I read an interesting essay from the African American for Humanism Examiner newsletter. The essay entitled, Wives Married to God: Religious Fanatics in James Baldwin’s Fiction by Barbara Sanchious Bayne. Bayne lists how in many of Baldwin’s stories such as The Amen Corner and The Fire Next Time the stories frequently involve wives who leave their husbands or at least put them in second place for Jesus after they become deeply involved in church activities and their spiritual life.

For that reason male characters in these stories find it difficult to attend church because of the “controlling influence” of the man up above (another master) and believing that they have to feminize themselves to be able to attend church. Interestingly, Bayne says that when Baldwin’s male characters defy God or rebel against the church, they are rebelling
against the image of suppression of their masculinity. Speaking of the female characters Bayne says that the women are sexually repressed but are able to have orgasms when they are shouting and filled with the Holy Ghost.

With the dominance of the Black church by women how do you think Bayne’s analysis of Baldwin’s work fits into today society?

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