By E. Kornegay
Kornegay's wonderful and insightful use of James Baldwin's literary genius deals a fashion ahead that delivers to beat the divide among faith and sexuality that's of an important value not just for black church and theology yet for socio-political-religious and theological discourse generally.
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Extra info for A Queering of Black Theology: James Baldwin’s Blues Project and Gospel Prose
The metaphors of blackness sublates puritanism, which is the “real issue that persists beneath the surface” of American Protestantism and the theological terror produced by it. ”77 Religion made him more aware that his choices for human relief—somebodiness—were bound to an accursed past and despised present. In the same way that we, for white people, were the descendants of Ham, and were cursed forever, white people were, for us, the descendants of Cain. 78 Puritanism is exempt from the social and historical development of the Protestant underpinnings of black religious tradition and imagination.
Baldwin’s rhetorical treatment of Christianity throughout his writings focuses on what he sees as its fatal flaw, namely, a linguistic and theological anthropology of color hierarchy. Baldwin sees this Christianity exemplified linguistically in the puritanical ideal of America that “considered black people to be less human than [white Christians]” in the Calvinist scheme of divine election in which the “kingdom of heaven . . ”1 Baldwin’s rhetorical treatment of Christianity is twofold: it is allegorical and it is a form of Signifyin(g).
Black religion is used to respond to this inheritance. Therefore, a part mind you, not the totality, of the Black religious tradition is concerned with what it means to be religious when safety is theologically and sociologically in question, and when to attempt self-actualization is met with certain danger. This ontological concept of safety at play in Baldwin’s work means that it is prudent to identify Baldwin’s particular religious understanding of religion as something loaded with complicated and accumulated meaning—the living proof of inheritance—a birthright that only tradition itself could convey.
A Queering of Black Theology: James Baldwin’s Blues Project and Gospel Prose by E. Kornegay