By E. Kornegay
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Extra resources for A Queering of Black Theology: James Baldwin's Blues Project and Gospel Prose
This is the metaphoric exemption of black religious interpretation. 74 Schneider’s notion of metaphoric exemption by which the divine always escapes human attempts to liken it could help to illuminate the ways in which puritanism, as a cultural force, escapes from view in discussions of black American Protestantism and black religion. 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.
38 In this sense, black religion is, in part, the inheritance of an intricate web of psychological forces that are linked historically to puritanism. 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.
The black church has been used to dispense puritanical 48 A Queering of Black Theology proscriptions against black bodies. Homophobia and sexism are two primary examples of depravity and puritanism found in the black church. Most if not all critiques of Baldwin’s work centers on the issue of his embrace of homosexuality and the black body. 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.
A Queering of Black Theology: James Baldwin's Blues Project and Gospel Prose by E. Kornegay