September 11, 2013: In James Baldwin’s words

This passage is from The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin; first published in 1962.

Time catches up with kingdoms and crushes them, gets its teeth into doctrines and rends them; time reveals the foundations on which any kingdom rests, and eats at those foundations, and it destroys doctrines by proving them to be untrue. In those days, not so very long ago, when the priests of that church which stands in Rome gave God’s blessing to Italian boys being sent out to ravage a defenseless black country—which until that event, incidentally, had not considered itself to be black—it was not possible to believe in a black God. To entertain such a belief would have been to entertain madness. But time has passed, and in that time the Christian world has revealed itself as morally bankrupt and politically unstable. The Tunisians were quite right in 1956—and it was a very significant moment in Western (and African) history—when they countered the French justification for remaining in North Africa with the question “Are the French ready for self-government?” Again, the terms “civilized” and “Christian” begin to have a very strange ring, particularly in the ears of those who have been judged to be neither civilized nor Christian, when a Christian nation surrenders to a foul and violent orgy, as Germany did during the Third Reich. For the crime of their ancestry, millions of people in the middle of the twentieth century, and in the heart of Europe—God’s citadel—were sent to a death so calculated, so hideous, and so prolonged that no age before this enlightened one had been able to imagine it, much less achieve and record it. Furthermore, those beneath the Western heel, unlike those within the West, are aware that Germany’s current role in Europe is to act as a bulwark against the “uncivilized” hordes, and since power is what the powerless want, they understand very well what we of the West want to keep, and are not deluded by our talk of a freedom that we have never been willing to share with them….


About Daniel Drennan ElAwar

Adoptee, rematriated.
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2 Responses to September 11, 2013: In James Baldwin’s words

  1. Time catches up with kingdoms and crushes them says James Baldwin, he also quotes that the Christian world is morally bankrupt, and politically unstable. Coming from the premise ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God’ we read in the book Daniel in the Old Testament in chapter 4. verse 17. This matter is by decree, to the intent that THE LIVING MAY KNOW, that the MOST HIGH RULETH in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the BASEST of men. Nebuchanezzar, at the end of his days, blessed the Most High, and praised and honoured him that lives forever,whose dominion is an everlasting dominion,and his kingdom is from generation to generation, for the duration of this earth. Yes those that walk in pride, he is able to abase. We see that accross the christian world, morally bankrupt is apt, throwing the Ten Commandments to the four winds brought this demise, the downward spiral has continued to this very day, and indeed there are men in government truly UNFIT for purpose throughout the Christian world. So James is not far of the mark, rampant corruption, dishonesty, deceit, we have seen it here in the U.K. with the lies, and deceit, and corruption, stealing from the tax-payer with false claims submitted for mortgages etc. the moral standing of those in high office, no longer exists, they keep office even when found guilty of immoral conduct, as for the christian church, half of those that don the pulpit are evolutionist, and refuse to believe the word of God is inspired, they also refute most doctrine, and have replaced it by man-centred theories, can you wonder why there has been such a falling away in the Christian world as we know it, in its place has come, humanism, and paganism. Yet today folks laugh at the thought of the wrath of God, just as they did in Noah’s day.

    • Thanks for the comment Marion as always. It’s interesting to read this excerpt knowing that Baldwin’s stepfather was a preacher, and Baldwin himself at the age of 14 was a Pentecostal preacher in Harlem. The historical context of this writing is his contact with Malcolm X and the Black Muslims. I appreciate his ability to step up and out of his “learning” to be critical, and to point a finger at hypocrisy, and those who take a moral high ground when they don’t practice what they preach. I would point to economic and political reasons for the removal of “Spirit” or spirituality from daily life. I think it can return; but from the ground up.

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