Sadly, over the last few days, it has appeared that Jeremiah Wright has done something I would have never expected. He appears to have thrown Barack Obama under the bus. I write this as a person who has defended him. I write this as a person who appreciated the interview with Bill Moyers and was angry with him being taken out of context. I feel that I have extended a great deal of good will towards Jeremiah Wright and that he deserved it for his many years of faithful service, etc.
His attitudes and words over the last few days have, sadly, made me great angry.
Wright is rhetorical expert, well trained in language and speech patterns. He is educated in it and can pretty much do any accent across the nation and do them well. Using this to mock John Kennedy, however, was, frankly, tasteless. His point was not all bad, but his way of making his point was, well, as I said, tasteless.
I also feel that his belief that all the attacks on him are attacks on the "Black Church" is not fair or remotely accurate.
Within the United Church of Christ we live with certain realities. Sometimes people will speak of a typical UCC congregation. Most people who have lived within the denomination can pretty much tell you that there is no such thing as a typical UCC congregation. I have heard the expression that a particular church was the most UCC that people knew of. That is, pretty much by design, an oxymoron. What makes the United Church of Christ particularly unique is that we are all particularly unique. Most people who make broad generalizations about the denomination or even congregations are people who don't know much about it or need to remove their shoes and socks in order to count to 11.
This, I know, seems like a digression, but I'm doing it to make a point. To make a claim that an attack against him is an attack against "Black Churches" is saying likewise. I don't believe that there are typical African American churches any more than there are typical African Americans. People and congregations are unique and that is an amazing and wonderful thing. I can't imagine any one saying that they are representative of the whole.
Barack Obama, to his credit, has not embraced much of what Jeremiah Wright is saying. In his book, "An Audacity of Hope," Obama exudes great generosity towards all people and is very sensitive to avoiding stereotypes. He is, however, being lumped together with his former pastor with some issues that I cannot imagine he wants to be lumped together with.
I can't imagine what is going on. Is Wright mad that Obama didn't jump up and down with support and express his love enough? Is Wright angry that a member of his church is now very famous? I truly do not know the answer.
I have always admired Jeremiah Wright a great deal. I have met him and I enjoyed hearing him preach on several occasions. When he was interviewed by Bill Moyers, the man I admired was sitting at the table with Moyers and I felt that many people saw a portrait of a man I had admired.
Sadly, what I've witness over the last few days had greatly began to change my opinion. Even worse, I think that we are witnessing the destruction of a long relationship of a pastor with a church member who so admired him that he named a book after a sermon title.
Not much to celebrate with all of this, to be sure.