By E. Kornegay
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Extra resources for A Queering of Black Theology: James Baldwin's Blues Project and Gospel Prose
As such, religious allegory is for Baldwin a “second consciousness” or “extended metaphor” that privileges sexuality, used as a defense against the puritanical ideals embedded within Holiness Pentecostalism, which he employs to tell the story of his black life. This is James Baldwin’s allegorical defense. What is his defense concerned with? 89 This interrelatedness is based on a strict interpretation of the biblical text in relation to human restraint on the one hand and forced captivity on the other.
The twoness of blackness becomes the void where the “foundations of society are hidden” and the safety many black people seek forever destabilized by the metaphorical uncertainty caused by likeness to an image they can never obtain. Metaphorically, their backs are placed perpetually against the wall: only allegory can set us free. Allegory becomes a hermeneutical defense against being torn asunder by puritanically induced twoness: something that is able to assuage suspicion with a more sustainable interpretive endeavor.
32 Baldwin says the accumulated rock of ages “deciphered itself as a part of my inheritance—a part mind you, not the totality . ”34 Baldwin says his inheritance, while “specifically limited and limiting,” was connected to his birthright that was “vast, connecting me to all that lives and to everyone forever. 36 According to Baldwin birthright is the “living proof” of inheritance. Birthright carries within it the accumulated 20 A Queering of Black Theology rock(s) of tradition. Tradition—black tradition—in particular is a means of accountability to the historical representations of what it means to be black (the accumulated rock of ages), both individually and collectively.
A Queering of Black Theology: James Baldwin's Blues Project and Gospel Prose by E. Kornegay