Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tough Questions On Obama's Abandonment of Rev Wright

"I've known Reverend Wright for almost twenty years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person I met twenty years ago."

- Barack Obama, repudiating Pastor Jeremiah Wright

Why do I have such a hard time believing the statement above?

Could it be because of the public and written praise and respect that Obama has given Reverend Wright all along?

Yes, I think so.

Is this an indication that Obama's just another politician who'll do anything to get elected or is it an indication that he's been a poor judge of character?

Neither question has an attractive answer, I'm afraid.


What does such admitted poor judgment about Reverend Wright's character say about Obama's ability to judge character?

Might he choose a Vice President or Cabinet member who suddenly becomes the Tasmanian Devil and use the same excuse....that the ol' Devil wasn't the same guy (or gal) he knew a few years back? What if he talks directly to Ahmadinejad in the direct talks he says he'll have with the Iranian leader and at first thinks he's an alright guy.....until he turns out to be something else altogether?


Why I am so sad hearing Obama abandoning his efforts to defend someone who led him to the goodness of God and who taught him how to hold out the very hope for which Obama titled one of his own best-selling books and politically inspired so many voters? (Books, incidentally, that propped him up politically and raked in almost a million dollars for him).


I was hoping Obama would've have found a way to defend his black church as it exists - the church that he's been a part of for so long - but instead I heard Obama say that Reverend Wright did not represent his black church .. as if Wright has suddenly turned into an extremist freak within the church! We know better. I have a feeling that Obama knows Reverend Wright is far more intelligent and consistent than Obama's giving him credit for.

Something tells me that Obama will lose support..and respect.. from his church and from the intellectual black community over this. [Here's one example already...and comments from other black pastors] They'll likely wonder why he abandoned their truth on his way to Washington, D.C. (and by truth I surely don't mean the AIDS or Farrakhan comments, which were easy targets for repudiation).

It's hard to speak truth to power when the power means more than the truth.

I hate politics.

It's the media's fault for creating the usual distortions and distractions which they've fostered by focusing 180 degrees away from the discussions we all so badly need in this coutry today!!


A once-beloved pastor will be hung out to dry - painted as just some crazy angry old man.

Jesus, I hate politics. I hate the state of the U.S. mainstream media.


At what price has Obama abandoned his pastor?

The road ahead might seem a lot more lonely for him .. and what will he have gained?

I think these are fair questions.

Politically, this is a no-win situation. I guess Obama, if he didn't want Superdelegates to run away in fear, had to do this.

Morally, I see the situation as something else altogether. It's so sad.

I hate politics.


This is probably going to add up to a loss for African-American progress and the public's perception of the black church if you ask me. Fox News viewers may be relieved to see that Obama's let loose the big bad black bombastic America-hater, but people with intellectual and theological sense about all of this may see it quite differently. Former President Jimmy Carter said he would not have left Wright's church after hearing his remarks and believed that Reverend Wright wouldn't have permanently damaged Obama. Obviously, Obama felt differently. He ran scared.


One more thought. It seemed fairly easy for Obama to cast his twenty-year spiritual relationship with Reverend Wright away. It causes me to ask:

At what point would Obama throw real progresives under the bus?

He may have saved face in the political world today, but if his soul's intact, I wonder how easy it'll be for him to sleep tonight. When it's all said and done, Obama currently looks to me like a disillusioned young man whose spiritual underpinnings have taken a crucial hit.


Faithful Progressive said...

Rev. Wright has many faces and he has been showing the least attractive in recent weeks--Obama did not abandon him, it was the other way around. Wright has had a high reputation and has spoken at many Theology schools. No one knew he held these odd views.

I believe that you are sincere but i think this is a very cheap shot. As cheap as those who say, Rev. Wright was called in to counsel Bill Clinton and then asked to speak by a Hillary supporter, blah blah, blah.

Get real--why are liberal blogs parroting this BS? Wright has some extreme views that NO FAir minded person thinks Obama shares--just as Hagee does, and no one thinks McCain really believes that the Catholic church is the whore of Babylon.


Jude Nagurney Camwell said...

faithful progressive,

I believe this is a difficult time for all Democratic commentators who are having to distill the raw imformation coming fast and furious across America's television screens.

Being a political blogger for over five years, I realize that I could say something about all of this or I could say nothing whatsoever. It wasn't the political bloggers who decided to slather this controversy all over the media, yet here it is just the same. I realize that emotions are high at this time with two Democrats vying for the nomination (neither of whom I've personally endorsed, having been an Edwards Democrat all along). Almost anything we say from a personal standpoint of sincerity lately is open to a more harsh judgment, but that's no reason for any of us to be silent about questions that arise. I have to say that it's terribly difficult for me to believe that no one knew Reverend Wright was a man with a strong focus on God over government. I've known about his views for over a year now.

Reverend Wright is the kind of pastor who sees the way religion has become enmeshed with government ..becoming almost one and the same ... with disastrous results like the right-heavy Supreme Court and unjust wars. He speaks a different language and has carried out his own spiritual mission in his community church, which is not the mission of Caesar. Obama is vying to hold a position of great secular power, speaking the language of a citizen of a democracy reaching out to fellow citizens of every color and creed. The thing I think you may have perceived as a cheap shot was likely my questions about Obama's judgment. If I'd failed to ask the questions, I would've been untrue to my own conscience. I'm sorry. I can't do that.

Rev. Wright seems to be lashing out at a media that deserves every bit of his contempt. Look at what they've done to distract citizens from the real issues and attack his church in the process.

As far as Obama is concerned, he used the story of his faith-transformation on the South Side of Chicago to convince Progressives that religion was important and relevant to politics:

"....something was missing – that without a vessel for my beliefs, without a commitment to a particular community of faith, at some level I would always remain apart and alone.

If not for the particular attributes of the historically black church, I may have accepted this fate. But as the months passed in Chicago, I found myself drawn to the church.

For one thing, I believed and still believe in the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change, a power made real by some of the leaders here today. Because of its past, the black church understands in an intimate way the Biblical call to feed the hungry and cloth the naked and challenge powers and principalities. And in its historical struggles for freedom and the rights of man, I was able to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death; it is an active, palpable agent in the world. It is a source of hope.

And perhaps it was out of this intimate knowledge of hardship, the grounding of faith in struggle, that the church offered me a second insight: that faith doesn’t mean that you don’t have doubts. You need to come to church precisely because you are of this world, not apart from it; you need to embrace Christ precisely because you have sins to wash away – because you are human and need an ally in your difficult journey.

It was because of these newfound understandings that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and affirm my Christian faith. It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany; the questions I had did not magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt I heard God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth...."

Reverend Wright represented the black church and the face of God to that south side Chicago congregation and to a young Obama. This narrative, toldbyObama himself, with the emblem of inviting spirit that the pastor brought along to that congregation and to Obama, is something that Obama is going to have trouble separating himself from.

In my eyes, I don't see either man diminshed by saying what's in their hearts, but I do come away with the sense that Obama is now grounded squarely in the politician's world and his words above to the progressives have less shine and earnesty to them. Blame Jeremiah Wright? No. I think I'll pass on that one. After all, I believe in my own Christian heart that Jeremiah is one of the people Obama was likely thinking of when he said,

"....I am not suggesting that every progressive suddenly latch on to religious terminology. Nothing is more transparent than inauthentic expressions of faith – the politician who shows up at a black church around election time and claps – off rhythm – to the gospel choir...

**[...and I heard Rev Wright joking along these lines at the NAACP dinnner...]**

"...But what I am suggesting is this – secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King – indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history – were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause..."

I'd like (and would trust and would think I actually know) Obama better as a candidate if he wasn't trying to be everything to every person. It's causing the person who Obama might be to disappear and morph into a business-as-usual politician.

He's a smart fellow, though, and if he received the nomination there'd be no contest between my choice of him over McCain.

Jude Nagurney Camwell said...

I would amend one thing I'd written. It DIDN'T look easy for Obama to reconsider his relationship with his pastor for all the nation (and world) to see. Matter of fact, he looked like he wished he didn't have to do it. It would've been like me, if I were running for office) denouncing Archbishop Oscar Romero (had he been my parish priest) for having chosen his poor people over imperialism.

Obama did what he had to do, but I could see the light go out in his eyes. In the end, I blame our still-culturally-divided society.

"We do not know very much of the future
Except that from generation to generation
The same things happen again and again.
Men learn little from others’ experience....

- T.S. Eliot

Jude Nagurney Camwell said...

A Catholic leader in Chicago defends Rev Wright:


The attitude and line of questioning by the interviewer from Fox is a direct contribution to why we are still a divided society.