What is the signifigance of Christianity in The Fire Next Time?
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You might want to consider this question in relation to one of the essays that make up this fascinating collection, called "Down at the Cross," which is also the longest essay in the book. In this essay, Baldwin begins by talking about the importance of religion in his life and how he became aware of God as a force to be acknowledged and bowed down before:
I underwent, during the summer that I became fourteen, a prolonged religious crisis. I use the word “religious” in the common, and arbitrary, sense, meaning that I then discovered God, His saints and angels, and His blazing Hell. And since I had been born in a Christian nation, I accepted this Deity as the only one.
The importance of Christianity is shown in the discussion that follows this religious epiphany, as Baldwin argues that his religious view of the world was restrictive in so many ways given the backdrop of segregation and racism in which Baldwin was writing. Baldwin thus concludes that conventional white Christianity does not give space for the flowering of a Christianity that celebrates and recognises blacks as being just as important as their white brethren. Baldwin thus points out the way that religious belief aided and abetted the suppression of blacks in America.
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