Cover: When Sorrow Comes: The Power of Sermons from Pearl Harbor to Black Lives Matter, from Harvard University PressCover: When Sorrow Comes in HARDCOVER

When Sorrow Comes

The Power of Sermons from Pearl Harbor to Black Lives Matter

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Product Details


$45.00 • £36.95 • €40.50

ISBN 9780674988194

Publication Date: 04/13/2021


440 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


In this remarkable book, Melissa Matthes adds a new and important dimension to the recent literature on mourning and politics. When Sorrow Comes shows how the sermon functions as a significant political response to loss, helping to shape the polity in the aftermath of tragedy and crisis. The breadth and depth of Matthes’s analysis and the acuity of her insights make this an indispensable work of political theory for those concerned with understanding the past, present, and future of American democracy.—Simon Stow, author of American Mourning

In this brilliant study, Matthes reveals church sermons following harrowing national events as profound forms of civic education and reflection, akin to what tragic drama was for the ancient Greeks. Sermons tell us how to mourn, which in turn discloses who we are as a political culture. Original and timely, When Sorrow Comes is at once a stunning work of political theory and a window on the enduring pains and predicaments of American political life, especially but not only those at the site of its great racial wound.—Wendy Brown, author of In the Ruins of Neoliberalism

Melissa Matthes reminds us that in the weeks following a national crisis, faith leaders have incredible power to redefine how Americans think about whose lives have value and whose suffering matters. When Sorrow Comes tells a larger history of the evolving relationship between politics and pulpit in America, an understanding of which is more needed now than ever.—Jane Hong, author of Opening the Gates to Asia

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