Fire Shut Up in My Bones

“…you may try your best to repress a truth, but you cannot because it hurts!  It’s literally painful.  And until you release it, it will feel like a fire shut up in my [your] bones.”

-Charles M. Blow, Author of Fire Shut Up in My Bones

Tickets are sold out to jazz great Terence Blanchard’s [1] “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” [2], the first opera by a black composer to be featured at New York City’s prestigious Metropolitan Opera.

This is not “Oklahoma!”.  There are no songs here that will become popular hits, later sung by schoolchildren.  The music is instead somber, in a minor key.  The story is powerful and moving – a coming of age story set in the Deep South; a story of sexual abuse and resilience.

That story is based on the autobiographical memoir [3][4][5] of New York Times op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow [6].

The son of a hardworking mother and feckless father, Charles (known then as “Char’es-Baby”) was a lonely child, the youngest of five brothers raised in poverty.  Molested at the age of 7 by an older cousin who described the abuse as “just a game” and threatened him with death if he disclosed the secret, Charles was afterwards tormented by self-blame and homosexual desires.

The central question posed by the opera is whether an adult Charles will take revenge on his predator, in an effort to kill the part of himself he despises.

In the end, Charles realizes that he is “made in God’s image:  glorious and scarred…magnificent and flawed.”

Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.’  But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not” (Jer. 20: 9).

[1]  Wikipedia, Terence Blanchard,

[2]  DirecTV, Great Performances at the Met (S16, E3),

[3]  Charles M. Blow, Fire Shut Up in My Bones,  HarperCollins Publishers (2014).

[4]  Wikipedia, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones”,

[5]  SuperSummary, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones”,

[6]  Wikipedia, Charles M. Blow,



Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Religion, Sexual Abuse

13 responses to “Fire Shut Up in My Bones

  1. Realizing we are made in God’s image, and that we are precious to God, changes our heart, and frees us from the drive to destroy – either ourselves or others.

  2. God’s redemption of life wounds and scars is beautiful.

  3. Wonderful testimony of Gods love and restoration !
    Thank you for sharing Anna..

  4. Having wrestled for many years with those same tortuous thoughts of vengeance, I can attest to the fact that scarred though we may be, there is indeed a Balm in Gilead.

  5. Reblogged this on Pennies For Dreams and commented:
    Post By ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed

  6. It’s been a such very long time since I have been to the opera! I think I need to plan an outing soon!

    Thank you for sharing this!

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