They play clips of Wright imitating John F. Kennedy, taking it totally out of context, and say this is an indication that he's sparking racial divisions. Say what? Apparently a black man talking in public about racial inequities stirs up divisions.
I don't mean to wax on about politics, in fact I did not intend to write on politics at all. What I want to write on today (taking a break from my 21st Century Christian Fellowship series) is how inspired I became by Rev. Wright after reading his speech at the National Press Club yesterday.
It is good to hear the Gospel of Peace, and it is especially good to have it receive so much attention. I'm half-surprised that it received such a negative reaction. I guess it should not be a surprise considering Jesus promised the world would hate us for the sake of the Gospel. Of course with the majority of the nation claiming to be Christian, it's different.
What this points to is the spiritualization of the United States. If the Gospel does not say "America is blessed by God" or comes down on America for her sins, it's a bad Gospel.
Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.- 1Cor.1.22Jeremiah Wright isn't against America, and he consistently states how grateful he is to live in this country, and has served six years in the military (often drawing criticism on his accusers who have not served at all). But he does call the nation to repentance for her sins regarding oppression, usury, and rejecting the poor. He gets a lot of criticism for one line out of a forty-minute sermon about the character of God where he said, "God damn America" because we do not care for the oppressed and even cause oppression. I don't think that needs to be defended, but it's not anti-American, and it's not anti-patriotic (except to those who think patriotism is an uncritical view of the nation as a whole - even though they're critical of the "left," hypocritically). But he was using the language of the prophets who said, "Woe to you" for the poor in your land go hungry while you fill your bellies.
So while the media, and right-wing pundits, are falling over themselves to play six-second clips of the Reverend in order to slander him, they ignore when he says, "Maybe now, as an honest dialogue about race in this country begins, a dialogue called for by Senator Obama and a dialogue to begin in the United Church of Christ among 5,700 congregations in just a few weeks, maybe now, as that dialogue begins, the religious tradition that has kept hope alive for people struggling to survive in countless hopeless situation, maybe that religious tradition will be understood, celebrated, and even embraced by a nation that seems not to have noticed why 11 o’clock on Sunday morning has been called the most segregated hour in America."
While they're calling him "racist" and "bigoted," they ignore when he says, "And maybe now we can begin to take steps to move the black religious tradition from the status of invisible to the status of invaluable, not just for some black people in this country, but for all the people in this country."
This is good stuff, but his detractors don't want to hear it, they want to shout over him, demonizing him for no other purpose than it hurts their political foe. His words wouldn't even be in the news if we weren't in a Presidential election year and a black man was running.
Maybe this dialogue on race, an honest dialogue that does not engage in denial or superficial platitudes, maybe this dialogue on race can move the people of faith in this country from various stages of alienation and marginalization to the exciting possibility of reconciliation.And they continue to smear Black theologians because they don't understand it. They're afraid of the rhetoric because it implicates us all, black and white, in the sin of oppression.
The prophetic tradition of the black church has its roots in Isaiah, the 61st chapter, where God says the prophet is to preach the gospel to the poor and to set at liberty those who are held captive. Liberating the captives also liberates who are holding them captive.
It frees the captives and it frees the captors. It frees the oppressed and it frees the oppressors.He brings the Church back to Jesus Christ, whose first message was from Isaiah.
The prophetic theology of the black church is not only a theology of liberation; it is also a theology of transformation, which is also rooted in Isaiah 61, the text from which Jesus preached in his inaugural message, as recorded by Luke.And while the media calls him divisive, he's calling us to unity with one another. Somehow they've missed his message.
The Apostle Paul said, "Be ye reconciled one to another, even as God was in Christ reconciling the world to God’s self."
God does not desire for us, as children of God, to be at war with each other, to see each other as superior or inferior, to hate each other, abuse each other, misuse each other, define each other, or put each other down.Maybe the offense comes because we don't want to face our sins. We don't want to know we've wronged anyone. Wright evokes Jim Wallis, "America’s sin of racism has never even been confessed, much less repented for."
And this is a message that needs to be taken to the Church mostly, but also to the world.
Shame on the media, God bless Jeremiah Wright, a brother in Christ.