This is a book about the often-overlooked spiritual gifts of many Black women. The author approaches his subject — Ms. Donna Haskins of Roxbury, Massachusetts — sociologically and anecdotally, but also personally, as his own story is in many ways wrapped up with that of hers. He portrays her as an extraordinary woman who “creates meaning to address the problems of inner-city life in places beyond the reach of established religious institutions and the theological doctrines on which they are founded.”
Ms. Donna is from racially segregated Boston — the Projects. The author, Onaje X. O. Woodbine, with degrees from Yale and Boston University, grew up in similar circumstances, but as a Boston youth was bussed to an affluent suburb for high school, where he excelled. Today he is assistant professor of philosophy and religion at American University. Woodbine tells Haskins’s story with power and poignancy, including the assaults and abuse that she, like so many Black people in the United States, have survived.
Ms. Donna has a “gift to make things happen with her words, to transgress the boundaries of linear time, and to teleport to other dimensions.” Yet, in her words, she gives “all the Glory and Honor to my savior Jesus Christ.” This will confuse many Christians.
But that's what is special about this story and this book. Ms. Haskins’s life experiences, teachings, and practices combine those of a Black Baptist and Pentecostal minister, a Catholic priest and exorcist, and Afro-Caribbean ways of understanding and communicating with the spirit world.