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Moving the Rock
preview of book Moving the Rock
text of book Moving the Rock

Moving the Rock

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Publication Date: 2010
Category: General
Grades: Optional
Number of Pages: 253
Appropriate for: Faculty
Choice rating: 
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Scholar eBook Scholar eBook ISBN: 9780759113213  
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About this title

Moving the Rock portrays several generations of African American women whose families migrated from the South to the Pacific Northwest in the 1940s and 1950s. As members of a small storefront church in central Seattle, these women—grandmothers, mothers, daughters—lean on their faith and church to face the challenges of poverty, racism, ignorance, and health. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it is painfully obvious that many of us know little about what it is like to be poor and Black in the United States. These powerful, profound stories bring this group of women and their problems, and joys, vividly and movingly to life.

About author
Mary E Abrums

Mary E. Abrums, anthropologist and registered nurse, is associate professor in the nursing program at the University of Washington at Bothell.



Introduction: A Short History

Part I. Morning Sun Missionary Baptist Church
Chapter 1. Morning Sun Church and Its Leaders
Chapter 2. The Family
Chapter 3. Motherhood

Part II. The Women of Morning Sun Church
Chapter 4. Molly Lake Lander: "I Guess I Have to Go to Jesus"
Chapter 5. Caren Lake: "Having a Dream"
Chapter 6. Mahalia Lake: "I Don't Ask the Lord to Move the Mountain, Just Give Me the Strength to Climb It"
Chapter 7. Mable Jackson: "All I Asked the Lord for Was a Man with a Cigarette and a Job"
Chapter 8. Betty Jones: "I Like to Go!"
Chapter 9. Joann Jones Newton: "When God Comes, He's Getting Some of Every Race"
Chapter 10. Marie Jones Smith: "Getting that Made-Up Mind"
Chapter 11. Linda Wilson, Marie's Daughter: "All These Years I Have Become Stronger"

Part III. The Research Process
Chapter 12. The Research, the Women, and Me

Appendix: The Research Questions, Theories, and Methods


Abrums, Mary E. Moving the rock: poverty and faith in a black storefront church. AltaMira, 2010. 217p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780759113190. Reviewed in 2010oct CHOICE.

Abrums, a white anthropologist and nursing professor (Univ. of Washington, Bothell), was a participant-observer at a black storefront church in Seattle for 18 months. She set out to find out why poor black women had "poor health status." She discovered that the six women whose stories she tells did not think of themselves as in poor health; moreover, they thought that way of seeing them was insulting. Abrums concluded that her framing of the question was racist. Therefore, she set out to simply tell the women's stories as they told them. While the narratives are interesting as stories of real people, they do not lead Abrums to answer her original question, or any academic question.

Summing Up: Optional. Faculty. -- B. Weston, Centre College

Copyright © 2013 American Library Association
Abrums, an anthropologist and registered nurse, examines the lives of African American women members of the Morning Sun Church in the Central District of Seattle. Abrums spent 18 months observing and interviewing the women of Morning Sun, and the resulting stories are deeply engaging as individual narratives and compelling when taken as a whole. The work positively sparkles with the voices of these women as they discuss their struggles, joys, beliefs, health, and families. This book is undoubtedly academic, yet there is much here for the nonacademic reader to enjoy, too. VERDICT Engaging, beautifully written, surprising, and challenging in the best way possible, this is highly recommended for its fine, compelling writing as well as for its profound subject. Scholars of women's studies, religious studies, and anthropology should take particular note of this title, but it is strongly recommended to interested general readers as well.

— Library Journal, Starred Review, May 2010

Mary Abrums has written an honest and sensitive portrayal of African American families rarely found in today's literature. It took me back to an earlier time and place in my own life, and I experienced a full range of emotions as I read. I rejoice in the publication of this book.
— Lydia McAllister, Seattle University

The rich detail of these women's lives is wonderfully expressed through the eyes of the narrator as she relates their life stories within the cultural context of the Seattle community in which they live. The book presents authoritative research but reads like a fascinating novel and one quickly finds oneself immersed in the lives of the eight women who shared their life histories. Abrums paints a picture so compelling that I felt I was sitting in their homes with the women and could feel their exhaustion or exhilaration. By sharing their stories, these women remind us that we have more in common as human beings than we have differences.
— Mary de Chesnay, Kennesaw State University

In Moving the Rock, Abrums eloquently unfolds the religious beliefs and practices of the women of Morning Sun Church, a group of African American women who struggle to nurture their families and community members against tremendous odds. Written in a clear and engaging style, this book provides a major contribution to scholarship in womanist/feminist literature, religious studies, and the anthropology of working-class African Americans in the urban Northwest. The author's conscientious efforts to keep the voices of these women and their narratives at the forefront of this text give the reader an insider's perspective of how religious beliefs and practices empower women living at, near, or below the official poverty line in the United States.
— Ruth P. Wilson, San Jose State University


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