The Enduring Rage of Baldwin and the Education of a
White Southern Baptist Queer
Delivered in Paris at the 2016 International James Baldwin Conference just two weeks
before the killing of 49 individuals at a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida on 26 June
2016, “Relatively Conscious” explores, through the eyes of an LGBT American and the words
of James Baldwin, how separate and unequal life remains for so many within the United
States. Written in the tradition of memoir, it recounts how, just as Paris saved Baldwin
from himself, the writer’s life was transformedupon the discovery of Baldwin.
James Baldwin, the Religious Right, and the Moral
In the 1980s, James Baldwin recognized that a major transformation had occurred in the
socio-political functions of religion. His critique adapted accordingly, focusing on the
ways in which religion—particularly white evangelical Christianity—had morphed into a
movement deeply enmeshed with mass media, conservativepolitics, and late capitalism.
Religion in the Reagan era was leveraged, sold, and consumed in ways never before seen,
from charismatic televangelists, to Christian-themed amusement parks, to mega-churches.
The new movement was often characterized as the “religious right” or the “Moral Majority”
and was central to both Reagan’s political coalition as well as the broader culture wars.
For Baldwin, this development had wide-ranging ramifications for society and the
individual. This article draws on Baldwin’s final major essay, “To Crush the Serpent”
(1987), to examine the author’s evolving thoughts on religion, salvation, and
transgression in the context of the Reagan era.
Go Tell It on the Mountain sheds light on James Baldwin’s response to his Pentecostal religious inheritance. Baldwin writes protagonist John Grimes’s experience of “salvation” as an act of his own break with his past and the inauguration of a new vocation as authorial witness of his times. This break is premised on the experience of kairos, a form of time that was derived from Baldwin’s experience of Pentecostalism. Through John Grimes’s experience, Baldwin represents a break with the past that begins with the kairotic moment and progresses through the beginnings of self-love and the possibility of freedom enabled by this love. This essay contributes a new perspective on discussions of Baldwin’s representation of time and his relationship to Christianity.
Christianity and together eke out a meagre living on the outskirts of a small town.
Memories and Dreams ( 1993 ). Left, Miisia's senior wife says she misses her co-wife, right, who has run off to town as she could no longer tolerate the beatings from her husband. As a childless woman, her future prospects in Maasai society were very bleak
criticisms of his work as being either the product of political correctness, or of an unwillingness on the part of humanities-oriented anthropologists to accept his quantitative scientific methods. Extra-academic critics, meanwhile, have claimed that the representation of the Yanomamɨ as ‘the fierce people’ has served as an alibi for those who wish to take their lands or convert them to Christianity. The various sides of the argument are presented in Secrets of the Tribe , a feature documentary directed by José Padilha ( 2010
The films of David and Judith MacDougall in Africa and
syncretic blend of local Aboriginal traditions, Presbyterian Christianity and Torres Strait Islander forms of music and dancing.
The new ceremony also fulfilled another important function related to Aboriginal belief. Under traditional circumstances, deaths were often attributed to witchcraft, and when a man died one of the prime suspects would be his widow. In the ceremony shown in
, in order to assure the husband's family that she has not been responsible for his death, the widow
circumstances. The chief executive of the company since its formation in 1955, Sir Denis Forman, was a man of broad cultural interests, including an interest in anthropology, which stemmed from his reading of The Golden Bough as an adolescent. For the son of a Scottish Presbyterian minister, the encounter with Sir James Frazer's presentation of Christianity as just one more set of religious beliefs, no more securely founded than any other, proved to be a life-changing experience, leading him to reject religion, much to his devout parents’ consternation