I was reading (re-reading) Irving Howe yesterday and came across his essay on Richard Wright and James Baldwin, which is a great example of a perceptive critic saying incredibly stupid things, especially about Baldwin.

The one that stuck out to me had to do with religion. I used to joke that political theorists on the whole had three categories of (Christian) religious belief, which appeared to be exhaustive and mutually exclusive: Catholic, Calvinist, and atheist. Howe describes Go Tell It On the Mountain as a book about the experience of black Calvinism, which... not even close. It's about black Pentecostalism (I mean, goodness, the church is "The Temple of the Fire Baptized Church," which is not any kind of Calvinist), which was emerging as a religious option at the time Baldwin's book was set, and is about as far from Calvinism as one can get. But if your theological categories are limited, and you already have an axe to grind about 'Calvinism," well...

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