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Sacred FireFaith Cross, a beautiful young black woman from the Georgia back country, was left little to live by. Her mother, Lavidia, left her with only this: Faith must find herself a "Good Thing." Faith does not know what this Good Thing is, but she knows it is what she needs to find the peace and happiness she so fervently desires. Before her mother dies, Faith is "saved," and at first, God appears to fulfill her need. But the satisfaction she derives from that episode pales in comparison to the expectations of the mysterious Good Thing. Dissatisfied with her first shot at salvation, Faith follows the advice of a seer, the Swamp Woman, and goes to Chicago to continue her search.
In Chicago, Faith falls prey to rape and gets heavily involved in prostitution, drugs, and alcohol. Her quest for the Good Thing leads her into doomed romances, childbirth, and a haunting relationship with a philosopher named Dr. Richard M. Barrett, who also searches in vain fur the Good Thing. Faith's journey magically leads her back to the land of her youth and a realization of the Good Thing.
Charles Johnson, only the second African American author to win the National Book Award (in 1991 for The Middle Passage), is a philosopher at heart. In The Good Thing, Faith's journey represents our individual search for self. Unlike Richard Wright, concerned as he was with the external conditions that affect existence—physical salvation—Johnson, in Faith and the Good Thing, searches for salvation of the spirit. This seminal work, structured as a folktale, precedes by twenty-five years the queries and answers offered by "new age" African American self-help authors.