She emerged from the obscurity of Houston’s segregated Fifth Ward to become the first African American Congresswoman elected from Texas since Reconstruction and a keynote speaker at two national Democratic conventions. Although her public career began in politics, she soon became known for her ethics, her vision of community, and her passion for education and public service. Jordan challenged the nation to reclaim constitutional ideals, adhere to moral principles, and commit to a pluralism that was dynamic and transformative. In her speeches she emerges as a woman who views public life as an opportunity to share the very best that the human spirit can conceive. This provocative and creative work offers the first comprehensive analysis of Jordan’s written speeches, with particular emphasis on the period that begins with the Watergate years and ends with her immigration initiatives. Ethics, public religion, and law are the three themes that predominate in Jordan’s speeches. On these themes, Jordan’s voice is heard in juxtaposition with contemporaries Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Thurgood Marshall, Rabbi Abraham Heschel, bell hooks, and others.
Trinity Press International, 2000