Sermons on the Mounts in the Crescent City

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Any second-line route is likely to pass by any number of churches, but what I had never noticed until last week was how many of those churches have “Mount” in their names. There is Mount Triumph, Mount Carmel, Mount Olive, and all of this in a city well below sea level! Also of interest to me is the fact that so many of them seem to be the “Second” Mount Carmel, or what have you. “First” churches are fairly common, but the proliferation of “seconds” in New Orleans is interesting and certainly worthy of further study. The popularity of the song “Flee As A Bird to the Mountains” among older brass bands suggests that mountain imagery played a role in early African-American Christianity in New Orleans, for reasons that remain obscure. Of course, a lot of African people came to New Orleans from Haiti after the Haitian revolution, and the mountains there had been a place of refuge from slavery. One wonders if the imagery was spread by former Haitians to other African-Americans, and thus became part of the city’s unique heritage.

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