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Born May 18, 1953; got saved at Truett Memorial BC in Hayesville, NC 1959. On rigged ballot which I did not rig got Most Intellectual class of 71, Gaffney High School. Furman Grad, Sociology major but it was little tougher than Auburn football players had Had three dates with beautiful women the summer of 1978. Did not marry any of em. Never married anybody cause what was available was undesirable and what was desirable was unaffordable. Unlucky in love as they say and even still it is sometimes heartbreaking. Had a Pakistani Jr. Davis Cupper on the Ropes the summer of 84, City Courts, Rome Georgia I've a baby sitter, watched peoples homes while they were away on Vacation. Freelance writer, local consultant, screenwriter, and the best damn substitute teacher of Floyd County Georgia in mid 80's according to an anonymous kid passed me on main street a few years later when I went back to get a sandwich at Schroeders. Had some good moments in Collinsville as well. Ask Casey Mattox at if he will be honest about it. I try my best to make it to Bridges BBQ in Shelby NC at least four times a year.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Obama, his pastor and their Detractors

Here is a guest blog on the matter; not my words by those of an acquaintance that have considerable merit.

Imagine this:

One week before the Pennsylvania primary, Barack Obama takes the stage at Temple University in Philadelphia, the most diverse university in the nation as ranked by the Princeton Review. In the audience, sits native Philadelphian Reverend Jeremiah Wright. And everybody's waiting to see what goes down here.

The crowd, like all Obama crowds, is as diverse as America. But it's a crowd with new expectations of the senator. It's a crowd with its enthusiasm tempered by concern. There's something strange in the air for an Obama crowd: doubt.

Obama begins with an acknowledgment of the necessity of this speech. It is not unreasonable for people to have questions. Pastor Wright has had an influence on Obama, and Wright is a provocative figure.

And how necessary, he reminds us, is provocation. How needful are we of prodding. How little progress is made in silence. How challenging it is to defend your own views against someone shouting from a stage. And how necessary it is, too.

And with all of Wright's faults, what are the points the Reverend's groping at? What is there to learn from? Do any of us really believe that our nation is so perfect as to be above criticism? Do we not have a history of intolerance and prejudice? What about the man who may be the greatest American thinker, Thomas Jefferson, who said:

"I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind."

No one would suggest that the entirety of Jefferson's thought should be discounted because of his disgusting views on race.

Or John Adams, in a letter to Mordecai Manuel Noah, speaking of the need for the 'flawed' and 'peculiar' Jews to be converted to Christianity:

"I believe [that] . . . once restored to an independent government & no longer persecuted they [the Jews] would soon wear away some of the asperities and peculiarities of their character & possibly in time become liberal Unitarian christians for your Jehovah is our Jehovah & your God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob is our God."

There's no use in denying that these types of sentiments have, since our nation's birth, been part of the national conversation. They are wrong, obviously, but they are real.

And this is part of the reason behind the rise of the black church. The black church has long been a counterforce against the ingrained and institutionalized prejudice that has persisted so stubbornly in our culture. And this is part of what moved Obama into the pews of Trinity United in the first place. There is so much good being done there, just as there is so much good being done all over this flawed and imperfect nation.

And then Obama looks to his old pastor in the audience. And Obama reads from Wright's remarks on Louis Farrakhan:

"His integrity and honesty have secured him a place in history as one of the nation's most powerful critics."

And Obama, to Reverend Wright, "Dr. Wright, I'm afraid I must respectfully disagree. While it is true that Minister Farrakhan is one of the nation's most powerful critics, his legacy is not one of honesty and integrity, but of division and obfuscation. His is a legacy that we as a nation have to move beyond."

And Obama concludes with an expression of gratitude to the thinkers who have challenged him through the years, from Jefferson and Adams through Wright. He's thankful to have had the opportunity to wrestle with the misguided opinions of even great men in a nation where the freedom of the marketplace of ideas ensures that some ideas will be cut-rate. Hell, Obama taught at the University of Chicago, Antonin Scalia's old haunt. He's never been concerned with surrounding himself exclusively with like minds. That's the challenge of America. Here, in a country that is first and foremost an idea, a man also is his ideas. And ideas can be instruments that grow far too blunt if not routinely honed against the provocations of people worth listening to, even when those people are wrong.

America, and Americans, shouldn't be judged by the most misguided pronouncements of Founders who otherwise gave us a great start as a nation, and Obama shouldn't be judged by the most misguided statements of a pastor who otherwise started him in a faith community that has sustained and nurtured him, and informed his love of his country.


Blogger foxofbama said...

One of the greatest sermons I have ever read is by a White Woman, Episcopalian at that, Fleming Rutledge.
It's Title:
God Damned Christians

Has references to Laurel Mississippi and the prototype for the Klan mastermind in Mississippi Burning, Sam Bowers.
Rich reference there to Marshall Frady's hero Will Campbell.
Before you get all sanctified and sanctimonious in an unread dismissal of the sermon; find it and read it.
It shames Richard Land and WA Criswell.

PS: Michelle Norris on MTPress the Donna Brazille on ABC This week both had words for all of us this morning; America's Palm Sunday, let's don't forget.

12:35 PM  
Blogger foxofbama said...

One of the conversations I hope this matter provokes is one between UVA and Laurel, Ms's Charles Marsh; and Charles Pickering of the SBC Peace Committee.
That should help Rove Baptists in particular begin to take a look at themselves, before casting aspersions on Jeremiah Wright.

12:37 PM  
Blogger jr said...

Good post. I see the point the author is making, but I think the line of argument of comparing Wright's comments to those of Adams and Jefferson are anachronistic at best. If Adams or Jefferson were to make such statements in today's politically correctness driven political milieu, they would be as ostracized as Eliot Spitzer stands to be because of his indiscretions. In today's world, the statements that Adams and Jefferson made would be political suicide.

A second problem also reflects the different world in which we now live. If a pastor of another ethnic group made equally ethnocentric statements, they would be castigated by mainstream media to no end...after only one instance, not a repeated consistent position articulated over several years (or decades).

I don't really have a problem with what Wright said. It's a free country and he's as free to say the things that he said as fundamentalist pastors are to say some of the vitriolic things they say toward homosexuals. I think both are equally reprehensible.

As for Obama, to some extent, I feel that he brought a great deal of this scrutiny on himself by making his faith a critical issue (most likely, I think, to offset the potential political liability of his middle name...which, by the way, I wouldn't care one way or the other if his middle name were Abaddon or Satan).

McCain will have a similar issue with fundamentalist endorsements like Hagee and Parsley as has been documented, but they weren't McCain's pastor of twenty years. On a similar note, I don't think Obama should be held responsible for people like Farrakhan endorsing him other than stating his distance from and disdain for Farrakhan's controversial positions.

7:09 PM  
Blogger jr said...

Great article by Evans. I think Land probably says a lot out of ignorance. Or maybe he just doesn't think before he speaks. Either way, I think Evans is right on assessing his apology.

7:11 PM  
Blogger foxofbama said...

You should check the discussion I started at
Text of Obama's current pastor Otis Moss of late this afternoon is posted there.
Easy to register there. AT same time I appreciate your entries here.
Obama is in Fayetteville, NC near you on Weds.
I hope you and several of the faculty and at Campbell Div will attend.

7:32 PM  
Blogger foxofbama said...

Otis MOss from March 16 NY times:

From the NY Times:

While Senator Obama has distanced himself from the incendiary remarks by his former pastor, including comments about how the United States brought on the Sept. 11 attacks by its own actions abroad, the Chicago church’s current pastor, the Rev. Otis Moss III, issued this statement on Palm Sunday.
Nearly three weeks before the 40th commemorative anniversary of the murder of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.’s character is being assassinated in the public sphere because he has preached a social gospel on behalf of oppressed women, children and men in America and around the globe.
Dr. Wright has preached 207,792 minutes on Sunday for the past 36 years at Trinity United Church of Christ. This does not include weekday worship services, revivals and preaching engagements across America and around the globe, to ecumenical and interfaith communities. It is an indictment on Dr. Wright’s ministerial legacy to present his global ministry within a 15- or 30-second sound bite,” said the Reverend Otis Moss III, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ.
During the 36-year pastorate of Dr. Wright, Trinity United Church of Christ has grown from 87 to 8,000 members. It is the largest congregation in the United Church of Christ denomination.
“It saddens me to see news stories reporting such a caricature of a congregation that has been such a blessing to the UCC’s Wider Church mission,” said the Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC general minister and president, in a released statement. “ … It’s time for us to say ‘No’ to these attacks and declare that we will not allow anyone to undermine or destroy the ministries of any of our congregations in order to serve their own narrow political or ideological ends.”
Trinity United Church of Christ’s ministry is inclusive and global. The following ministries have been developed under Dr. Wright’s ministerial tutelage for social justice: assisted living facilities for senior citizens, day care for children, pastoral care and counseling, health care, ministries for persons living with HIV/AIDS, hospice training, prison ministry, scholarships for thousands of students to attend historically black colleges, youth ministries, tutorial and computer programs, a church library, domestic violence programs and scholarships and fellowships for women and men attending seminary.
Moss added, “The African American Church was born out of the crucible of slavery and the legacy of prophetic African American preachers since slavery has been and continues to heal broken marginalized victims of social and economic injustices. This is an attack on the legacy of the African American Church which led and continues to lead the fight for human rights in America and around the world.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached the Christian tenet, “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Before Dr. King was murdered on April 4, 1968, he preached, “The 11 o’clock hour is the most segregated hour in America.” Forty years later, the African American Church community continues to face bomb threats, death threats, and their ministers’ characters are assassinated because they teach and preach prophetic social concerns for social justice. Sunday is still the most segregated hour in America.
We talked with Angela Faison, a spokeswoman for the church, just moments ago, who verified the statement from the Reverend Moss. We asked her if Senator Obama or his campaign cleared the statement, and she asked: “Why would we do that? We are two separate entities.”

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope to put the link up soon, but in meantime, serious students of this discussion will google up Cass Sunstein's The Obama I Know from recent Chicago Tribune; an excellent piece.

7:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Before you get all sanctified and sanctimonious in an unread dismissal of the sermon; find it and read it.
It shames Richard Land and WA Criswell."

The PRIMARY Reason that you are so enamored with this piece that you posted is that it (your words)shames Richard Land and WA Criswell-Why do you say that?Why do you have such a problem with those two men?If I didn't know better -I would think that you are envious of them and all of the things that they have both accomplished-

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Obama I know
by Stephen Fox on Mon Mar 17, 2008 10:36 am

I don't know Obama but I have met his friend Artur Davis, who with Stephen Black and Jim Evans and Rabbi Miller are Bright Lights and Hope for Alabama.

Cass Sunstein is a friend of Obama from the U Chicago Law School.

So who are some of the so called Christians on this board gonna listen to, the reason of Cass Sunstein or the demagoguery of Rich Lowry, Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and Gingrich right wing friends in the SBC.

Testify to this, all you naysayers:

Why do you continue to name drop?We in the blog world would love to know why you persist in doing this-

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who are you, anonymous one, and why do you persist in irritating this blog

9:13 AM  
Blogger John Killian said...

I must be honest--through the years, I have made some stupid statements in the pulpit and am glad for folks who loved me through those times.
Jeremiah Wright's sermon was bad, but Obama's attitude that he still loved his pastor was an expression that warmed my heart.

8:30 PM  
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4:11 AM  

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