by Danté Stewart – Convergent Books
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A stirring meditation of being Black and learning to love in a loveless, anti-Black world
“Only once in a lifetime do we come across a writer like Danté Stewart, so young and yet so masterful with the pen. This work is a thing to make dungeons shake and hearts thunder.”—Robert Jones, Jr., New York Times bestselling author of The Prophets
In Shoutin’ in the Fire, Danté Stewart gives breathtaking language to his reckoning with the legacy of white supremacy—both the kind that hangs over our country and the kind that is internalized on a molecular level. Stewart uses his personal experiences as a vehicle to reclaim and reimagine spiritual virtues like rage, resilience, and remembrance—and explores how these virtues might function as a work of love against an unjust, unloving world.
In 2016, Stewart was a rising leader at the predominantly white evangelical church he and his family were attending in Augusta, Georgia. Like many young church leaders, Stewart was thrilled at the prospect of growing his voice and influence within the community, and he was excited to break barriers as the church’s first Black preacher. But when Donald Trump began his campaign, so began the unearthing. Stewart started overhearing talk in the pews—comments ranging from microaggressions to outright hostility toward Black Americans. As this violence began to reveal itself en masse, Stewart quickly found himself isolated amid a people unraveled; this community of faith became the place where he and his family now found themselves most alone. This set Stewart on a journey—first out of the white church and then into a liberating pursuit of faith—by looking to the wisdom of the saints that have come before, including James H. Cone, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison, and by heeding the paradoxical humility of Jesus himself.
This sharply observed journey is an intimate meditation on coming of age in a time of terror. Stewart reveals the profound faith he discovered even after experiencing the violence of the American church: a faith that loves Blackness; speaks truth to pain and trauma; and pursues a truer, realer kind of love than the kind we’re taught, a love that sets us free.
“Some of us joke about Jesus needing better PR than what today’s evangelical church provides. Enter Danté Stewart. With unparalleled candor, vulnerability, and love, Stewart takes us along his personal journey to understanding what it is to be Black, Christian, and American. The church is long overdue for a reckoning with white supremacy, and Stewart has written a brilliant blueprint.”—Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
“Danté Stewart breaks himself open and exhibits rare courage. For a man like me, someone who walked away from the church long ago in an effort to preserve my faith, he has provided water with these words. This is a baptismal pool.”—Jason Reynolds, #1 New York Times bestselling author of All American Boys, Long Way Down, and Miles Morales: Spider-Man
“Standing in a centuries old tradition of spiritual autobiography, Shoutin’ in the Fire is at once a coming of age story and a conversion narrative. From Pentecostal origins, he travels through institutions that hold onto an idea of ‘white Jesus,’ and finally to a spiritual reckoning in which he recognizes Black life to be not only valuable but holy. . .I highly recommend this book.”—Imani Perry, Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and author of Breathe: A Letter to My Sons
“A magnificent offering.”—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir
“Danté Stewart’s voice rising is one of the reasons I believe in our common future. It is an honor to be invited into the intimacy, honesty, and inborn wisdom that he offers up in his experiences and insights, his prayers and his theology, his grief and his rage, his exuberance and his love. This book is a kind of map in stories and truths to how we might, as a people, become more whole.”—Krista Tippett, host of On Being and author of Becoming Wise
“At once personal and prophetic. . . Stewart’s words ache and groan through the page, both a beloved ode to Blackness and an injunction against the evil that refuses to recognize our sacredness.”—Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, senior minister at Middle Collegiate Church and author of Fierce Love
“God bless Danté Stewart for telling the truth. By confessing how he was himself captivated by the lies of ‘Americanity,’ he highlights the gift of the Black Pentecostal tradition that we share and points powerfully toward the beloved community that welcomes all. Shoutin’ In the Fire is a revelation. Receive it.”—Bishop William J. Barber, II, author of The Third Reconstruction and We Are Called To Be A Movement
“An emotional meditation on race, religion, and nation. In Danté Stewart’s boldly revealing stories of love, pain and renewal, we find our own.”—Jemar Tisby, founder of The Witness, Inc. and New York Times bestselling author of The Color of Compromise and How to Fight Racism
“Shoutin’’ In the Fire is Stewart’s debut as both a great spiritual writer and an interpreter of America’s greatest source of practical wisdom—the Black-led freedom movement.”—Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of Revolution of Values
“A magnificent debut. . . If you read one book this year, make it this one.”—Kristin Kobes Du Mez, New York Times bestselling author of Jesus and John Wayne
“Extraordinary. . . A moving wakeup call to us all.”—Katherine Stewart, author of The Power Worshippers