Drenched in the Spirit

An ambitious National Public Radio series on the history of African-American sacred music is a cause for rejoicing

The sacred is saturated with being. Sacred power means reality.

-- Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and The Profane

"I just feel good all over when I sing gospel songs."

-- Mahalia Jackson

In pop music, lyrics about sex and violence are often crystal clear. Talk of God, though plentiful, is usually veiled or mixed up with more worldly matters. Prince and Madonna peddle images of salvation but marinate them with eroticism. In one of his songs, rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg imagines confronting a supernatural being in a near-death experience -- but he doesn't make clear whether it's God or the devil....

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