Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wright's Message vs. His Methods

It is clear to me from so many of the reactionary comments concerning Rev. Wright that precious few of the commentators have ever set foot in a black church, or have any significant acquaintances that have. If they did, they would realize that Rev. Wright is not an anomaly in the black community. In fact, his ethnicity aside, he is not really an anomaly in evangelical Christianity. First, to call Wright and those like him racist or anti-American is ludicrous. Yes folks, many black pastors lace their messages with imagery and hyperbole that tie scriptural accounts of struggle and triumph to the struggles of their parishioners. This is an act of relevancy. It is not racist. There is no call for retribution. There is no call for violence. There is no call for hatred. There is no call for incivility. Rather, the call is to reflection, repentance, and dedication to God and his principles.

Please hear this - when a black minister points out the existence of institutional racism in the greater society, or the ungodly acts of our government, he is attacking the passivity and apathy of his listeners. To what end? In the Christian message, change begins within, not through external acts like violence. This message calls the hearers to personal accountability. It teaches them that they cannot depend on the greater society to solve all of their problems nor to rescue them. It reinforces to them that there may even be cases where either the government or government-supported industry may disregard their safety or well-being – as in the Syphilis experiments on blacks. It teaches them that those in power don’t always have their best interests at heart, but that God does! This continues to be an important message is some corners of the black community, especially those where blacks may have been victimized due to their prior passivity or undue trust in the supposedly benign acts of the greater society, i.e., whites. It is this message of personal responsibility, of pride, of enduring faith, and yes, of strength that draws young black men to the church. No doubt, Senator Obama connected with some aspect of this message as a young community organizer in Chicago, and once settled in his new "church family," felt no need to leave, despite the occasional odd comment from the pulpit.

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