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As a prelude to this vast subject, I would like to read a passage which is becoming part of my contemporary canon, a scene from Toni Morrison's novel Beloved. She describes a worship service--though it is indeed quite different from most of our liturgies! This service is led by a holy woman named Baby Suggs. She is an elderly black woman, born into slavery and later bought into freedom by her son. Now, she lives in her own home on her own piece of ground near a little town in Ohio. Every Saturday, when warm weather came, Baby Suggs would gather the people--all of them former slaves--in the Clearing (with a capital C) ... "In the heat of every Saturday afternoon, she sat in the Clearing while the people waited among the trees."

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