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.
Using some of his strongest language yet about his former pastor, Senator Barack Obama said that Jeremiah Wright’s comments capping the clergyman’s provocative return to the public stage were “destructive” and contradict “everything that I’m about and who I am.”
In a unanimous voice vote, the 90-member Executive Council of the United Church of Christ passed a resolution April 14 supporting Trinity UCC in Chicago and its recently retired senior minister Jeremiah Wright, whose videotaped, politically charged comments stirred sustained criticism of the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama, a longtime member of the congregation.
After weeks of public silence, Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. defended the black church and his preaching in a series of appearances, leading political analysts again to ponder Wright’s effect on the presidential campaign of Illinois senator Barack Obama.
When Senator Barack Obama faced the cameras in a nationally televised speech in mid-March, he was caught between his roles as politician and parishioner, forced to condemn his pastor’s words as he tried to advance his own campaign for president.
I wish Jeremiah Wright had made his point about America’s failings without saying “God damn America.” But not for a moment do I wish he had been less prophetic. The great biblical prophets did and said outrageous, controversial things, which consistently got them in trouble and occasionally landed them in jail.
If you were to visit Trinity United Church of Christ, a predominantly African-American congregation on the Chicago’s South Side, you would be warmly welcomed. You’d experience spirited singing that comes deep from the soul.
Richard Lischer, professor of preaching, Duke Divinity School: “It’s been 40 years since we have heard redemptive language in the political arena. Like Martin Luther King Jr., Obama did not flinch from addressing the lingering pain and anger of racism in America. Like King, Obama understands how questions of race are bound up with religion.
Two politically attuned professors in the South called the sharp rhetoric of Jeremiah Wright understandable in the context of an inner-city, largely black church, and both experts marveled at how political opponents seized upon the former pastor’s relationship to Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama.