Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas with Du Bois, ca. 1909-10

O Thou Incarnate Word of God to man, make us this Christmas night to realize Thy truth; We are not Christians because we profess Thy name and celebrate the ceremonies and idly reiterate the prayers of the church, but only in so far as we really comprehend and follow the Christ spirit- we must be poor and not rich, meek and not proud, merciful and not oppressors, peaceful and not warlike or quarrelsome. For the sake of the righteousness of our cause we must bow to persecution and reviling, and again and again turn the stricken cheek to the striker; and above all the cause of our neighbor must be to us dearer than our own cause. This is Christianity. God help us all to be Christians. Amen.

Luke 2:8-14


--from W.E.B. Du Bois, Prayers for Dark People, ed. Herbert Aptheker (U. of Mass. Press, 1980), p. 63

[Photo credit here.]

Friday, December 21, 2007

"For unto us a child was born...in Harlem...in 1924...."

As this time of year is the season of birth(s) and beginnings, what some call Advent, or an all-out capitalist bonanza at the store of your choice, it is also a time to remember a death--the 20-year commemoration of the passing of James Baldwin.

Readers of this blog are already aware of my affection for St. James.

Democracy Now recently devoted part of a show to Baldwin's legacy, interviewing his sister-in-law Carole Weinstein as well as actor Calvin Levels, who is performing a one-man-show of James Baldwin called "James Baldwin: Down From the Mountaintop." Hopefully it will come to Houston. (Read a review here.)

As I reflect on the life of St. James, particularly during the Advent season, I'm drawn to the hope--critical, exacting, honest, and yes, prophetic--resident in Baldwin's writing, his plays, his speaking, and above all the hope evidenced by his living. And, in a sense, Baldwin's words, whether written or spoken, seem to never return void.

So take time during the holiday season to read something of Jimmy's--The Fire Next Time, Another Country, Nobody Knows My Name, or anything else that comes to mind. Share your reflections and thoughts--gift someone with Baldwin during the holidays.

Or, you can following Baldwin on-line. Watch a C-SPAN special here. Visit the blog of Professor Zero who has a page of Baldwin links. For those more familiar with Baldwin's work, there's tons to read here, or here. Or, read Baldwin quotes with links to other great sites.

Finally, artist Claire Burch has created some wonderfully stunning artwork with Baldwin as its subject, shares articles and letters, and offers poetic reflections on St. James as well--ironically titled "Arrival of James Baldwin; Mysterious Circumstances."

This is Advent with St. James.

[Photo credit here.]