Danté Stewart

Shoutin' in the Fire: An American Epistle

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A stirring meditation of being Black and learning to love in a loveless, anti-Black world

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 granular level. Stewart uses his personal experiences as a window 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 excited to break barriers as the church’s first Black preacher. But when Trump began his campaign, so began the unearthing. Stewart began overhearing talk in the pews—comments ranging from microaggressions to outright disparaging rhetoric towards Black Americans. As this violence began to reveal itself en masse, Stewart quickly found himself and his family alone amid a people unraveled—their community of faith became the same place where they soon found themselves most alone. This set Stewart on a journey—first out of the white church, and into a liberating pursuit of faith, by looking to the wisdom of the saints before us, like James 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 the time of terror. Stewart reveals the profound faith found 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.