By E. Kornegay
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Additional resources for A Queering of Black Theology: James Baldwin's Blues Project and Gospel Prose
Gadamer suggests that collective The Prolonged Religious Crisis 21 knowledge forms a kind of horizon of meaning. For Baldwin, the horizon represents the collected knowledge—accumulated rock of ages—of the dual history of blackness that is both situated and limited by puritanism. I contend that this is the portion of the black religious inheritance, which Baldwin is dealing with. It is the source of Baldwin’s fears and a reflection of his literal search for safety. 39 As such, through Baldwin’s work, the horizontal limit of the black religious tradition is altered hermeneutically; this means the primary source for interpreting what is religious about black religion shifts from a relationship centered on God’s saving grace to one that is centered on the question of whether or not God and black religion can offer safety for black bodies.
This same strictness when applied to black people reveals a different form of captivity—one that does not extend to God, but to Ham, making the connection to Ham’s captivity perpetual and therefore 34 A Queering of Black Theology metaphorical. This interrelatedness is based on a strict interpretation of the biblical text in relation to human captivity. Puritanism and Holiness Pentecostalism converge around materially different outcomes based on an interpretation of captivity. It is material because it determines the social location of white bodies and black bodies in relation to God.
The black church is a site of internalized oppression buried beneath black Christian church claims and symbols of respectability. 36 This means that the black church and its use of the Christian Gospel are symbols of redemption from the contagion of black sexuality and proclaiming proper sexual conduct. Salvation, at least in this context, is from sin, sin imposed by puritanism. The black church is also a reminder of the violated inheritance of black people and more importantly the inheritance of the violated message of the Christian gospel.
A Queering of Black Theology: James Baldwin's Blues Project and Gospel Prose by E. Kornegay