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AnonymousDeleted UserSeptember 17, 2020 at 9:54 pm
***Disclaimer: I completed Thurman and am aboout ⅓ way through Jesus and John Wayne at this writing***
Thurman embraces Christ’s marginality to make him accessible to those grappling with an oppressive mid- 20th century American social order. Du Mez explores a Jesus deployed by the religious right to rescue White masculinity wherever it’s power is threatened by the marginalized assuming more power and influence in American society.
Ironically, Thurman’s 1940s text reads like today’s newspaper headlines and is an indictment on our unfinished business regarding racial justice in American life. Damn infuriating, this was.
Thurman would have been a contemporary of my own grandparents…and yet my 9 year-old-daughter lives at a time where citizens of color STILL GRAPPLE with how to negotiate white supremacy, state-sanctioned violence, gender disparities and internalized oppression.
( ***And if I might loop in the Pynchon’s reflections here: reading of Pynchon’s chronicle of his missteps, errors, youthful indiscretions of his youth— again in mid-20th century America— reminded me of the latitude and grace TOO RARELY AFFORDED to Thurman’s marginalized Black men—then or now. ***)
Returning to Thurman: For Thurman, though, understanding Jesus’ own race and class context allowed Thurman to apply Jesus life under colonial occupation to Negro American life mid-century calling Negroes to move from fear to faith in God.
Interestingly, Du Mez is also in dialogue with Thurman’s mid-20th century America, but provides us an opportunity to consider what life looks like for those who— are not disinherited— sit atop America’s racial hierarchy. In so doing, Du Mez explores various forms of “Christianity” rooted in White male power, virility, militarism and suppression of women, youth, minorities of all kinds.
Du Mez’s text is a PROFOUND meditation on how White American Evangelical Patriarchy has colluded across time with government, industry, military and most key American institutions to wield power, influence and wealth for their purveyors.
Both texts examine American masculinities in the context of faith. Yet, fascinatingly, Du Mez hardly mentions Thurman’s Palestinian Jew living under Roman occupation. Might that be because THAT JESUS has so little to do with the Christianity practiced in too many American churches?