Document Type

Contribution to Book

Title

Polyamorous Bastards: James Baldwin's Opening to a Queer Religious Naturalism

Source Publication

Meaningful Flesh: Reflections on Religion and Nature for a Queer Planet

Publication Date

2018

Editor

Whitney A. Bauman

Publisher

Punctum Books

City

New York, New York

ISBN

978-1-947447-32-5

First Page

23

Last Page

51

Department

Religious Studies

Abstract

In this chapter, I explore in the rich conceptual space suggested by Baldwin’s bastard metaphor, specifically using the trope of the bastard to advance a queer African-American religious naturalism that resists and challenges normative views of nature, religiosity, and sexuality. I first examine Baldwin’s religious insights into the dangers of substantialist views of god and religion, which held in place white racist constructs, problematic cultural practices, and heteronormative sexualities. Inspired by Baldwin’s creative reach, I emphasize the pleasurable “roaming” of a queer African-American religious naturalism that celebrates humans’ radical relationality with each other and with other natural processes. As such, this religious naturalism resists static categories of nature, religion, and embodiment.

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