Friday, March 14, 2008

Better Wright than wrong, again.

Alas, while I hope Senator Obama doesn't lose the nomination because of this, I have doubts. The divides in this country run too deep. For example, I can't expect say a white Presbyterian to feel comfortable with attending the majority of black churches in America. Just as they might not feel at home at an historically black college. Not because blacks would ostracize them, but because they would be exposed to acts of racial/cultural pride that they might be offended by. The Black community has, through its institutions - of which the church has been preeminent - continually attempted to reverse the psychic and social damage of slavery and poverty. Some of this has involved Afro centrism, which focuses on having pride in your cultural heritage, and not feeling ashamed of it. It does not promote hatred of whites. It promotes loving one's self.

It seems to me that blacks are most acceptable when they are docile. Sorry to burst your bubble, but most blacks deal with the dichotomy of being patriotic members of our society and at times vocal dissenters every day. America is great, but she is not perfect. America deserves our loyalty and service, but not serf-like docility. Black leaders since the 50's have sought to harness this dynamic in productive ways, but not to quench it. Rev. Wright's approach to sermonizing is aimed at harnessing the productive energy (faith -> action) of his constituency. His hyperbole may not suit some, but guess what? He is not talking to you. He is talking to a membership composed of people from Chicago's south side. Do you think you can motivate his 10,000 members to good works? Do you have the tools to serve as a bulwark in such an impoverished community? The whining I often see reminds me of the unrealistic attitudes civilians sometimes have towards the military and war. They want soldiers to be Boy Scouts when circumstances require them to be warriors, sometimes at great psychic cost.

Many of the things that Rev. Wright says have been said by other evangelical ministers, both black and white. Maybe not as colorfully, but they have been said. When he says God Damn America, he is echoing a chorus of religious commentators who have reflected on whether God would continue to shed his grace (unmerited favor) on this nation. In the kindler, gentler delivery of a Pat Robertson, it usually comes across as an appeal based on 2nd Chronicles 2:14 (KJV), which reads, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." What usually follows is a diatribe that warns what could happen if we don't follow this admonition, i.e., war, disease, poverty, cultural decay, etc. Many times this imagery is capped off with "evidence" by citing that when the historical nation of Israel sinned, God would punish them. Again, if you are not an evangelical, maybe you have not heard these kinds of sermons before. No excuses, just facts.

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