Wednesday, February 18, 2009

the beginnings of a country

I don't know much about James Baldwin but was very glad to read Claudia Roth Pierrepont's article in the New Yorker, which ends with these sentences:
During his wanderings, Baldwin warned a friend who had urged him to settle down that “the place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it.” It was, of course, impossible to make such a place alone. But, by the grace of those who have kept on working, as he put it, “to make the kingdom new, to make it honorable and worthy of life,” we have at last the beginnings of a country to which James Baldwin could come home.

After reading the article I started thinking about writers and preachers who made great art or theology in the midst of their very bad circumstances. To catch just a few who have stayed with me: Richard Wurmbrand, in a Romanian prison, preaching sermons to himself (which he later published); Alexandr Solzhenitsyn using a rosary made from bread to memorize his novel; Dietrich Bonhoeffer singing his theology and love for the world from the prison cell; Irina Ratushinskaya, in the Gulag, writing her poems in bars of soap so as to learn them. They were all prisoners - and Christians - just the first four who came to mind. Need to think a bit more on why these four. I'll leave it at this for now.

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