“Take this Hammer”

I found more James Baldwin stuff online!

Here’s a documentary, “Take this Hammer,” that follows Baldwin in the spring of 1963 throughout San Francisco. He says, as he and Orville Luster, his escort during the film, drive around: “There is no moral distance … between the facts of life in San Francisco and the facts of life in Birmingham. Someone’s got to tell it like it is. And that’s where it’s at.”

It’s amazing to me that so many of the truths of their time the individuals interviewed stated are applicable to this alleged post-racial society in which we now live 47 years later.

One man declared, “… Let everybody bleed a little bit. That’s the only way (black people) are ever going to get anything.”

A few of my contemporaries think that way still.

One of the most poignant and disheartening things stated, however, is Baldwin’s commentary on Christianity. He and Luster stand outside a Catholic church that disgruntled individuals attempted to burn down. The skeleton of the edifice that should stand for hope and change betrayed its truth.

“I was raised a Christian, you know. My daddy and my momma were very religious. They knew that white Christians were not Christians because of the way they treated black people. And the Christian church in this country has never, in my experience, as far as I know, been Christian. The record is much more … much more of a shameful record. The record proves that as we stand here this moment, the Christian church is bankrupt. Not a single person I could turn to, if I were to turn to one of those boys we were talking to yesterday. If I tried to tell them to go to church or even suggest the name of Jesus Christ, they’d spit in my face. And it’s not because he doesn’t like my face. It’s because of what white Christians have done and do and now deny. All these churches are absolutely meaningless. They’re almost blasphemous. If they don’t mean it, they should say so. Christianity has become a sort of social club. You have to have a membership card to get in. And black people can’t have a membership card. … I know the God shops are there to console a whole lot of desperate people.”

The differences between being a Christian and a Christ follower are many. Woe to us who wear the Christian label and live lives that look nothing like the one we claim to follow.

There are so many jewels in this film. I urge you to make time to watch it.

Click here to see the documentary in its entirety.

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~ by MsInklination on June 16, 2010.

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