18 March 2008

DBB on Obama's pastor and the Black American preaching tradition

Check out this powerful essay by Diana Butler Bass on the current media flap over Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Diana looks at Wright's words from the point of view of the long history of radical, prophetic African-American preaching, and concludes that they are offensive:

But the attack on Rev. Wright...demonstrates the level of misunderstanding that still divides white and black Christians in the United States. Many white people find the traditions of African-American preaching offensive, especially when it comes to politics.

I know because I am one of those white people.

And that's the point. Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable - and we comfortable white people might benefit from shutting up and listening. Not for the first time in the history of this nation. And for God's sake, can we give up on the implication that a church member must obviously agree with every word preached from the pulpit at his place of worship?

Yes, as Jan admits in the post I just linked, the company we keep matters. So now we know that Obama, a Black practicing Christian, keeps company with a Black preacher who is squarely in the grand tradition of no-punches-pulled African-American prophetic rhetoric in this country.

Shock horror.

HT for the DBB: EC


Scott Childress said...

i read DBB's post on God's Politics yesterday (and thought of linking to it on my own blog as well) ;)

As Christians, we need to be cautious in our endorsement of a future Caesar and try not to get excited...

i'm trying not to get excited. trying.

Jayce from Rochester said...

I tend to worry more about the people who believe that Obama believed every word.

I don't know what parts he believed and what parts he didn't -- only that his speeches tend to indicate that he didn't believe a lot of the angry things. The people who think he followed every word probably know nothing else -- what the preacher tells you is the truth. Period.

I find that to be a very sad life indeed: to have ones thoughts dictated by another. And there seem to be a lot of them -- or perhaps there's just a few who are very noisy.