Divisive or Descriptive?

copyright © 2008 Forgiven. The Disputed Truth

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright spoke at the Detroit Chapter of the NAACP’s annual fundraising event over the weekend. The speech was carried by CNN live and allowed Reverend Wright to speak to his critics while at the same time speaking to the larger theme of the event which was, “A Change is Gonna Come.” Like so much of what occurs in American society the speech will be evaluated based on the listener’s frame of reference. For many in the black community the speech will be hailed as brilliant and will demonstrate Reverend’s Wright superior intellect and skilled articulation talents. For some in the white community it will be misconstrued and reinforce their views of him as being divisive. How is it possible that so many people can hear the same speech and yet reach so many different conclusions?

Are we so divided and so different that we can’t even acknowledge our differences. And having once acknowledged those differences can we not celebrate them or are we so tribal that anyone who is not exactly like us we view as deficient? In rhetoric and language befitting a leader in the black Church, Dr. Wright attempted to characterize the differences we share and their history to depict why there are those who are either unable or unwilling to understand his past characterizations of the country that he served. Let’s be clear, many of those who are questioning the patriotism of Reverend Wright have themselves chosen for whatever reasons not to serve their country, except as Mitt Romney so aptly described by campaigning for their fathers. Reverend Wright served this country as not only a Marine, but also as a member of the US Navy.

I am no expert in democracy or in Constitutional law, but I believe that if someone chooses to place his life on the line in defense of this nation, a nation that for a long time refused to apply equal protection for all of its citizens, has a right to criticize that same nation. I am so sick and tired of this false wing-nut narrative that anyone who criticizes America is anti-America or anyone who does not wear a flag lapel pin is giving aid and comfort to terrorists. As if to say that anything and everything that has been done in America and by America has been right. Forgive me, but my take on the Freedom of Speech clause is that as members of a democracy we have the right to criticize or to praise our nation as we see fit. Whether you agree with his views or not, Reverend Wright has every right to express them. Why is it that we have to display our war stance when it comes to surrendering our civil rights, but we do not have to display it when it comes to making actual sacrifices for the effort?

While I agree with the basic premise of Reverend Wright’s speech which is, why must everything and everyone be placed under “the white man’s burden?” For those who are not aware the white man’s burden is to elevate the blacks, reds, browns, and yellows of this world to the grand standard of Western European culture, as if to say no other culture has brought anything to the world but them. Just because you are a bully that doesn’t make you right, it just makes you a bully. If it were not for the Native American culture, those great European settlers would have never survived in this hemisphere. There are those who expect those of us who have received the brunt of American discrimination and racism to quietly accept our fate and anyone who “describes” those atrocities are being divisive. Are we to believe that those perpetrating these atrocities are doing so with the purpose of unifying us as a Nation?

Where I take exception with Reverend Wright and any other spokesman of God, is that while it is important to speak out against injustice and all the other deficiencies in human character, one must do so in a different forum than the Church. I understand that for many years in the black community the Church was the only release for the frustration and anger many felt with their conditions; however one must separate the worldly from the spiritual.

In other words, it is a sin to steal yet there maybe extenuating circumstances to mitigate the stealing. Those mitigating circumstances cannot be a part of the message of the Church against stealing, that message must be delivered outside of the Holy proclamation. Social causes while important must not be allowed to interfere with the true message of the Church. The Apostle Paul only preached one sermon repeatedly; “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”*

Representatives of God should not use the altar to assail their brothers no matter how large their shortcomings. One can acknowledge evil and injustice in a way that does not cast aspersions on any one group. Evil and inhumanity knows no color or race. The recent blood-letting in Africa can attest to that fact. In my opinion pointing out the ills of a government should not be done from the pulpit, but from the soap box in the public square. Ministers should separate the Church from social commentary, just as we have separation of Church and state for the protection of the Church, we also need it for the protection of the Republic. While it is becoming increasingly difficult in our society to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to give to God what is God’s, it is a distinction we must maintain at all costs.

* 1 Corinthians 2:2

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic ~ John F. Kennedy

Jeremiah Wright Is Not The Problem

copyright © 2008 Forgiven.  The Disputed Truth

Why is it that in America we always look for the easy and the convenient.  We always want everything to fit into a nice neat box.  That’s right, no contemplative thought, no analyzing, just give it to me in a form that will not require a lot of work or thought on my part.  It is a simple task to chalk up the Reverend Jeremiah Wright as some angry black lunatic who is going to single handedly destroy the Obamania tour.  It is amazing to me how so many people blogging will write all these prose and essays extolling the virtues of the American electorate and how badly they want policy white papers and how hungry they are for detailed plans.  When the truth of the matter, as the fall-out from Reverend Wright has once again displayed, is that the majority of voters could care less about timetables and figures.  Not when there is some juicy story floating around about some crazy black man and his relationship to the leading Democratic Presidential contender.

For those who prefer to accept the Cliffs notes version of events I would suggest you not read any further, because that is not what I will provide.  What I will provide is a provocative analysis of the real underlying problem as to why we are having this dust up about a relatively small-time pastor.  You see the real problem has nothing to do with Jeremiah Wright.  The real problem was exposed 40 years ago by Dr. Martin Luther King in an interview he gave at Western Michigan University.  In the interview, Dr. King stated that the most segregated hour in America is Sunday morning.  You see the problem is that because we do not interact not only Monday through Friday, but also on Sunday we have no concept as to what each other are thinking.  We, as blacks are given a better glimpse into white society because we are bombarded with its images on a constant basis.  Whites on the other hand have little or no conception of what is going on in the black community aside from the caricatures from television and movies.

The Church in America as a whole has done little to reconcile and heal the wounds of the past.  The modern Church instead of preaching the Gospel has instead chose to preach the world.  Just the fact that we have a black Church and a white Church should be alarming to anyone who professes to be a Christian.  Many whites have asked how could Barack Obama have remained a member of his church when the minister was making the statements he was making.  Those of you who are not prejudice how could you have remained in families where racial slurs and prejudice where present?  I have known countless whites who have confessed that they have parents, brothers, or sisters have often times used racial slurs and had racial biases.  Or that they have attended social events and parties where there were no minorities present and the racial jokes and the N-word were being cast around like lures at a bass fishing tournament.  My point is that there is enough blame to go around and if we all just look into our own lives honestly we will see it.

The question I have is this.  If you are attending a church and you look around and everyone in that church looks like you and acts like you, then why are you there?  I present this question to both black and white.  Newsflash – If you call yourself a Christian and everyone at your church looks just like you then you are in the wrong church.  How can we expect to worship the same God when we can’t even come together and worship him here and now.  It is no wonder so many people have such bad opinions of Christians.  We preach togetherness and one Church, one Lord, and one God, but where is that unity on Sunday?  We each run off to our safe little church communities and talk about all of these virtues and once the sermon is over we climb right back into our cars and go right back to our segregated worlds.  The problem is not this one preacher, no my friends the problem is the Church as a whole in America.  If we are ever to overcome the many obstacles that divide us we must begin with the One who unites us.

Martin Luther King Jr. said America’s most segregated major institution is the church.

“At 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand and sing and Christ has no east or west, we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation,” King said in 1963.  “This is tragic.  Nobody of honesty can overlook this.”

Only 7 percent of America’s churches are racially mixed.  On June 29, Biggers is planning a nationwide Mission Sunday.  He hopes to organize 1,000 churches across the United States to visit churches that “look different from one another.” News OK.com

How can this be?  We talk about love, honesty, and fairness yet we don’t have a clue how to worship God together.  The problem is hypocrisy in the Church.  Jesus had His harshest criticisms against hypocrites* because of their damaging effect on the Church.  Hypocrites destroy the Church from inside as well as outside.  They destroy it from the inside by undermining the faith of others.  How can I trust the preacher when he is running around with the deacon’s wife?  They destroy it from the outside by preventing those who want to join the Church from doing so.  Why should I join the Church when they are doing the exact same things that the world is doing?  I beseech anyone who claims to be a disciple of Christ to look back at what He did.  He went out into the world; he didn’t just stay in “His” community.  Can we not also do the same?  I would ask all true Christians and non-Christians alike to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to those who appear different from you.  You may be surprised how much they may be like you.

~ Matthew 23:13-36

False history gets made all day, any day,

the truth of the new is never on the news – Adrienne Rich