Wednesday 18 January 2023

#edelweiss #bookreview: Gin, Jesus, and Jim Crow | Brendan J. J. Payne

Gin, Jesus, and Jim Crow: Prohibition and the Transformation of Racial and Religious Politics in the SouthGin, Jesus, and Jim Crow: Prohibition and the Transformation of Racial and Religious Politics in the South by Brendan J. J. Payne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

TBH... the main reason I picked this up was because I saw the cover and went "oh, that's the book my Facebook friend's husband wrote". But also, I agree with a lot of her views and I was just kaypo enough to figure why not since Edelweiss had it as a DRC for download.

It was fascinating to read about how so many things we take for granted as "Christian tradition" did not actually become "tradition" until about a hundred years ago. Which is really short when you look at how old Christianity really is. And it's also really weird to realise that so many things seen as "conservative" now were really... "liberal and progressive" ideas back then.

But it is also a deeper insight into how American Christianity dropped off the deep end.

What I did not expect to find was how uncannily racial politics back in early 1900s America align with racial politics in Malaysia in this century; you just have to replace "Christian" with "Muslim" and "White" with "Malay". Which is a terrible, terrible realisation. Except that I have hopes that our democracy is strong enough and old enough at this point to withstand the worst of it. (Bersih & #balikundi movements have been doing good work.)

But one thing the church needs to come back to is the traditional Christian understanding that:
regulating such morality was the role of the church, not the state, and the church ought not try to use the government to remove a man's liberty to choose, even if he chose to sin.
Because any time the church tries to do that, it becomes the oppressor.

Anyway! Gin, Jesus, and Jim Crow was a fascinating, if difficult, read. Which really also means I am out of touch with academic reading and I had a hard time slogging through some bits, maybe also because some of the terminology and phrasing were strange to me.

Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from LSU Press via Edelweiss. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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