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By Josiah Ulysses Young III (auth.)

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Extra resources for James Baldwin’s Understanding of God: Overwhelming Desire and Joy

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It was,” then, “better to remember: Thou knowest this man’s fall; but thou knowest not his wrassling” (CE, 78–79). Despite the fact that David Baldwin had hurt James Baldwin more than anyone had or would, he realized through his therapeutic writing that he could not judge his father. In writing of his father’s death many years later, Baldwin came to see that his “Lord” signifies the best that is within the human heart: mercy, forgiveness, compassion, justice—grace that filled his heart and soul with overwhelming desire for more grace, more joy.

The concept of majority is thus primarily qualitative rather than quantitative. , who believed his “God” had equipped human beings 32 James Baldwin’s Understanding of God to uphold one another’s birthrights and inheritances eventually, Baldwin writes that “the most trenchant observers” of the Little Rock debacle believed the white mobs did not represent “the Southern majority will” but “a moral vacuum,” which also indicates to him that people want to be better than they are but do not know how.

Baldwin understands Dickens’s concern, pointing out during his discussion of the film that beneath “the resonance of the word, revolution, thundered the word, revenge. But: vengeance is mine, saith the Lord” (Rom. 12:19; Deut. 32:35): A hard saying, the identity of the Lord becoming, with the passage of time, either a private agony or an abstract question. And, to put it as simply as it can be put, unless one can conceive of (and endure) an abstract life, there can be no abstract questions. A question is a threat, the door which slams shut, or swings open: on another threat.

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