“A shame…for the Church”: Exploring Society’s impact on religion and family

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In “Homophobia and Heterosexism in the Black Church and Community,” Kelly Brown Douglas “outline[s] the general contours of [Black homophobia] as it seeks to understand the relationship between Black homophobia and Black oppression, particularly the exploitation of Black sexuality” (998). Responses to sexuality, as also pointed out by Angela Davis, in the black community, are heavily shaped and “refracted by White culture” (998). Douglas’s focus on the relationship between homosexuality and the Black family is an intriguing point, as the film “Nothing but a Man” proposes the importance of family within Black communities. Still, Douglas’s adds to the understanding of White cultural attacks against Black families, such as the Moynihan report. In response to attacks, Douglas points out that the Black community “advocates White family norms,” norms which construct a family model “more acceptable in white patriarchal and heterosexist society” (1008). How would this more in-depth understanding of white culture’s attacks against the family add to our knowledge of “Nothing but a Man?” One of Douglas’s points that I want to explore is the relationship between text and oral traditions in culture. It appears there is a social factor within that relationship because Black communities echo stories from the Bible “that have served Black people well in their struggle for life and freedom” (1003). I want to explore further the relationship between texts and oral traditions within varying cultures.

The information provided in the second prompt regarding the story of Ruth and Naomi along with the contextual evidence of “Blessed Assurance” enhances an understanding of Hughes’s tale as it shows a disconnection not between the church and the text, but between the church and community members, such as John. This disconnection between John and the church is heightened with a rapidly chaining urban landscape, as shown with the disintegration of his marriage, when his wife went to live with a wealthy man with political ties in South Philadelphia and Harlem, which leaves John commenting that the departure was “a shame for his children, for the church, and for him” (1). There are various instances of a rapidly chaining society, such as implementing jazz music in church, globalization, as Delmar wishes to travel to France for his studies, and changes within American masculinity as Delmar shifts away from traditional American sports, such as football. The societal forces that are rapidly changing at this time show that the disconnection is not between the church and religion, but more so community members struggling to find closure within the church.

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