An excerpt: "It is a matter of astonishment, that there should be any objection at all; for the duty of giving religious instruction to our Negroes, and the benefits flowing from it, should be obvious to all. The benefits, we
conceive to be incalculably great, and [one] of them [is] there will be
greater subordination . . .amongst the Negroes. page 52"

Mark Twain: In my schoolboy days I had no aversion to slavery. I was not aware that there was anything wrong about it. No one arraigned it in my hearing; the local papers said nothing against it; the local pulpit taught us that God approved it, that it was a holy thing, and that the doubter need only look in the Bible if he wished to settle his mind — and then the texts were read aloud to us to make the matter sure; if the slaves themselves had an aversion to slavery they were wise and said nothing.

James Baldwin:

I remember the photographs of white women in New Orleans, several years ago, during the school integration crisis, who were standing with their babies in their arms, and in the name of Jesus Christ they were spitting on other women’s children, women who happened to be black, women with their babies in their arms. I have never been able to understand that at all. To put it in rather exaggerated primitive terms, I don’t understand at all what the white man’s religion means to him. I know that the white man’s religion has done to me. And so, I could — can — accuse the white Christian world of being nothing but a tissue of lies, nothing but an excuse for power, as being as removed as anything can possibly be from any sense of worship and, still more, from any sense of love. I cannot understand that religion. And I really mean that. I am not joking when I say I cannot understand it. I mean, I can have a fight with a bartender or I can have a fight with you, I think, but I can’t have a fight with a baby, with a child.

“Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death—ought to decide, indeed, to earn one's death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return. One must negotiate this passage as nobly as possible, for the sake of those who are coming after us.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

“I was just as black as I had been the day that I was born. Therefore, when I faced a congregation, it began to take all the strength I had not to stammer, not to curse, not to tell them to throw away their Bibles and get off their knees and go home and organize, for example, a rent strike. When I watched all the children, their copper, brown, and beige faces staring up at me as I taught Sunday school, I felt that I was committing a crime in talking about the gentle Jesus, in telling them to reconcile themselves to their misery on earth in order to gain the crown of eternal life. Were only Negroes to gain this crown? Was Heaven, then, to be merely another ghetto?”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

“In the realm of power, Christianity has operated with an unmitigated arrogance and cruelty—necessarily, since a religion ordinarily imposes on those who have discovered the true faith the spiritual duty of liberating the infidels. This particular true faith, moreover, is more deeply concerned about the soul than it is about the body, to which fact the flesh (and the corpses) of countless infidels bears witness.” ― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

“The energy that was buried with the rise of the Christian nations must come back into the world; nothing can prevent it. Many of us, I think, both long to see this happen and are terrified of it, for though this transformation contains the hope of liberation, it also imposes a necessity for great change. But in order to deal with the untapped and dormant force of the previously subjugated, in order to survive as a human, moving, moral weight in the world, America and all the Western nations will be forced to reexamine themselves and release themselves from many thing that are now taken to be sacred, and to discard nearly all the assumptions that have been used to justify their lives and their anguish and their crimes so long.” ― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

“It is not too much to say that whoever wishes to become a truly moral human being (and let us not ask whether or not this is possible; I think we must believe that it is possible) must first divorce himself from all the prohibitions, crimes, and hypocrisies of the Christian church. If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

“I was also able to see that the principles governing the rites and customs of the churches in which I grew up did not differ from the principles governing the rites and customs of other churches, white. The principles were Blindness, Loneliness, and Terror, the first principle necessarily and actively cultivated in order to deny the two others. I would love to believe that the principles were Faith, Hope, and Charity, but this is clearly not so for most Christians, or for what we call the Christian world.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

“From my own point of view, the fact of the Third Reich alone makes obsolete forever any question of Christian superiority, except in technological terms. White people were, and are, astounded by the holocaust in Germany. They did not know that they could act that way. But I very much doubt whether black people were astounded—at least, in the same way.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

“The spreading of the Gospel, regardless of the motives or the integrity or the heroism of some of the missionaries, was an absolutely indispensable justification for the planting of the flag. Priests and nuns and school-teachers helped to protect and sanctify the power that was so ruthlessly being used by people who were indeed seeking a city, but not one in the heavens, and one to be made, very definitely, by captive hands. The Christian church itself—again, as distinguished from some of its ministers—sanctified and rejoiced in the conquests of the flag, and encouraged, if it did not formulate, the belief that conquest, with the resulting relative well-being of the Western populations, was proof of the favor of God.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

“To accept one’s past—one’s history—is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought. How can the American Negro’s past be used? The unprecedented price demanded—and at this embattled hour of the world’s history—is the transcendence of the realities of color, of nations, and of altars.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
“When I watched all the children, their copper, brown, and beige faces staring up at me as I taught Sunday school, I felt that I was committing a crime in talking about the gentle Jesus, in telling them to reconcile themselves to their misery on earth in order to gain the crown of eternal life. Were only Negroes to gain this crown? Was Heaven, then, to be merely another ghetto? Perhaps I might have been able to reconcile myself even to this if I had been able to believe that there was any loving-kindness to be found in the haven I represented. But I had been in the pulpit too long and I had seen too many monstrous things. I don’t refer merely to the glaring fact that the minister eventually acquires houses and Cadillacs while the faithful continue to scrub floors and drop their dimes and quarters and dollars into the plate. I really mean that there was no love in the church. It was a mask for hatred and self-hatred and despair. The transfiguring power of the Holy Ghost ended when the service ended, and salvation stopped at the church door.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Religion is useful for helping people reconcile with their circumstances. While it may not remove one's real misery, it can make it easier for people to accept them. No one really knows what is true or what is not so it is disingenuous for any of us to claim that we do. This exit in every religion and amongst preachers of every religion. It is easier to come to terms with Baldwin's arguments than it is to believe that there really is a God.

But religion aside, people has to find ways to improve their own circumstances. It has happened before so it is not impossible. People sometimes find it way too easy to blame others for their struggles and sometimes when those situations are carefully evaluated, it becomes clear that there are more than one element affecting that struggle including us failing to do our part to improve our conditions. While Baldwin is correct in observing that the preachers get richer while the conditions of the congregation doesn't improve, it is also true that no one is holding a gun to the congregation's head forcing them to give their pittances to the already wealthy preachers.

The point is also taken that it appears that God does not like poor people.

ksazma posted:

But religion aside, people has to find ways to improve their own circumstances. It has happened before so it is not impossible. People sometimes find it way too easy to blame others for their struggles and sometimes when those situations are carefully evaluated, it becomes clear that there are more than one element affecting that struggle including us failing to do our part to improve our conditions. While Baldwin is correct in observing that the preachers get richer while the conditions of the congregation doesn't improve, it is also true that no one is holding a gun to the congregation's head forcing them to give their pittances to the already wealthy preachers.

The point is also taken that it appears that God does not like poor people.

The argument that individuals are responsible for uplifting themselves is overly simplistic when you factor in the systematic, endemic prejudice against specific segments of society of which there is ample evidence. Poverty is not by choice. Living in squalor is not a choice. Poor education is not a choice.

“It is a fact that every American Negro bears a name that originally belonged to the white man whose chattel he was. I am called Baldwin because I was either sold by my African tribe or kidnapped out of it into the hands of a white Christian named Baldwin, who forced me to kneel at the foot of the cross. I am, then, both visibly and legally the descendant of slaves in a white, Protestant country, and this is what it means to be an American Negro, this is who he is—a kidnapped pagan, who was sold like an animal and treated like one, who was once defined by the American Constitution as “three-fifths” of a man, and who, according to the Dred Scott decision, had no rights that a white man was bound to respect. And today, a hundred years after his technical emancipation, he remains—with the possible exception of the American Indian—the most despised creature in his country.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
antabanta posted:
ksazma posted:

But religion aside, people has to find ways to improve their own circumstances. It has happened before so it is not impossible. People sometimes find it way too easy to blame others for their struggles and sometimes when those situations are carefully evaluated, it becomes clear that there are more than one element affecting that struggle including us failing to do our part to improve our conditions. While Baldwin is correct in observing that the preachers get richer while the conditions of the congregation doesn't improve, it is also true that no one is holding a gun to the congregation's head forcing them to give their pittances to the already wealthy preachers.

The point is also taken that it appears that God does not like poor people.

The argument that individuals are responsible for uplifting themselves is overly simplistic when you factor in the systematic, endemic prejudice against specific segments of society of which there is ample evidence. Poverty is not by choice. Living in squalor is not a choice. Poor education is not a choice.

I agree that it may be overly simplistic. I don't think that it is impossible though. I was also looking at it beyond any particular race and more of an attitude. There are a lot of white people in America who are also poor so it is not all about the system. Our son is sporting a 5.2 GPA at the same school where he knows another kid struggling with a 0.67 one. They are both exposed to the same teachers and curriculum (not really since our son takes AP classes but you know what I mean) but maybe not the same experiences elsewhere so I would also agree with you if you think that I am being overly simplistic here.

antabanta posted:
“It is a fact that every American Negro bears a name that originally belonged to the white man whose chattel he was. I am called Baldwin because I was either sold by my African tribe or kidnapped out of it into the hands of a white Christian named Baldwin, who forced me to kneel at the foot of the cross. I am, then, both visibly and legally the descendant of slaves in a white, Protestant country, and this is what it means to be an American Negro, this is who he is—a kidnapped pagan, who was sold like an animal and treated like one, who was once defined by the American Constitution as “three-fifths” of a man, and who, according to the Dred Scott decision, had no rights that a white man was bound to respect. And today, a hundred years after his technical emancipation, he remains—with the possible exception of the American Indian—the most despised creature in his country.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

I don't think that an "American Negro" is more despised that a Muslim in America but although I have made apologies in the past for Muslims' actions, I have come to a point where I am not comfortable doing so. I feel we all need to take responsibility for our actions and where we hope they will take us. We are too comfortable making excuses and although I understand that there are existing underlying factors, I prefer to err on the notion that I have to do what is necessary to change my condition.

ksazma posted:

I agree that it may be overly simplistic. I don't think that it is impossible though. I was also looking at it beyond any particular race and more of an attitude. There are a lot of white people in America who are also poor so it is not all about the system. Our son is sporting a 5.2 GPA at the same school where he knows another kid struggling with a 0.67 one. They are both exposed to the same teachers and curriculum (not really since our son takes AP classes but you know what I mean) but maybe not the same experiences elsewhere so I would also agree with you if you think that I am being overly simplistic here.

Most of us immigrants, especially Guyanese, and our offspring do well. We were not subjected to centuries of malicious prejudice beating any self-worth out of us. If a few years of childhood abuse can irreversibly damage a child emotionally and spiritually, imagine what happens to people who are subjected to centuries of physical, verbal, emotional, and spiritual abuse of the worst kind limited only to the imagination of the abuser.

However, indeed people can rise above it and people are rising above it albeit slowly. What is even more astonishing to me is the casual manner in which black people are expected to dismiss the atrocities and abuses and suddenly regain their self-esteem and be successful, successful, mind you, as defined by their captors and oppressors.

The world has changed a lot since those days but I agree that not everyone’s attitude has. Of late, some of the ugliness of those days have been fostering especially amongst Trump’s strongest supporters. Maybe it is my naïveté when hoping that we can all rise above those elements. LeBron was born with every societal excuse to fail but yet he has been sought after since he was 14.Today, 15 years after entering the NBA, he is scoring at the fastest clip of any Laker whose history accounts for some of the greatest NBA players in history.

seignet posted:

The whiteman made sports into a lucrative business, for anyone in Trumps America. Business savvy makes money and life's improvements.

And the desires of some whites to comabt prejudices. Dem is great people overall, rednecks too.

Whose business savvy? You are aware that Trump has more failed business ventures than successful ones.. right?

“I was also able to see that the principles governing the rites and customs of the churches in which I grew up did not differ from the principles governing the rites and customs of other churches, white. The principles were Blindness, Loneliness, and Terror, the first principle necessarily and actively cultivated in order to deny the two others. I would love to believe that the principles were Faith, Hope, and Charity, but this is clearly not so for most Christians, or for what we call the Christian world.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

antabanta posted:
seignet posted:

The whiteman made sports into a lucrative business, for anyone in Trumps America. Business savvy makes money and life's improvements.

And the desires of some whites to comabt prejudices. Dem is great people overall, rednecks too.

Whose business savvy? You are aware that Trump has more failed business ventures than successful ones.. right?

Try and try again until there is success, maybe that is Trump's thinking.

antabanta posted:

“I was also able to see that the principles governing the rites and customs of the churches in which I grew up did not differ from the principles governing the rites and customs of other churches, white. The principles were Blindness, Loneliness, and Terror, the first principle necessarily and actively cultivated in order to deny the two others. I would love to believe that the principles were Faith, Hope, and Charity, but this is clearly not so for most Christians, or for what we call the Christian world.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Delussional, Mr. Baldwin. Failure to grasp the nature of mankind. I have freedom with the belief that there is a God and his Elect One know as Jesus offers salvation into the after life.

I can guess your response, let's see if i am correct.

seignet posted:
antabanta posted:
seignet posted:

The whiteman made sports into a lucrative business, for anyone in Trumps America. Business savvy makes money and life's improvements.

And the desires of some whites to comabt prejudices. Dem is great people overall, rednecks too.

Whose business savvy? You are aware that Trump has more failed business ventures than successful ones.. right?

Try and try again until there is success, maybe that is Trump's thinking.

Perhaps but more business failures than successes is not the mark of business savvy.

seignet posted:
antabanta posted:

“I was also able to see that the principles governing the rites and customs of the churches in which I grew up did not differ from the principles governing the rites and customs of other churches, white. The principles were Blindness, Loneliness, and Terror, the first principle necessarily and actively cultivated in order to deny the two others. I would love to believe that the principles were Faith, Hope, and Charity, but this is clearly not so for most Christians, or for what we call the Christian world.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Delussional, Mr. Baldwin. Failure to grasp the nature of mankind. I have freedom with the belief that there is a God and his Elect One know as Jesus offers salvation into the after life.

I can guess your response, let's see if i am correct.

That's really cute. So now anything I say you're free to pounce on and proclaim "I knew it!" Fortunately, some of us are intelligent.

You completely miss the point. Only the blind, lonely, and terrified need the fake security of salvation and an after life. But how could a man who has seen more travesty and travail than you possibly ever could, know more about the nature of mankind than you know from your fantasy stories in the bible. For your information, James Baldwin was ordained a preacher at the age of 14. He also knew more about the bible than you ever could.

“It can be objected that I am speaking of political freedom in spiritual terms, but the political institutions of any nation are always menaced and are ultimately controlled by the spiritual state of that nation. We are controlled here by our confusion, far more than we know, and the American dream has therefore become something much more closely resembling a nightmare, on the private, domestic, and international levels. Privately, we cannot stand our lives and dare not examine them; domestically, we take no responsibility for (and no pride in) what goes on in our country; and, internationally, for many millions of people, we are an unmitigated disaster.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
“The American Negro is a unique creation; he has no counterpart anywhere, and no predecessors. The Muslims react to this fact by referring to the Negro as “the so-called American Negro” and substituting for the names inherited from slavery the letter “X.” It is a fact that every American Negro bears a name that originally belonged to the white man whose chattel he was. I am called Baldwin because I was either sold by my African tribe or kidnapped out of it into the hands of a white Christian named Baldwin, who forced me to kneel at the foot of the cross. I am, then, both visibly and legally the descendant of slaves in a white, Protestant country, and this is what it means to be an American Negro, this is who he is—a kidnapped pagan, who was sold like an animal and treated like one, who was once defined by the American Constitution as “three-fifths” of a man, and who, according to the Dred Scott decision, had no rights that a white man was bound to respect. And today, a hundred years after his technical emancipation, he remains—with the possible exception of the American Indian—the most despised creature in his country.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

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