it was clearly this, but also a recoiling from the supernatural & mystical tendencies of much of the historical civil rights struggle, which promise next-worldly redemption & salvation as solace for broken bodies — a solace denied to TNC, an atheist concerned solely with this world:
I believed, and still do, that our bodies are our selves, that my soul is the voltage conducted through neurons and nerves, and that my spirit is my flesh.
…The spirit and soul are the body and brain, which are destructible — that is precisely why they are so precious. And the soul did not escape. The spirit did not steal away on gospel wings. The soul was the body that fed the tobacco, and the spirit was the blood that watered the cotton, and these created the first fruits of the American garden. And the fruits were secured through the bashing of children with stovewood, through hot iron peeling skin away like husk from corn.
…And I have no God to hold me up. And I believe that when they shatter the body they shatter everything, and I knew that all of us — Christians, Muslims, atheists — lived in this fear of this truth. Disembodiment is a kind of terrorism, and the threat of it alters the orbit of all our lives and, like terrorism, this distortion is intentional.
…Have you ever looked at the faces? The faces are neither angry, nor sad, nor joyous. They betray almost no emotion. They look out past their tormentors, past us, and focus on something way beyond anything known to me. I think they are fastened to their god, a god whom I cannot know and in whom I do not believe. But, god or not, the armor is all over them, and it is real.