Tuesday, April 29, 2008

what I wish he'd said

"Religion must always maintain a position from which to speak truth to power. Reverend Wright is speaking the truth as he sees it and as he sees fit; this is his call as a prophetic leader of a religious community in this country. It's his job. A prophet's words are often harsh, and condemning, sometimes hyperbolic, and always unwelcome. But that's his job. It's not my job. As a Senator and a candidate for the presidency, I am...power. And my job is to listen to those prophets, however unwelcome their words, to that truth that they see fit to deliver to those who hold political power. The mistake is in assuming that either I must echo these unwelcome words or refuse to hear them...the truth is that I, we, must stop and listen. This is a democracy where all voices must be heard."

Now why didn't someone write that down on a post-it and hand it to the man?


Justin Burton said...


Are we feeling a bit less comfortable yet that our candidate is willing to denounce his minister?

Or do we chalk it up to the kind of thing a person has to do when faced with double standards?

It's helpful to see Obama's imperfections, not so I can jump ship, but so that I can remember that he needs help to achieve his lofty ideas.

As regards Obama's imperfections, I think I'm leaning towards this idea, courtesy of Rev. Jackson:

'If, in my low moments, in word, deed or attitude, through some error of temper, taste, or tone, I have caused anyone discomfort, created pain, or revived someone's fears, that was not my truest self. If there were occasions when my grape turned into a raisin and my joy bell lost its resonance, please forgive me. Charge it to my head and not to my heart. My head -- so limited in its finitude; my heart, which is boundless in its love for the human family. I am not a perfect servant. I am a public servant doing my best against the odds. As I develop and serve, be patient: God is not finished with me yet.'

Justin Burton said...

Of course, the Rev. Jackson is a little confused about how to be properly posthuman, but I'll charge that to his imperfect agent, not his ideal agent.

jch said...

I want to defend Rev. Wright but I saw his interview for the press club and was not only turned off by what he said but was disgusted in how he carried himself. I defended Wright the first time around but after this past weekend, I came away thinking that Wright is pompous, rude and, well, silly. I hardly got an "Isaiah Vibe" as he high-fived his handlers after a point made. Not cool. I say, Run, Obama, Run!

Anonymous said...

I agree that this just goes to show that Obama is imperfect, just like anyone else. I saw Wright's interview on Bill Moyers and actually came away with a positive impression of him. I felt very sorry for him watching his Q&A with the press club. But having seen the Moyers interview and felt even inspired by some of what he said and coming away with a little more understanding of liberation theology, I was very disappointed in the subsequent messages he gave. But think of it this way: Wouldn't anyone have a tough time making the right choices in what to say if you lived with this mixed identity of loyalty to a country in which there are people who constantly tell you that to be who you are is bad or inferior? In adopting allegiance to such a country, wouldn't that feel like you are adopting that attitudem and in so doing, deying part of who you are? This is why, despite having been turned off by Wright's attitude during the Q&A, I think he should still be given the benefit of the doubt.


JTB said...

A link from JCH:


The article makes explicit the liberation theology context of Rev. Wright's preaching and theology...

For me, there are certainly some specific statements that I could not make myself (well, that's true of all, since I am a white chick) or endorse...but I still think Rev. Wright should be able to say these things. I do think we can legitimately question whether he clearly perceives his prophetic role and is executing it faithfully--but we also have to be careful, in doing that, to remember that we are in some sense the accused and first we must consider the charges he lays against us before rushing to judgment about the integrity of our accuser. I just mean, we have to take the words of the oppressed seriously...at a minimum, is this not what God of the Exodus would require of us?

As for my favorite political cyborg...I agree with justin & RM; I guess really what this whole thing does is knock the pedestal down a bit. And that's okay; I already have a case of daddy-worship to get over (love you Dad) so best not to contract another. He's human, and I don't have to like every decision or position in order to still just as firmly believe that he is the very best candidate this presidential race has got.

But doesn't it suck to live in such a fucked up world? That's mostly what I feel about it.

Anonymous said...

Love the post. I agree that he has the right to say what he said. And (I hate classifying it like this, but...) as someone who was a member at a "black" church, that is just how sermons are presented. I think our predominantly white society doesn't know or care to find out what services are like in a lot of black churches. But I bet most black church goers, having listened to the whole sermon, wouldn't have misinterpreted the words that were spoken like these white reporters and newscasters have.

And Jen you are right. No matter what direction you look, this is one messed up world we are living in.