Sunday, April 27, 2008

Jeremiah Wright Speaks



It took a while, but Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the retiring pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ has begun speaking. The first instance was Friday's Bill Moyer's interview. I've only seen parts of it, but as I understand it he gave context and background to his statements. He made it clear that he speaks from within and to the church, and not as a politician. He explained his roots in the Black Theology of James Cone.

In this interview -- which I'm watching/listening to as I blog -- he explains with it means to be "Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian." He explains his theology and its roots as being an indigenous theology -- it is one that those who understand contemporary missions theory should understand.

They come to church to be prepared to transform the world the live in -- not to escape the world but to be encouraged as one lives in the world. Good stuff!

Then last night he addressed 10,000 people at the Detroit NAACP Dinner. According to the report in the Detroit paper, he was greeted with a standing ovation -- and "thundering applause." That response should serve as an important reminder that Jeremiah Wright is not a marginal figure, but very much in the center of the African American community. Attempts to marginalize him, essentially marginalize great numbers of African Americans in this country. He speaks for those who see themselves as voiceless. But as he makes clear in his speech to the NAACP, he's not running for political office. He simply is attempting to speak prophetically. And as Jesus pointed out, we have a tendency to reject the words of our prophets. From the report in the paper, he contrasted white and black marching bands -- as to their style -- and then pointed to the differences between black and white churches. He pointed out that they are simply different. One is not normal and the other abnormal. I think that is an important point to make. We have a tendency to use our own experience as the starting point to determine normalcy. What is different must then be abnormal. The truth is that there is more than one style of normal!

Another thing to point out -- Michigan's Democratic Governor, Jennifer Granholm also addressed the gathering. She didn't stay away because of his presence. I think that should say something!

2 comments:

Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

It's too bad that Granholm was born in Cabada. That disqualifies her as potential Obama running mate.

rebecca said...

I didn't see it but I'd expect Moyers to be a sympathetic interviewer. But I think the real test for Wright will be the Press Club breakfast, which is happening as I write this. There is a huge gap between the secular press and the religious when it comes to 'getting' Wright. Even the 'liberal' press (the ones who proudly claim that label). For instance, I was surprised at Joan Walsh's reaction ("Why Jeremiah Wright is so wrong") to his Moyers appearance in her post on Salon.com today.