There will come a point in a young person s life when he will have to come face to face with the reality that his faith and his fascination with the world are clashing against each other and vying for the soul he so cherishes The faith, the church, the temple, the mosque, the synagogue, they deny the world and wash themselves of anything in it that might stain the purity of their holy robes The world, in turn, enchants and invalidates the faith till the faith is extinguished and the world is all that is left A youth is faced with the choice will he devote his life to faith and turn his back on the world or will his world expand and his faith erode Go tell it on the Mountain encapsulates the journey that every young person born in the faith will have to take and the road he will tread whether that may be leading to spiritual maturity or secular awakening It tells the story of a black Christian family set in the tumultuous community of Harlem in the 30s John and Roy are young boys filled with hatred for their father, a reverend, and his moralistic and authoritarian way of raising them Reverend Gabriel prohibits his children from playing with other sinful kids, watching movies, listening to music, because everything of the world is evil and will lead them to hellfire He abuses them physically, verbally, all in the noble pursuit of their salvation But instead of teaching them to love his God, he fills them with hatred for his church, and his teachings The novel chronicles their struggle with acceptance of the faith and acceptance of each other as a family Gabriel is a representation of the Pharisee like brand of Christianity that is about righteousness and judgment An outdated, ineffective, hypocritical way of living that is about accountability and feigned sinlessness It is a practice that only pushes young people, like John and Roy, away from the church Today Christianity is rapidly losing its young people, especially in Western societies A study in 2007 pioneered by several concerned Protestant sects determined that about 70% of the Christian church s young people in America will leave their faith by the time they reach university or after they graduate high school A big part of this, of course, can be attributed to maturity and increased intelligence, but an often ignored yet significant aspect of the youth s disillusionment towards the Christian church is caused by this Gabriel like attitude that elder Christians display towards the younger generation They who only see faults instead of merits, who only rebuke instead of encourage It is no wonder that the Christian youth is a disappearing species with most of its church a sanctum of criticism and restrictions instead of a haven of acceptance and supportIt was his identity, and part, therefore, of that wickedness for which his father beat him and to which he clung in order to withstand his father His father s arm, rising and falling, might make him cry, and that voice might cause him to tremble yet his father could never be entirely the victor, for John cherished something that his father could not reach It was his hatred and his intelligence that he cherished, the one feeding the other He lived for the days when his father would be dying and he, John, would curse him on his deathbed And this was why, though he had been born in the faith and had been surrounded all his life by the saints and by their prayers and their rejoicing, and though the tabernacle in which they worshipped was completely real to him than the several precarious homes in which he and his family had lived, John s heart was hardened against the Lord His father was God s minister, the ambassador of the King of Heaven, and John could not bow before the throne of grace without first kneeling to his father On his refusal to do so this had his life depended, and John s secret heart had flourished in its wickedness until the day his sin first overtook him A decent Christian is one who acknowledges both the light and darkness inside him He knows that he is sinful she knows that she is suffering He wants to endure when he has no strength, she wants to resist and tries to but she knows she cannot Humility is the doorway to faith, while pride is the mask of the pitchfork Christians who only ever humiliate their associations with their God Baldwin contrasts the different attitudes of the father and son and like a possessed minister delivers a scathing and moving sermon to his congregation Written in a deep evangelistic voice that preaches fire and brimstone, oddly reminiscent of the poetic Old English language of the original King James Bible, this is not just a spiritual coming of age story Layered in between is a sociocultural deconstruction of the black individual in a time when she is still searching for her identity and the reflection he saw of himself through the mirror of the Christian religion is the image he dreamed to become It is not only a thoroughly enriching study but at its best a moving and utterly relatable parableNo matter what happens to me, where I go, what folks say about me, no matter what anybody says, you remember please remember I was saved I was there Go tell it on the Mountain is not about the end goal, the choice, or the conversion It s about the struggle that we all face, our attitude, our relationships with people, with our families, and having a deeper understanding of our chosen belief system instead of striving for some unreachable state of perpetual holiness to maintain, for the peripheral than the personal Of course people want to be virtuous, to be righteous, but they know that there will come a time when their shortcomings will catch up to them, that they will sin We will commit sins against the law, against our religion if we have one, against our principles But our redemption lies in knowing that at some point, at the beginning of our roads, we endeavored to take the proper path, and make the right decisions, that we decided to walk up the mountain and scream with our own voice regardless of what becomes of us, defiant, courageous, and hopeful lest we forget. It s John s 14th birthday.his family would forget without his mentioning it It s a Sunday Every Sunday the Grimes family walks to church where his father is deacon It s not the biggest or largest church, but John was brought up to believe it was the holiest and best Everyone had always said John would be a preacher when he grew up, just like his father the abusive preacher stepfather we soon learn.It s New York during the depression for this African American family We see how religion plays a positive and negative role in the lives of everyone in John s family This semi autobiographical novel is so powerful that it s after reading it twice plus recently having finished Givianni s Room I can see clearly where James Baldwin s life principles came from his ideology.to indoctrinate as a civil rights activist rejecting labels of race and gender and then to become a brilliant writer to boot.I just want to salute this man A coming of age tale about race, religion, and endurance, Go Tell It on the Mountain sketches a nuanced portrait of a single Black family struggling to survive in Harlem John is the fourteen year old queer stepson of a self righteous minister Friendless and strange looking, the boy wants nothing than to escape his neighborhood and attain prestige adding to his troubles is the fact that his family s forgotten his birthday, distracted by their daily toil The first and last part of the novel follow John as he battles his growing awareness of his sexuality, as well as his resentment toward his life in New York The second part takes place in a church, where John undergoes a fit of piety, and it explores the inner lives of the three adults closest to John his stepfather, aunt, and mother In labyrinthine prose, Baldwin gives voice to the longings and regrets of each main character, vividly portraying how they became adults in a nation hostile to their existence Incredibly moving and worth revisiting regularly. Religion, Race, Gender, Sexuality That is a powerful, strong cocktail mix of a story for sure, sung as a mourning prayer or a long orgasmic sensation In the character of Gabriel, all that is abusive, hypocritical and evil in Christianity is united in one patriarchal god copy He ranges with the worst priests in Dostoevsky s dark universe of punishment and suffering, he resembles the preacher in Elmer Gantry s style who scares his family and congregation with his vivid descriptions of sin leading to eternal burning in hell for everyone except for himself, the worst sinner of all who allows himself to find a sign from a conveniently lenient god that says he is saved despite all, while all the rest are lost, and most of all the women who suffer for his sake Angry he made me, Gabriel Somewhat surprisingly so, as I thought I was beyond that kind of fury at the brutal injustice of men playing god s henchmen.And yet the novel is beautiful It is full of strong and honest people Like Florence, who won t bow to the power of unjust, violent men And there is Elizabeth, who is scared and alone but knows that she would choose her passionate love over the petty dominance of god any time And there is John, who looks for a supernatural father as a substitute for the real one that he can t reach Beyond my anger and rage, reading of everyday racism, violence, misogyny and abuse in the name of religion, I see clearly what makes Christianity such a powerful tool in the hands of those who know how to use it While despriving people of their natural pleasure in sexuality without guilt, the religious ecstacy offers an effective substitution While depriving people of equality and fairness and freedom of choice in this life, the religious hope for an ever so undefined afterlife offers the sweet thought of future vengeance for those who suffer now While depriving poor people of the power to claim their rights, religion offers an idea of a last judgment speaking for them after they have struggled through life without support or security.Christianity takes away pleasure and dignity and holds them as carrots in front of the believers who keep running after them in the hope of catching them, until they collapse in exhaustion after a long run on a narrow path of suffering in silence.I can t help hoping for something else, though, to set these characters free and to save them A thought experiment what would happen to Christianity if we took away the sin from any consensual sex between grown ups Gabriel wouldn t have had to fall back on preaching and beating his way through life to prove he is saved He wouldn t have been lost in the first place Provided he treated his fellow human beings with the respect they are entitled to, he might actually have felt good about himself every once in a while He might not have pushed a young pregnant woman to leave and die in pain He might have felt responsible for his first son He might have embraced John and made John s mother happy All kinds of things might have happened if he hadn t been driven simultaneously by a natural desire and a taught fear of sinning.But taking away sin from sex would make preachers less powerful Making sex a mutual agreement between two grown ups would make it less of a tool in the giant patriarchal powerhouse and it would put some pressure on men to be kind and caring to women So I can see why it is worthwhile to keep preaching Even if it makes the preacher fear and suffer occasionally as well.Go Tell It On The Mountain, That Humanity Is Born.This novel is like an earthquake Read it and feel shaken He gives me music in words, and I fall for each note When Baldwin juxtaposes hope and despair, he makes me fall in step with his professionally performed melancholic waltz Genius he is, with words and emotions and sound and sensibility With this pocket sized book, I read as I walked around a lecture room administering exams, as I waited in my office between appointments, and while I paced a Center, collecting a state mandatory writing proficiency test Bind me with Baldwin and watch me smile through tears as I reach for the serenity hidden beneath the hectic He encapsulated physical and psychological struggle in Giovanni s Room, and this is what he also does well in this novel Go tell it on the mountainif you re familiar with the old spiritual, you know how this phrase ends it is faith in a capsule, this phrase The mountain as symbolism is sprinkled throughout the novel, signifying the downtrodden s struggle to reach the mountaintop, and the hope that he or she will someday reach it consider the title of Dr King s famous Mountaintop speech The mountain is the high of life, the physical, mental, and spiritual goal yet how does one reach the mountain when there are so many valleys of economic, racial, mental, and social despairs to crossThey were the despised and rejected, the wretched and the spat upon, the earth s offscouring and he was in their company, and they would swallow up his soul The stripes they had endured will scar his back, their punishment would be his, their portion his, his their humiliation, anguish, chains, their dungeon his, their death his Using the church as a painter s brush, Baldwin paints a picture of the collectiveness of suffering and injustice and highlights why the appeal to stop injustice is usually a collective one Through songs, he traces the Underground Railroad s movement through the black church, ending in Harlem, on Lenox Avenue, the home of The Temple of the Fire Baptized, ending, in some instances, in your church and mine, where hypocrisy judge not that ye be not judged and an insane strive to imperfection sometimes abounds where race issues are usually lines drawn across pews and denominations And if you re familiar with the Bible, you ll sense that the last part of this novel when John will have his revelation resembles the prophetic visions of The Book of Revelations I listened and groaned with each character, although John Grimes and Elizabeth stole my heart and I had disdain for Gabriel A few perspectives are covered here and I enjoyed visiting the diverse inner psyches of these characters John, the bastard son, struggled to gain the love of an unworthy father Elizabeth, the wife and mother who thought that marriage would be her penance for running off with the love of her life who never married her Florence, the sister of the hypocritical preacher who fought to win her mother s love which was always reserved for her brother and Gabriel, the drunk turned preacher who clouds the life of all he comes into contact with, because of his insane notions of sainthood Initially, the problem John had was less with his faith and with the conformed and uninformed thinking of the people of his faithThe darkness of his sin was in the hardheartedness with which he resisted God s power in the scorn that was often his while he listened to the crying, breaking voices, and watched the black skin glisten while they lifted up their arms and fell on their faces before the Lord For he had made his decision He would not be like his father, or his father s fathers He would have another life Baldwin makes you consider perspective, that simulacrum of life, because if life is really about design, then our individually created spaces are really what we call life, making the concepts of love, faith, hope, and education simply tools for each existing space This means that at some point, we will all consider life, our portraits, as the characters do in this book, and when we do, we will most likely wonder whether we ve made the most use of our faith, education, love, and One can only wonder what we ll uncoverBut to look back from the stony plain along the road which led one to that place is not at all the same thing as walking on the road the perspective, to say the very least, changes only with the journey only when the road has, all abruptly and treacherously, and with an absoluteness that permits no argument, turned or dropped or risen is one able to see all that one could not have seen from any other place Jail or Church At age 14 I had a similar epiphany to that of James Baldwin I too realised that my parents were only human beings, and that their fallibility left me vulnerable to the world If I were to survive, it would have to be on terms that were yet to be determined I recall it as a trauma And I was neither gay nor black But I was brought up as well in New York City to know that the world was sinful and dangerous Andjails and churchesdid bound the same spectrum of choice in my adolescent mind.John Grimes is a Harlem Prometheus, pushing his life uphill, and endlessly having it roll back to the same point of virtual exterminationI can always climb back up,he thinks Because he is young But the unforgiving, violent gnosticism of his father is something difficult to overcome than even the unforgiving racism and homophobia of his city The city might give the occasional break to a talented, intelligent, ambitious black boy But the ingrained suspicion and fear of divine judgement created by his father Never Hell seemed closer than one s own family and it had far patience.The only way to avoid Hell was to get laid low by the Lord, to give up entirely one s ambition, one s desires, one s personality in order to become savedYou in the Word or you ain t ain t no halfway with GodFor John s father salvation comes only through pain, his first and then that of others, as much as he might impose in retribution against the violent racism, grinding humiliation and frustration he has experienced all his life His hatred is sublimated into a desolate, suppressed existence He can neither love nor relent in his self persecution A sort of racial bulimia if the only revenge available is on oneself, that s at least something When the family lived in the South, there was at least hope of escape from the legacy of their slave parents The North represented real freedom But when they got there, things weren t any different, except that hope had disappeared There was nowhere to escape toThe whole earth becomes a prison for the man who fled before the LordThis was life as it was going to be forever The men feel the despair most acutely, the women most deeply, the children most thoroughly What alternative is there to a kind of religion that preaches We don t belong here our home is elsewhere degradation and dereliction is the only thing we can expect In such a conditions, to lead is to preach, to evoke that other place of belonging, to create the community that anticipates, longs for and deserves that other place But preaching doesn t erase memory in either the congregation or the preacher One s personal sins are compounded by the the inherent evil, one has been taught, of one s blackness This can t be escaped even if it can be rationalized Preaching becomes a sort of politics, a politics among victims, the result of which is indeed election to a life of guilt as well as oppression This is the only politics allowed them Their religion has not yet awoke to its potential for anything further.John is indeed struck down, laid low, by the Lord He becomes powerless with fear But not to be savedsalvation was finished, damnation was realHis head is filled with the sound of rage Visions of death make him scream for help Until he sees the Lord and is taken up into Him and protected The rest his father, mother, extended family, fellow congregants didn t know it, but he did the Lord had freed him of them There were possibilities than jails or churches. More mystical readable than the other biggie of Harlem literature, Invisible Man , the tale told here is like a prism that breaks up into different lights, different lives filled to the brim with hardship The Grimes family is led by the patriarch who is a fanatic Members of the family struggle to find their own religion by their own means The father is the bad guy because he s so blinded by his devotion that nothing else even comes second.There are brief glimpses into the racial issues that have marked African Americans for ages, all prejudices still alive Baldwin knows how to TERRIFY by bombarding his prose with religious motifs this writer is serious, these characters are serious, so is religion. O er Tympany and TrumpetsPublished in 1953, James Baldwin s first major work was this scorching autobiographical novel of his salvific struggles as a teen in 1930s Harlem He said this is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else The novel centers on a 14 year old John and Gabriel, his evangelical step father, whose reserved demeanor as a storefront preacher belies his domineering and physically abusive ways John fights against this pietistic tyrant and his world, one in which a confused 14 year old cannot view anything without his eyes colored by the church and his religion and in which he commits sins by his very nature of being In prose that I can almost see flaming over tympany and trumpets, at times lyrical, at others Biblically poetic in painting John s internal struggles and Gabriel s inner demons, and even casting literary spells with verses from African American hymns and spiritual songs, such as the eponymous song, and epideictic language of the evangelical church.The novel moved me to recall myself as a 14 , 15 , 16 year old who went to what would now be called an evangelical church, and being haunted by the constant, rutilant fears, spurred by ministrations, of an eternal damnation that to me seemed unavoidable by the very nature of growing into manhood my burning yearnings for girls, the Pavlovian prurience that persisted no matter my prayers, and my chronic corneous condition owing to my carnally cluttered consciousnesscouter de la musique belle et montagneuse d un maestro. His mind was like the sea itself troubled, and too deep for the bravest man s descent, throwing up now and again, for the naked eye to wonder at, treasure and debris long forgotten on the bottom bones and jewels, fantastic shells, jelly that had once been flesh, pearls that had once been eyes And he was at the mercy of this sea, hanging there with darkness all around him As an aside, perhaps I ve been redeemed. There are people in the world for whom coming along is a perpetual process, people who are destined never to arriveJames Baldwin, Go Tell It on the MountainThis was a slow read In terms of pages and words it was a small book, but the river was deep and fierce Baldwin is throwing out big themes on family, religion, race, sex This isn t a beach read It is a hard pew read in an unconditioned, hellfire and damnation church I would read 40 pages and have to take a day to recover emotionally THIS book is why I read fiction Look I am white on white, again and again Seriously, I took the 23andme.com DNA spit test and I am pretty deep into the white gene hole How else, besides brilliant narrative fiction, am I going to understand anything about being black or being a black pentecostal WITHOUT reading Baldwin Baldwin s use of repetition was amazing I haven t read recently other than Moby Dick a novel that appears to be made, brick by brick, with King James Bible pieces than Go Tell It on the Mountain There are some novels where writer ties off every narrative thread Baldwin wasn t satisfied with that Each sad string in this novel seemed to end up threaded through some part of my heart and knotted around some raw edge of my soul. Go Tell It On The Mountain, First Published In , Is Baldwin S First Major Work, A Semi Autobiographical Novel That Has Established Itself As An American Classic With Lyrical Precision, Psychological Directness, Resonating Symbolic Power, And A Rage That Is At Once Unrelenting And Compassionate, Baldwin Chronicles A Fourteen Year Old Boy S Discovery Of The Terms Of His Identity As The Stepson Of The Minister Of A Storefront Pentecostal Church In Harlem One Saturday In March Of Baldwin S Rendering Of His Protagonist S Spiritual, Sexual, And Moral Struggle Of Self Invention Opened New Possibilities In The American Language And In The Way Americans Understand Themselves
See this thread for information.James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.James Baldwin offered a vital literary voice during the era of civil rights activism in the 1950s and 60s He was the eldest of nine children his stepfather was a minister At age 14, Baldwin became a preacher at the small Fireside Pentecostal Church in Harlem In the early 1940s, he transferred his faith from religion to literature Critics, however, note the impassioned cadences of Black churches are still evident in his writing.
- 256 pages
- Go Tell It on the Mountain
- James Baldwin
- 14 November 2017 James Baldwin