Danté Stewart’s letter to America
Shoutin’ in the Fire is a testimony to Black liberation and love.
Danté Stewart’s debut is a letter to America, a letter not of hatred but of hope. Like the Bible’s epistles, it is simultaneously an admonishment toward love and justice and a refusal to appease the power wielders and empires of the world. Stewart stands in the fire and calls his readers out of comfort, out of complacency, and into a new way of imagining our life together.
This book is guided by key moments of Stewart’s life across different spiritual, communal, and physical locations. From the smell of fried chicken floating up from the basement of his childhood Pentecostal church to the “nice white Christians” of evangelical megachurches in Georgia, Stewart invites readers to examine with him what it means to be Black and Christian in America, “caught between a terrifying and inescapable reality: the Bible, the country, and the body.” The primary theme that runs through the book—that “Black people are worthy of the deepest love”—unfolds in two movements.
The first movement highlights the lessons Stewart learned through his childhood in the American South and his migration into White evangelical spaces. He explains his early efforts to make sense of his story as a young Black man in America and the “cost of ‘making’ it in a white world” that cares only about Black bodies in performance or in pain. He describes pieces of his childhood in South Carolina, his experience as a college athlete at Clemson University, and the energetic evangelicals there who eventually led him into the doors of their White church. In this context, Stewart was deeply formed personally and theologically, rejecting the Black spiritual roots of his childhood for a John MacArthur brand of Reformed theology and the pulpits it offered. “I lost the Black world I came from,” Stewart writes, and “the cost didn’t matter. The rewards of whiteness were too great.”