Tag Archives: jeremiad

“Know whence you came.”

Take no one’s word for anything, including mine—but trust your experience. Know whence you came. If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go. The details and symbols of your life have been deliberately constructed to make you believe what white people say about you. Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear. Please try to be clear, dear James, through the storm which rages about your youthful head today, about the reality which lies behind the words acceptance and integration. There is no reason for you to try to become like white people and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you. The really terrible thing, old buddy, is that you must accept them. And I mean that very seriously. You must accept hem and accept them with love. For these innocent people have no other hope. They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it.

—James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963), Modern Library [1995], pp. 7-8

“I’m not joking. This isn’t metaphor or hyperbole.”

So these are the last of tens of thousands of words I’ve written in the run-up to this wretched election. I have lost my illusions about my political allies. Everyone seems to recognize the world tipping into craziness, and they respond by holding on tighter to their own version of craziness. Maybe this is mine. Roll your eyes if you like. I no longer fear Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or their fans. This election has taught me to fear God.

–Michael Brendan Dougherty, This election is God’s judgment on us

The world cannot be disenchanted

The rise of the practice of telling stories to illustrate theological claims does come with a greater awareness of our role in making meaning. It arises with a loss of confidence in the givenness of the meanings we experience. But to take the loss of the experience of givenness as a sign that there is no givenness is to engage in exactly the idealism that this perspective criticizes in mythological thinking. Such a conflation confuses our experience of the world with the world itself. O’Connor’s near contemporary Saul Bellow named this dynamic precisely. “The educated speak of the disenchanted (a boring) world,” he wrote. “But it is not the world, it is my own head that is disenchanted. The world cannot be disenchanted.”

—Ted A. Smith, “From Silkworms to Songbirds: Why We No Longer Preach Like Jonathan Edwards