The Endless Psychodrama Around the Psychodrama around Jeremiah Wright

In this week’s episode I examine his speech today at the National Press Club. The Speech that the vast majority will not listen to (which can be viewed here, here, and here,)

The speech is not what is getting the reaction. It is the Q&A after the speech that is generating the controversy, which goes to show nothing like controversy I guess.

The reaction across the blogosphere has been imo pathetic–even from Obama supporters like Andrew Sullivan.

Right now my Christian side is more pissed off, much more pissed off, than my pro-Obama side.

If you listen to the speech, the central thesis is that the attacks on Wright are really an attack on Trinity United Church and therefore by extension the black church. And when he says this, the crowd voices approval. Serious approval.

I happen to agree. Not 100%, but the attack on the black church is there. Not that it should matter as the letter to MLK said, but since it does, I’m white and Christian and attacks on fellow Christians, particularly ones as ignorant as this debacle, are attacks on my faith, on brothers and sisters of mine in Christ. So I can totally grok Wright’s anger.

Not that this attack was intentional by most of the media, they are just far too ignorant of Christianity and particularly this line of Christianity to have done so purposefully. Listen to the stupidity of the questions in the Question and Answer session. Mind blowing. They are degrading and some really racist stuff comes out (“Do you believe white people go to heaven? Do you believe God loves white people as much as black people–WHAT THE F–K?).  Just absolutely demeaning stuff that just shows nobody was listening to his talk and came in with their preconceived notions–again unintentional if racially charged to be sure. There nonetheless. But it just shows how wide the gulf of misunderstanding is.

It’s depressing for me at first, but also cleansing and inspiring hope because it gives a clearer sense of what really is going on with folks. And as Wright points out God can write straight lines with crooked human ways–and turn evil to good. The fact that this is out may possibly, as he says, allow people to actually learn about and hear the gospel proclaimed through this rich tradition.

He traces the history of the black church through slavery, through Jim Crow, and into today.

He says it is held up by three pillars: reconciliation, transformation, and liberation. He prefers the term “prophetic theology of the black church” than “black liberation theology” but the basic point is the same. And his description and practice of that tradition is as clear as you will ever hear. [For Spiral Dynamics people this is the positive contribution of green theology].

The central insight of reconciliation in this tradition is that the slave as well as the master are enslaved. It is the role of this prophetic faith of the slave to invite the master into the same worship service, so they can both lay down their fight, their enmity, and their alienation from one another.

That as Wright says (quoting James Cone) the god prayed to by the slave owners on the deck of the ship is not the God prayed to by those in the belly of the ship in chains. And it is to invite the slave holders down to the bottom of the ship and experience the God they worship.

A God who says, “Let my People Go.”

The other point post-Civil Rights for this tradition to continue is to say that different is not deficient. There are limitations to this view (as well as to the pacifism of this theology), but also real strengths.  And particularly in Christianity, which is the context in which these statements are made and which has a long history of the opposite, that Christians can maintain whatever culture they have and be unapologetically Christian.  i.e. They don’t have to become culturally white/European/Euro-American to become Christian.

You hear this critique when Wright says he’s not being “bombastic”, is not the “spiritual mentor/adviser” of Obama, but rather just he’s plain old pastor.  He’s not a politician and why should his (Wright’s) political views matter in an election where he is not running?

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Published in: on April 28, 2008 at 9:38 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] Obama, Jeremiah Wright |   After having given some air time to my religious voice, here and here, time for my political voice to be given the […]


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