Charles H. Long and the Opacity of Blackness
This chapter interrogates religious historian Charles Long's construal of black religion and the discourse of (black) theology as these bear on Afro‐Christian faith. Central to Long's outlook, which is in ascendancy in the field of African American religious studies, is his notion of “the opaque” and his rather postmodern notion of “signification.” The chapter unpacks these notions, while raising a serious note of alarm about the field's direction, given that a Longian perspective is unable to make sense of the Christianity of Afro‐Christianity. Indeed, it interprets black Christianity as diverse significations, as varied cultural reflexes, of black religion. Yet paradoxically, does this not show this form of thought's captivity to the very supersessionism or Christian anti‐Jewishness that is the constituting foundation of modernity? In arguing that it does, the chapter calls for a new direction for interpreting Afro‐Christian faith, one that escapes modernity's racial gaze of whiteness.
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