“Appeal to the Christian Women of the South” by Angelina Grimke

This song, “Roll Away Your Stone” by Mumford & Sons doesn’t immediately have an obvious parallels to the reading, but when I was looking for songs and this one came on, I couldn’t help notice certain lyrics that seems to pertain to Grimke’s argument, even if subtle or in a different way. For example, the first line “roll away your stone, I’ll roll away mine” is like asking blacks and white to stop disagreeing and get along because, according to God, everyone is equal, regardless of skin color. Then there’s the line, “arkness is a harsh term don’t you think? And yet it dominates the things I see.” Here I relate it to the narrator’s vision of the world in regard to the treatment of slaves and women. Lastly, I’ll point out the last three lines, “But you, you’ve gone too far this time / you have neither reason nor rhyme / for which to take this soul that is so rightfully mine.” Maybe the author doesn’t explicitly talk about souls, but the implication here is that the you in the song refers to someone who wants to take control over the narrator, except it isn’t their right. In the same way, it isn’t the right of the white people to own blacks as slaves or marginalize women. I felt the need to explain this connection a bit further since it wasn’t quite as obvious as some of the other songs I’ve used.

Song connection aside, I really enjoyed this reading. It reminded me of “An Indian’s Looking Glass for the White Man” by William Apess. Both pieces point out the hypocrisy of Christians who are willing to marginalize a certain race even though their faith actually advises against such behavior. One of the quotes that I thought was important was when Grimke talks about the consequences of speaking out and spreading truth. She wrote,

“Peter and John might just as well have said, we will not preach the gospel, for if we do, we shall be taken up and put in prison, therefore there will be no use in our preaching. Consequences, my friends, belong no more to you, than they did to these apostles,” (2149).

Grimke is calling people to be like the apostles who preached the gospel despite what could have happened to them. She says that these excuses are exactly that. Excuses. Grimke references the Bible on multiple occasions to point out specific passages or examples of where it mentions that marginalizing behavior is wrong. She speaks this to Christians in the south where racism is most prevalent, and she does this in the same way Apess did, except that she also calls out women specifically. I also particularly like how she mentions that following the words of man rather than God is considered dangerous but that she isn’t afraid to say it anyway because it is straight from the Bible. Much like Apess, she takes this sacred text and throws it back at those people who do not act according to its teachings.

She continues on the next page saying something equally, if not more, interesting.

“If a law commands me to sin I will break it; if it calls me to suffer, I will let it take its course unresistingly. The doctrine of blind obedience and unqualified submission to any human power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, is the doctrine of despotism, and ought to have no place among Republicans and Christians,” (2150).

This reminded me a lot of what Thoreau says in his piece “Resistance to Civil Government.” Grimke is calling people to stop blindly following the laws if they are dehumanizing. She is encouraging Christians to take a stand against laws that call for sinning and obedience, and I think it has a powerful message in this piece. I like that she calls it “unqualified submission to any human power” because it could relate to more than just the government. It could relate to other leaders in homes or churches or other places in society where people can be influenced. I think it still resonates today because people will sometimes blindly follow whatever is popular, and that is exactly what Grimke doesn’t want and says shouldn’t belong in our world.

I thought this piece was a good display of hypocrisy in religion, and Grimke argues back on all excuses.


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