Baldwin's Harlem Comes to London

A production of The Amen Corner has enthralled Britain with its universal themes on religion.

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We witness, too, the raw pain of Margaret's apostasy and her regret at having devoted the best part of her life to ideals that she duly realizes are, in fact, false -- but we also see the heartfelt liberation that apostasy can bring. Yet Baldwin's play is principally about the redemptive power of love. Margaret's road to self-knowledge is an arduous and painful one, but at the play's close, despite losing the church, she gains something of even greater value.

With his lyrical articulation of the beauty of secular salvation and the intrinsic nobility of profane (as opposed to sacred) love, Baldwin is more relevant than ever -- a timely, sagacious voice in an increasingly dangerous world where strident religious faith is becoming alarmingly omnipresent.

So praise the Lord! Baldwin's back in town. London is undoubtedly much richer for having this fecund slice of Harlem life from which to learn. Echoing Dante's conclusion to The Divine Comedy, Baldwin serves to remind us that love is the animating principle of the universe. Long may this secular saint inspire us with his deep, benevolent humanity and instill us with the wisdom of this rousing sermon on the indomitable power of love.

Lindsay Johns is a London-based writer and broadcaster. He currently blogs on current affairs and culture for the Daily Mail online.

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