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Divine DiscontentThe Religious Imagination of W. E. B. Du Bois$
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Jonathon S. Kahn

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195307894

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195307894.001.0001

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“Behold the Sign of Salvation—A Noosed Rope”

“Behold the Sign of Salvation—A Noosed Rope”

The Promise and Perils of Du Bois's Economies of Sacrifice

(p.107) 5 “Behold the Sign of Salvation—A Noosed Rope”
Divine Discontent

Jonathon S. Kahn (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

A crucial moral virtue of Du Bois's religious discourse is the virtue of sacrifice. His discourse of sacrifice is composed of two halves. The first half is contained in his series of parables that depict the lynching of a black Christ figures. The other half is what he calls his “Gospel of Sacrifice,” in which he enjoins black Americans to sacrifice for each other and the country at large. The difficult questions at the heart of this chapter revolve around understanding these two halves of Du Bois's sacrificial discourse. This chapter argues that despite its dangers, Du Bois acts as a Durkheimian priest and battles America's sacrificial perversions with an empowering discourse of sacrifice of his own. Du Bois attempts to transform black Americans from the victims of a sacrificial system into agents of a sacrificial system who then make claims on the political, social, and even material goods of the sacrificial system.

Keywords:   black Christ, Durkheim, Gospel of Sacrifice, lynching, sacrifice, sacrificial agent

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