Prophets do not always have a balanced view of reality. They are not people who have made a pragmatic adjustment to the status quo. Rather, prophets are people seized by a vision of God’s justice. They speak poetically and act dramatically, trying to move people to face truths that they’d rather not face. They make hyperbolic complaints, like Isaiah’s “No one brings suit justly, no one goes to law honestly.” They do outrageous things, like walk around barefoot as a sign of a coming catastrophe.
Understanding a prophet’s style partially explains some of Jeremiah Wright’s performance at the National Press Club on April 28. But understanding does not necessarily mean endorsing. Not every moment is a time for prophecy and not every act intended to be prophetic is wise.