The Significance of Religion in 12 Years a Slave

22 Nov

When you go to see 12 Years a Slave, certainly you will be struck by the heartbreaking acts of cruelty endured by Northup and other slaves as they are ripped from their families, stripped and sold to the highest bidder, lashed for possessing a simple sliver of soap. And you will most likely be in awe of the determination and resilience of Northup and the many enslaved individuals that he encounters. One of the most necessary and important aspects of the film is its realistic portrayal of slave agency as they pushed back against the everyday problems they encountered on the plantation from helping fellow slaves escape punishment to obtaining a piece of paper and improvised ink. But woven throughout this compelling story is an omnipresent religious narrative that speaks to the power of belief in a society in the balance. There were as many interpretations of the Christian religion in the South as there were slave owners and slave communities. This film accomplishes the difficult task of conveying that diversity while also portraying religion as one of the most valuable and dangerous tools in the slave South.

So concludes Charity R. Carney in her cogent post on the film 12 Years a Slave at Religion in American History. You can read her entire post here:

Religion in American History: “Now That’s Scripture”: The Significance of Religion in 12 Years a Slave.

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