James Baldwin “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”

“Precious Lord, Take My Hand” – I learned a great deal from James Baldwin and haven’t written as much as I had planned. But I read and read. On my bedside table I have copies of Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time. I randomly opened the latter with the hope of finding a suitable quote and this is what I came upon

“The White man’s Heaven sings a Black Muslim minister, is the Black mans Hell”………The Africans put it another way. When the white man came to Africa, the white man had the bible and the African had the land, but now it is the white man who is being, reluctantly and bloodily separated from the land, and the African who is still attempting to digest or vomit up the Bible”

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Baldwin then delves into the historical relationship between Christianity, politics, power and morals – a religion like most which is more concerned with the “soul” then the “body” – souls are saved as bodies of the unrighteous are massacred! Killing the homo will save his/her soul. It’s for their own good, that way they wont burn in hell.

God travelled in different directions – Christianity, “rising on the wings of power” became white as it travelled north and west whilst Islam “out of power” became Black and travelled south and east on the dark side of Heaven [in the minds of the Christian church] so in this way they, Muslims, can now fill the void of the necessary evil that is craved.

He makes the observation [sometimes I wish Baldwin were still here so he could see how his observations remain the same today as 50 years ago] that questioning the authority of the true faith, questions the right of those that hold the faith to rule over them which goes back to his point about power, politics and morals and the role of religions in controlling the political and personal agendas. Baldwin knew about religions, he was steeped in the Black church with a father who was a pastor. These things never leave you. I should know I was brought up in a catholic high church school system where there is much fire and brimstone. The fortune I had was this brainwashing and fear mongering was not replicated at home so remained like a cover of dust rather than sticking to me like clogs of mud. Notice how often mass fear mongering and hatred are justified with religious texts of one kind or the other; how religions are drenched in oppression and supremacy.
Baldwin ends by saying that if God, whatever the religion, cannot be used to make us “freer and more loving” as in the God of “Precious Lord”, then we had best get rid of “Him”.

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear precious Lord linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When the darkness appears and the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I’m tired, I’m weak, Lord I’m worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home