Jeremiah Wright: Warrior and Trickster

Jeremiah Wright: Warrior and Trickster


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Wright . . . should know how to tell the truth without placing an Uzi in the hands of his opponents. Jackson and Sharpton are seemingly smarter than Wright.  Let’s hope they keep it up.



Jeremiah Wright: Warrior and Trickster

A ChickenBones Editorial and Discussion


Breaking the Silence to Jeremiah’s War

After the tornado had passed through and gone out to sea, I stayed up last night to 3 or 4 in the morning listening to YouTube video clips of the National Press Club performance of the retired minister of Trinity Church of Chicago, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who stormed in the nation’s Capitol before both a praising and hostile press audience. Before I sat down to listen to Wright, I had read some negative press copy online and heard some on CNN. They think Wright is “smug” and “bombastic.” He indeed was war-like, a soldier of his Lord.

The primary window through which many see his “speaking out” is the impact his words might have on the campaign of Barack Obama. That too was how initially I viewed Wright’s mocking and abrasive response to Bill Moyers and the National Press Club. For my impulse for the last few months has been on Obama setting a national precedent by winning the nomination and going on to become President of the United States. So I have judged Wright through those eyes. I have, in short, wanted to marginalize Wright and his church in this larger and extremely important political process. Until now he had not publicly made any response to his demonization.

It is not so much that I have viewed him as an “angry Black man,” the perspective of a minority of whites who support Hillary and the corporate media (CNN, MSNBC, FOX, PBS), whose view is that any sane and patriotic American would have abandoned Trinity years ago. But in the last few months we have come to know Hillary and the cable news programs, known to some as Walking Eagle, as those who will say almost anything in order to win or assure a vote for Hillary’s candidacy or to make profit.

After seeing Boston lose and LA win, and in that I didn’t have to listen to the clock in my sleep in order to face hundreds of sassy kids at Sussex Central, I turned to the Wright clips of his presentation and his question & answer sessions at the National Press Club. I went to the clips looking for reasons to nail him. But I listened to the clips over and over. I got into Wright’s world and his justification, and his audience response. His abrasive and mocking words and attitudes began to make sense. Clearly, the Press Club shocked by Wright had expected him to try to smooth matters over for the sake of Obama’s candidacy and his run for the presidency.

Wright did not give them (the hostile whites) that satisfaction. He stuck to his church’s motto, “Unapologetic Black, Unashamedly Christian.” An ex-Marine, he came forward with his rhetorical guns blazing. His barrels were white hot at the end of the sessions. He gave the white press no slack, no quarter. He was stunningly intellectual and articulate from a theological and pastoral view of the “Black Church.” He dealt with no questions beyond this religious realm. He rejected any questions about the ongoing political campaigns.

For him Obama does what he has to do as a politician to be elected, he does what he has to do as pastor and religious leader. Wright contends he does not have to monitor his likes and dislikes for the sake of “electability.” For instance, he refused to disown Farrakhan, concluding that Farrakhan was not his enemy, though he pointed out he did not agree with everything Farrakhan had to say. But he asserted firmly he himself was not anti-Semitic. Wright further emphasized that his emphasis was on reconciliation and transformation, which was an anathema to American governments who have yet to offer apologies for racial slavery and Jim Crow. He refused to make any comment on Bill Clinton and his racism. He refused to back off on his statements that the US government introduced AIDS into black communities.

Wright sees his responsibility and allegiance to the god he serves and his mission. He stayed on script throughout, which placed the Press Club at a disadvantage. For they know very little about the man, his church, the bible or his theology, the prophetic liberation theology of the Black Church, which goes beyond the black theology of James Cone and which seems to be Wright’s own creation melded from his own biblical and theological studies (based on Isaiah 61 and Luke 4) and his own practices at Trinity.

Wright, however, has no intent in reconciling himself to the corporate media which he views as a brood of vipers. Clearly, for him, no matter what he says, or has said, they would go after him with sticks and stones demonizing him. If he is to be crucified, it will be on his own terms. So he mocked and castigated them, beating them with a knowledge which they have no adequate response. For him they were vilifying asps in sacred places. So he laid the cutting stripes on heavy, leaving their backs bloody and sore. How ironic! How Christian!

The media he claimed were playing the dozens in sacred matters to which they were woefully ignorant. In their war on him and incidentally Obama they attacked the religion of his mother, his grandparents, his church; their viperfish war, slithering between and below the truth, had gone beyond the personal, to principal matters he most cherished. So he had come across the floor to do battle as the prophets of old, in order to teach a Christian nation of a Christ they had denied by their terror and imperial war-making. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible contended, Wright pointed out, with imperial powers: from Babylon, to Persia, to Syria, to Greece, to Egypt to Rome.

The scales fell from my eyes. I agree with Wright, he was obliged to defend his religious perspective. What God intends for Obama will be Obama’s, despite what the media pundits, white racists, or other hostile forces might say or do. That is, if God intends the nomination and the presidency for Obama, they will be his. Though I am not a fan or follower of Jeremiah Wright and his prophetic theology, I agree with him every pot has to sit on its own bottom. Wright owes Obama nothing from the province from which he speaks. Thus I have come now to admire and appreciate the man and his religious stance.

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A Discussion

I stayed up late, too. Last I heard was that Obama was going to HAVE to cut the reverend loose, which apparently he has done. Brother  Obama was the “darling” as long as he wasn’t too black. First they had to push Michelle off the stage. Now, Reverend Jeremiah Wright could very well have delivered his message in more European-scholarly tones. Lots of “er-ah’s” and such. Instead he danced, he sang, he “got down” in the very blackness of blackness (“playing the dozens”) that so embarrasses the Black middle class. They are so MAD at him for being so black AT A TIME LIKE THIS when “we” were just about to be accepted (as long as we are not too black). The reverend pulled the covers off that scene.—Joyce

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I agree with you. We have been so enamored with the Obama presidency that we have given him several passes: Catering to whites, ignoring the Tavis summit, disavowing Rev. Wright, not going to Memphis.  I have to admit america is not ready and neither is Obama.—Dorothy

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Well said Rudy. Wright is not our enemy. I have only seen Wright on the Bill Moyers show and like what he had to say during that interview. I  heard what he said during question and answer period at the National Press; after being invited by an HRC supporter to speak.  Even though much of what he is saying appears to have  elements of truth in it and  many of us have said the same  behind closed doors;  this really is not the time for him to be coming out making these statements.

This is crazy making at its best. He is piggy backing and using his connection to Obama to get on the world stage. The uncle who gets too drunk at his nephew’s  wedding and discloses  family secrets. The mother in law who tries to upstage the new daughter in law at the wedding by her revealing attire are all petty examples of what we human beings do. I was at a funeral a week ago and we had our own upstager who marched up to the pulpit as the last speaker. Everyone was asking “Who is she?” She did and said what she said which most of us soon forgot as everyone else was dignified and that is what we will remember.

Wright needs to STEP back. He may be right on but it is the wrong time. Obama needs our support and he has had ENOUGH cogs in the wheels, enough harassment. How many times must we stand back and watch them crucify those who are trying to unite us? How many in the name of Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King? How many is enough?—Claire

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But Rudy . . . this SIMPLY IS NOT Wright’s singular agenda…this is politics and Wright, has already admitted or said . . . he is not a politician . . . if I’m recalling correctly (smiles),  SOO . . .WHY, PLEASE TELL ME, IS WRIGHT IN THE POLITICAL RING THROWING EMPTY JABS.   This is our future . . . this election is critical, and Wright seemingly doesn’t realize the dynamics at play here, but at the same time he’s making all sorts of erratic and defensive moves.  Someone please tell this man . . .”Check Mate” has already been called, and folks especially Republicans are now celebrating . . . thanks to him. 

For being such an intelligent man, I cannot believe that Wright doesn’t recognize that he’s being used as a pawn . . . that psychologically, and in all probability the Republican  Political Analysts out there, all knew exactly how to shove Obama aside when it appeared he was getting too close to being our next President . . . they knew just who to target . . . who would react/respond in the manner Wright is now displaying. 

In all probability those that do know how to play the political gain . . . not game, predicted that Wright would react and will be reacting precisely as he is now.  Can’t you picture it?  Fact is, Rev. Wright is TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS . . . FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.   

There are many here in America, especially the McClain clan who can now simply lay back in their easy chairs with cocktails in hand . . . and watch the predicted destruction unfold . . . Sound familiar??

How many times must this game be successfully charged and run on African Americans / People of Color.

Why can’t Wright wait to stand on his platform, or even write a best selling book in due time . . . after, after . . . God’s flock has been fed with the changes that are so critically needed in our country with the election of Obama.  Is not the welfare of this country more relevant, and more important than this man’s egoism and his righteous need to defend?  Humbleness, patience and faith are what I expect from a “man of God . . . a man of the cloth” especially during this time of crisis.  Even insightfulness, intuitiveness are all key components of a person who has truly been anointed with and by the SPIRIT.  But, certainly, not reactionary responses. I keep getting this image of “God” look’n down from the heavens and shaking his head in dismay . . .uttering the words . . .”Well, I tried”.

Yes, Wright is justified.  Yes, he is a patriotic good man.   Yes, he’s entitled, and the Black Church and Christianity are all profound reasons to speak out. But, does this not pale to the survival of our country?   So, tell me,  why is Wright not MAN/GODLY enough to realize. . . .THIS BARRAGE OF GIBBERISH from the media supposedly about him . . . is not about him at all . . . but is about assuring McCain’s now forthcoming election.  At this point . . . and maybe I’m being overly pessimistic . . . but I liken him to Judas.—Bev Jenai

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rudy, this rocks.  rock on.—Peggy

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Your optimism re Obama forced me to support you now, as a way of rising through my pessimism about him. There’s something about the way he packages himself and his campaign as a crusader on a crusade, hunting for the grail whose hidden existence he has knowledge, and himself as servant to this grail. Also, did he himself decide on his own or did someone god whisper to him that a black man’s best chance to be president is to pretend not to want it? I am also troubled by his denouncement of Rev Wright. At this point, that tactic is chickenshit. All of the media stations edited Wright’s recent interviews to make his gestures seem clownish, as if he were mugging for the cameras, and they edited the moments even more deceptively and recast them as split screens to make his church-filled sermons out to be a minstrel show or a Black rally gone awry and wild. In some sense, the chickens have come to roost on us, because we have delighted over and over in projecting Dubya as an idiot clown.  So I support and salute your commonsense, even though you have moved closer toward voting.

Surely, Obama took the time to watch the tv interviews (Chris Wallace; Bill Moyers); so why did he have to embrace the result of the racist gaze of the media? Why could he not have deconstructed those ploys instead of denouncing Wright? There is something about Obama that makes him very non-Black American, not like any African-descent African American born and raised here on this soil. He is outraged by his “former” war-decorated pastor. I am outraged by his Gee Whiz Negro persona. I never thought I’d be where you were about two years and a half go, but I may very well sit this election out.— Mackie

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I’m in agreement with your piece.  Funny, though I don’t practice a religion, Ii can’t help but agree with Reverend Wright.  The corporate media (and you’ll be getting that cartoon) is not about the journalism that I was taught back in the early sixties where we were supposed to report, not create, the news.

Folk forgot that the Detroit speech was arranged and locked in months before the YouTube smear began. I expressed doubt that all of the proper information was not expressed and it came out that he was quoting Ambassador Peck and the bible…interesting that they still want to forget that.

Some folk want to have us think that he insinuated himself on the National Press Club yesterday.  He was INVITED and I didn’t find anything wrong with what he said. Then I stopped at the house this afternoon (Tuesday) and saw that the Politician named Obama was on television kicking this man to the curb, under the bus, onto the tracks before a fast rolling freight train and denouncing him to appease – who? 

I was, am, disappointed. He made me find goodness in Ralph Nader and Ron Paul.  He made me understand why I could not be a politician…I’m ethical and that includes drawing a line in the sand and standing by my beliefs, not being coerced into backing down or leaving my friends behind.

A friend had asked the question (you’ll get this cartoon also), when we were discussing racial identity, if he was a black man with a white mother or a white man with a black father?

This afternoon, I decided that he is  the latter.  I think it’s also about how you are raised. He couldn’t rid himself of his grandmother when she exhibited her racism but Rev. Wright was talking about unification with honesty not the denial and historic amnesia that this country is so well known for.

For me, over the more than forty years that I’ve been voting, it has usually been dealing with the lesser of the evils.  I’m back to that again.  But if, as my grandmother used to say, “the Lord works in mysterious ways”, today was a revelation.  Reverend Wright spoke of the good that could come from his words.  Today, the results of his words was a revelation that confirmed my continued lack of faith in politicians

I’ve directed a few more readers to ChickenBones. kindness, joy, love and happiness brother.—Chuck

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Less than a week ago, the Senator told us in a speech that we, the people, should not be swayed by the distractions of politics. “Physic, heal thyself.”

What a long and strange trip that it’s been from the “neat, articulate” black to the “fiery racist,” which either means that the Senator will easily respond to what he is called by the media, or that the people will eat whatever pabulum is squeezed from television speakers.

Does anybody read anymore?

How can people give former speechwriter for the Nixon regime Pat Buchanan, the original “angry white man” of 1994, Newt Gingrich, and other bloated teleprompter readers more prescience over their lived experiences as blacks in America than one that has been by vocation “a shepherd to his flock”? A shepherd, ironically enough, that found a lost sheep in the South side of Chicago, gave comfort and a voice to cease his bleating, and now must watch as the sheep claims that he never needed a gatekeeper.

If Jeremiah Wright were running for President, maybe I’d understand the concern, but no one has ever questioned the Christian Coalition, the Moral Majority, or Billy Graham as to whether they were “white nationalists.” This is hardly surprising, for I have viewed Senator Obama as a politician first, a candidate second, a black man third, and a Christian tangentially. This is no fault of the man, but of the Beast he attempts to claim and change.

$250 million dollars for a candidacy? It’s funny that Axelrod (Edward’s former and Obama’s current campaign manager) didn’t suggest that the Senator fund a “poor people’s” campaign.

How many tax breaks for the lower class could the two candidates have funded with this Student Council Presidency?

How many domestic abuse shelters could have have their food banks stocked? How many homes in the Gulf Coast could have received “start-up funds” after almost three years after “rebuilding”?

How many $2,000 “tight-times” stipends could have been released by the Democratic Party to families that are being strangled by insurance companies (Big campaign contributors), mortgage companies (Bigger contributors), and energy conglomerates (BIGGEST PROFITEERS)!!???

Do I question Obama’s judgment? No. Do I question those in which he enlists advise? Yes. Am I questioning his faith? No, I believe that he believes that he is a good man. Can I question his religion? Is this the same religion that those that segregated us gave us to study? Does this religion often teach that which is not written, such as a white church and a black church, or dragging corpses through the “House of God” (funerals), and wearing gold, silver, and platinum icons of worship while staring at a 16th century representation of a long-haired man?

I believe that if this cannot be questioned in one’s professed faith that it certainly should be discussed, but of course, I’m preaching to the choir. Keep the flame on, Brother Rudy. Much Respect—Raymond

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Rudy, I agree with most of your assessment. Wright, most certainly, spoke necessary truths.  I just don’t like his timing. I will support both men. But I want Rev. Wright to sit his behind down and shut the hell up until the election is over!

I need to hear what you’re saying about this Rev. Wright fiasco, because I am so sick of this man. YES—he speaks the truth.  But right now, Obama has an election to win and we need his image for our children and our morale.

Rev. Wright threw Obama under the bus yesterday, and I am so glad Obama returned the favor today. He needs to cut that nonsense loose.—Kola

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Jeremiah vs. Corporate Media

At this point . . . and maybe I’m being overly pessimistic . . . but I liken him to Judas.—Bev Jenai

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Melissa Harris-Lacewell, in her article, “Wright Prophet, Wrong Direction” compares Reverend Wright to Jonas, as in the Jonas and Whale Story. Both of you think that Wright has not weighed the significance of the moment and that rather than following the righteous lead of Obama, he has given in to a theological defensiveness and an offending ego. Initially, like many, with Wright’s  singing, dancing, use of biting folktales, and numerous folk mannerisms at the National Press Club,  I thought that Wright was “acting the nigger” and becoming a major embarrassment for black people, if not for Obama’s campaign.

But that was a momentary and superficial assessment. I concluded that the Obama candidacy cannot sink to the level that it denies another man his freedom of expression or his calling.  What kind of America are we hankering for?

 Wright said he told Obama that when he becomes President that he will be coming after him, for then Obama would be representing policies that are a threat to millions if not billions of people on the globe.

How can one not admire the man, Jeremiah Wright, who will not allow friendship or membership in his church to stand in the way of speaking what is just and right? We are not here to live for Obama or his presidency. We are here for more. So I say to you and others, we must not give into our racial fears and condemn Wright for his entitlement. Those whites who sink to the level of the media are not our friends. They do not want what is best for our communities. If we do not face up to them now, we’ll have to face up to them later. And then it might be too late.

Wright should be a small matter if Obama sincerely desires to become a leader of the Free World, not just white racists in PA and Ohio, other places in America and in the media. There are those who are much more retractable than Wright. There will be those political leaders in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, and the Middle East who will be much more of a threat than Jeremiah Wright. In any case, the problem is not with Wright, the problem is with a racist corporate media. In our anxiousness, we must not fall into the error of making Wright our enemy. He is for us, however imperfect he may seem presently. There is a much more insidious enemy, white male and female media pundits who are paid to stir up hostility and polarization among the races.

Obama has taken his position on Wright. If Obama feels obliged to continue to respond to the white racist media on a non-issue, that is on him; that’s his weakness. Americans are fairly sophisticated. They can see through what is going on with regard to a corporate media that relies on sensationalism to make a buck. Wright is right to insist that he is his own man and has his own mission. He is not attached to Obama at the hip. As my friend Wilson has pointed out, no political candidate who is a Catholic has to justify the dogma of the Catholic Church or its pope. Matter of fact, they exist into two different religious worlds. Catholic Americans pick and choose what they want to follow; probably most do not go to mass or confession.

So for those of us who want Obama to win the Democratic nomination and the presidency, we should not want it so much so that we should make such strange analogies of Wright as Jonas or Judas. Again, Wright is not our enemy; there are those much more of a threat to our communities and our well-being. The Black Church and its theologies also are not our enemies. Wright has worked well in our behalf.  It is the white racist media that does a disservice. They are the Jonas and the Judas in this political process. Let us then direct our venom where it is indeed deserved.—Rudy

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I beg to differ. A Judas analogy is not “strange.”  This situation is not about eggshells. It’s about ego. Precise timing matters.  Judas knew PRECISELY when to kiss Jesus. And, Jesus knew PRECISELY when to maintain silence (in the presence of Pilate). 

One who suffers from a WOUNDED EGO NEEDS to have it massaged IMMEDIATELY, whatever the costs. Maybe in years to come, when Wright has recovered from his moments of fame, he will be able to sit in silence and discover more of who he really is.  Jesus knew who he was and that is PRECISELY why he could button his lips at the right time!

Satan should be having a good old laugh ’round about now! However, in spite of Satan’s delight and Wright’s ego-needs, Wright is right about one thing; if God wants Obama to become president, he will.—Jeannette

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Bev took the words right out of my mouth. Wright is not only a Black Judas but also a shuckin’ and jivin’ clown, as well as an egotistical Bible-thumper. Once again, we see a self-centered, media-crazed Black man determined to take another Black man down—and in public. How long, how long . . . ? He might as well have put a knife in Obama’s back. And he calls himself a Christian!—Miriam

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Hi Rudy! . . . Obama—Well, you summed it up perfectly in your email “Jeremiah vs. Corporate Media”: “There is a much more insidious enemy, white male and female media pundits who are paid to stir up hostility and polarization among the races . . .”

People get so much media thrown at them everyday, every hour. They tried hard to scare us with Reverend Wright’s tapes but each bit I saw was edited for shock value. Reverend Wright should stay away from TV interviews and continue with his congregation and go about doing his regular things (and stay low). But you know, he probably likes being fussed over. He’s quite a showman and I saw him dancing a little to illustrate a point. Well, maybe we’ll see Reverend Wright with his own show some day.

Maybe Obama can find him a job at the White House once he gets in.   

It’s time for Obama. He’s intelligent. He has an honest open face and pretty smile. He stays “cool” all the time. He’s what our country needs.

Hillary Clinton wants the presidency for herself as an accomplishment and I don’t wanna see that husband of hers rompin’ around with all the free time on his hands. John McCain has no generation. I can’t relate to him. All he knows is logistics and war strategy—so I know what’s on his mind. He looks a slice a-white bread.

Well, I’m going to bed. I started working on “Broke, Black and Blue” album. It’s a four disc set with all sorts of unknown and known blues guys, jug bands and old pop most recorded in  1925-27. Love—Anita

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Hi Rudy, I am getting tired of the whole Obama-Wright controversy. Earlier this year I felt that Wright should have said what he said with more tact, but now my feelings have changed. Hillary doesn’t know how it feels to be called a nigger, plain and simple! Someone mentioned Wright having to walk on eggshells, but we all (blacks) have to walk on eggshells these days. If we try to say anything about this racist society or bring up slavery, we are considered angry black people. I am a very candid person as well, and I’m glad that Wright said what he said. He was direct and it was the truth. Obama’s comments have rubbed me the wrong way. I dare him go as far to say that he was appalled by Wright’s comments and that they should be denounced. Why? He should be appalled with a policeman shooting someone fifty times or Hillary’s priest molesting children. Now that’s something to be appalled about. I now realize that Obama will do anything to appease our caucasian friends. I don’t think he’s going to win the race and when it’s all over and done. He would have back-stabbed and denounced his supporters for what? Nothing! He should be ashamed! Hey maybe Wright should have run for president. At least he’s honest and not afraid to speak the truth.—Kiwana  

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Dear Rudy,   I never believed that Obama would be the Democratic nominee, and I certainly don’t think that he or any other President can bring about any sort of change. I simply never believed that Obama could either get elected or accomplish anything. I support him because he grew up outside the ethnocentric little world of black and white American provincialism, but could never understand why a man of Obama’s cosmopolitan background would want to join a Chicago megachurch.   Wright is wasting his media exposure with silly Farrakhan style nonsense. He should simply make the obvious point that all three candidates represent big business power structures; otherwise they could not be serious candidates.   To me Obama never represented anything other than an alternative to the Clintons. But I knew all along that the Clintons would get the nomination.  All three candidates are centrist, and at this point McCain may be a lesser evil than the Hill Billy Clintons. Maybe we should all vote for McCain, since he is the best Republican we are ever likely to get, and we should not allow the Hill Billies to take us for granted.—Wilson

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I have become rather fatalistic in this Media-Wright-Obama controversy. It really does not matter to me anymore. This desire that Wright walks on egg shells for Obama to win is too much to ask, however “silly” he behaves. The problem for some is not Wright, but Obama in the way he has responded to the corporate media in order to appease white racists. For an open society that we purported are, I found nothing wrong in Wright, in what he said or his timing. The man has a right to live his own life, and not make it an extension of Obama’s. In short, he established his independence at the Press Club.

Wright’s religious rhetoric is not “nonsense.” It’s a deadly attack on a racist media, despite the antics he used. When one’s life has been demonized and placed in jeopardy of bodily harm and death, the gloves indeed should come off and one should attack by any means necessary. The source of his support is a sound criticism of the corporate media. In fact, I was quite impressed by his performance.

If the Democratic super-delegates do not give Obama the nomination because of their fear of white racists, they will make a fatal error. Wright is no extremist; his ideology is Afrocentric, which I consider basically conservative, a type of racial nationalism found at almost every major white university in the country that has an Afro or African Studies department, including Harvard and Temple.

Maybe we have not reached where I thought we had come in America. If that is the case, it no longer matters to me whether Obama becomes President. Obama has power: he has more delegates and all the other elements to receive the nod from the Democratic Party. All these coming primaries will be a wash. I still believe most white Americans understand the political game the corporate media play and they know Obama is the better Democratic candidate. As you have pointed out he indeed is a centrist and offers no real threat to the System.  There are many blacks, however, wondering now what sort of black man we have voted for.

If Obama appears as the nominee for the Democrats, I will vote for him. For I think that he can bring about a spiritual change if not a material or ideological one. If the Democratic Party buckles to white racists and Obama does not appear on the ballot, I will stay home in November and consider alternatives to the Democratic and Republican parties. McCain does not need my vote to win.—Rudy

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Rudy, Obama did not respond in a manner to “appease white racists”. That’s completely untrue. Obama responded as a person who was very hurt.  You need to watch the tape. His heart was broken.

Hurt that someone he defended and previously refused to denounce had so viciously and carelessly set out to wreck Obama’s campaign—all for his own personal ego.Rev. Wright told nothing but pure truth about the issue of race in America.

But it was also clear that he was out to deliberately mock and injure Obama’s campaign. He chose to do it at the worst possible moment (he has now sunk Obama in polls for this Tuesday’s primaries)—clearly not giving a damn about Obama’s fate and the fact that his “performances” would be used to cut down Obama by those very white racists.

I am very glad that Obama returned the favor and threw his selfish egocentric ass under the bus. I am also extremely pissed off that Black Americans think it’s “too high” for a black man to seek the Presidency—and to set them aside in the process.

I wish that people would realize that the 1960’s are over, the days of Martin Luther King are over—Obama is not trying to be the new Malcolm X. He is running for President.  And it is time that a black progressed to that level, and especially one so honorable, knowledgeable and black-identified as Barack Obama.—Kola

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Has anybody thought about the fact that a lot of Black preachers, especially those in fundamentalist churches, are in the Republicans’ back pocket? They took money from the Bush administration in the last election to push his/their conservative, right-wing agendas: anti-abortion, anti-same-sex marriages, anti-sex education in schools, anti-stem cell research, pro-Creationism, etc. Neither Wright, nor his church subscribes to this agenda, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if some “men of the cloth” didn’t fan the flames of the Wright controversy for their own political purposes and financial gains. And of course you can expect Wright to appear soon on the Tavis Smiley show.—Miriam

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Hi Rudy: Thanks for sharing this . . . the two of you have given me much to think about…I’m disturbed by the way this Obama/Wright situation is playing itself out in the media and believe both brothers are (without their permission) being used as pawns to deflect folks attention from a lot of other fucked up shit going on in this country (we are in a damn-near-depression, lack of arts education in the schools crises, AIDS crises, elders choosing between medication and food, another generation of young folks who don’t know their history, and 30% graduation rate in public schools among Black kids, etc. etc. etc.) . . .  Obama wasn’t a member of Wright’s church for nothing and Wright ain’t said “nothin” that wasn’t the truth . . . Obama “is” a politician battling in a political game—I don’t agree with everything he does (like what you share here about how he’s dealing with the Wright situation) but that doesn’t take away from what I know about the way he’s lived his life to date. I remain conscious, critical, but praying he gets in—that’s when I’ll really be able to gauge who he is and what he’s about—but my spirit tells me, he’s the real deal—and so is his wife. Peace,—Mary

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Welcome to blackness in the post-black era of  America. Wright is right you know.  The  ridiculous assertion that he is some sort of fanatic is  the  devilish attempt of corporate media and those that control and benefit from  it to make us believe  that  a divided race driven America does not exist.  You see, if Wright has credibility; they must then answer to his allegations. Somebody might want to have a discussion about [them] as opposed to [being] colored by race in America. This exercise in denial is I believe the only type of discussion on race this Nation as a whole is capable of: the rhetoric of denial and misdirection. White folks telling us how far we have come and us agreeing, at least publicly. I feel like Jeremiah Wright.  He and I are not alone.  For Obama to truly represent me he would have to understand this. But I  am beyond expecting change from the top. I know the nature of politics and politicians.  Wright is free to tell his truth. Obama is not. Here is a teaching moment: witness the art of compromise and comprehend the nature of the land political where the negotiation and manufacture of reality often has little to do with “lived reality” as we know it. If you don’t know that there have been and are two Americas then you were raised some where else. Here’s another teaching moment: This is  how you measure the distance between the Nation and the Nation in the Nation. Wright speaks for a large majority of the Nation in the Nation. If the Nation is offended by his voice then they are offended by our lived reality and perhaps that is what enables them to dismiss discussions of reparations, racial realities and  measures of restitution beyond the half empty promise of full citizenship, (that my ancestors never asked for in the first place.) Does anyone care that as a North American African I am deeply offended by the denial and the burden of my lived reality? The gift of a president of color will do little to change this reality. Paying attention to and engaging the diatribe of the colorful canary in the coal mine personified by Jeremiah Wright might. If what white Americans who embrace Obama envision is a panacea to all color coded ills they are the delusional ones. Excuse Wright for wanting us to be awake and troubling the status quo publicly as liberation theology (the only form of Christianity that makes any sense for an African stranded in the event of America) has done privately for all of our time here in these un-United States of America. As a final teaching moment I posit: The demand of seemingly blind, definitely racist America, that Obama deny Wright in order to remain electable is an embodied example of  attempted coercive mirroring. That is what being American by the established American political definition means ; to emulate the master in all respects even to your own detriment, even if it means denying what you know to true. It seems to me I must chose between being a  good (blind) American or an aware North American African. For me there is no choice. As I sit in the belly, negotiating in lived reality with the daily cost of being a member of the Nation within the Nation, I find it impossible not to note how good the Nation is at remembering my blackness. How can I forget it? Obama in 08 Wright is right. One, WordSlanger

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Rudy and Wilson,  thanks so much for these dialogues, it saved me so much time and effort from writing them myself.  I confess.  I am thoroughly sick of all of it but most of all I am sad and I feel a loathing for the white media and all those who eat the poisoned crumbs from their table.  The presidential campaign has turned into a sheer joke and the whole world is watching.  I am working hard to turn my attention away from it all and to continue to do good work for me.  I am with Obama to the bitter end.—Peggy

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It’s the end of the semester, so I am swamped with the paper-grading process.   However, I do want to comment briefly. Wright reminds me of Rev. Cleage, the Detroit pastor of the Shrine of the Black Madonna, during the 1960s. Cleage was a nationalist and so is Wright. Obama represents the post-civil rights and post-Black Power generation. Hence, his political-theological ideas and practices punctuate this transition. While I am part of the earlier generation and hold a secular point of view , I can understand the split between Obama and Wright.   Of course, I do think that many religious leaders are arrogant, to say the least. Moreover, the “prosperity gospel” many of them preach is nothing but capitalist bullshit! These religious impostors sell capitalist aspirations to their “flock,” who then give and give so that the minister command considerable wealth. Rev. Creflo Dollar is a good example. He even has servants in his home.   Last week, I participated in a jazz conference in NC, and heard several jazz musicians state that when they joined the church, they were told that they had to abandon their music. To me, they were being told to abandon their livelihood by ministers who considered blues-jazz as the “devil’s music.” Does Wright (and other ministers) consider politics similarly? This kind of ignorant and arrogant theological notion is why many see the church as useless.   Since the Christian church . . . supposed to revere Jesus the Christ, how does it explain its conservatism and backwardness? My reading of the biblical stories of the life of this figure clearly suggests that the Christ was a radical who hung out not with the elite of his time, but with ordinary people. In fact, my reading (and many of the Sunday School teachers I had as a kid) indicated that he preached and worked in the interest of the “unwanted.” So, why is the church so conservative?   Of course in the Obama-Wright controversy, who is conservative and who is progressive? Or have these ideological categories become obsolete?—Floyd

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Rudy, a brief comment.  One thing that a great many people don’t seem to understand is that the electorate must change the face of the legislative branch of  government.  A Republican House and Senate will have the same impact (recall the fights of the Clinton era) as that which sat and empowered George the Dauphin.  A congress of Democrats, Independents, and others with the votes to make a difference can restrain a crazed Republican and, if a decent Democratic (or other) candidate is able to be elected, do some good for the people.

My son calls what is going on with the mass media television tabloid journalism.  I agree with him, again noting that these folk are creating NOT reporting the news.  Reverend Wright didn’t bogart his way to that podium at the Press Club . . . He WAS invited.

By the way.  There were articles that indicated the Cheneyites and Rummies DID threaten the Afghani BEFORE 9/11 with talks of bombing and the like if they weren’t permitted access via pipeline.  Also, Reverend Wright did cite a number of books that DARE to indicate the possibility of our governments complicity in the experiments of viruses in Africa. I met author John LeCarre about a decade or so ago and he told me about his book The Constant Gardener . . . interesting that it had to be written as fiction but there was a lot of fact about the drug manufacturers using African peoples as guinea pigs.

And I did grow up in the south when Cops could have billy club practice on black heads and “nigger knocking” was a fun practices in certain areas.  The best thing that might come out of all of this mess is that much needed conversation about the denial and historic amnesia that is pervasive in unread white America. But I just draw the funny pictures.—Chuck

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Loose and squishy

Most of us try to please people, but Obama, as does any man who is a man, has his limits.   For example he refuses to endorse McCain’s phony 18 cent gasoline tax  holiday, which Hillary supports.   Obama is a man possessed of a superior intellect, and a moral code superior to Hillary’s.  With respect to intellect, he has an excellent memory, and terrific capacity for logical integrity.  (In this he is like my favorite student.)   He also has immense social intelligence, combined with an ability to appraise rapidly how systems work.    Few human beings can match his abilities in these regards.

I think both he and McCain are less sociopathic than the Clintons.  Nonetheless he and McCain are politicians.   i would compare Obama to Condoleezza, and Colin, in that all three have tried to get away from the black stereotypes.  Unfortunately for the very gifted and praiseworthy Condoleezza, she has hitched her wagon to a falling star.   She is far more qualified and far more intelligent than Hillary.

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are to be commended for having kept their mouths shut and for giving Obama a chance to “do his thing.”   Fortunately for Obama, Jeremiah Wright (with his starved ego)  has provided Obama with an excuse to denounce him.

Wright has said some things that are true and that needed to be said, but at his age he should know how to tell the truth without placing an Uzi in the hands of his opponents.    Jackson and Sharpton are seemingly smarter than Wright.  Let’s hope they keep it up. 

I support Obama, but I dread seeing him elected, because in the unlikely event he should be elected, he will inherit a bag of loose and squishy shit, and all the rest of us Negroes will be blamed for his failure to dispose of it.—Wilson

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Jeremiah Wright as Trickster

Personally, I do not care for preachers who use God for a logical crutch, as an excuse for the things that are inappropriate and untrue. With his quick and acrid tongue, Wright with his subject (prophetic theology) mastered, like Cornell West, he’s a powerful and convincing public intellectual. In addition, Wright is as well personable, extraordinarily humorous as well as an excellent performer. I admire him for those skills. For many in his world, he’s an extraordinary man. Although I find him admirable as well, I could never be a member of his church, for he borders on being a charlatan.

For me religion is a personal and private matter. I am no churchgoer, preferring to think for myself. I am no fan or follower of Jeremiah Wright. (I am sure he will have another book on the market soon.) Still I will defend his right to defend himself from those he views as his demonizers. There were indeed real threats and like the good Marine he was, he worked up a strategy to protect himself from those who meant him ill. I cannot and will not fault the man for his tactics or his antics.

On the whole, he did no harm to Obama. From the latest report Obama has picked up five more superdelegates. Hillary has picked up four. Check out this report:

But the Wright controversy hasn’t stopped endorsements from superdelegates. One of them—Indiana Rep. Baron Hill—endorsed Obama on Wednesday morning, citing his ‘strength of character and ability to change the tone of Washington.”

“I am truly hopeful that his campaign and election will help unify our nation and ultimately change our politics,” the Democrat said in a press release.

Another superdelegate, Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley, also endorsed Obama for president Wednesday, an Obama aide told CNN. Braley is a first-term Democratic congressman who represents an eastern district that hugs the Illinois border.

Also Wednesday, California Rep. Lois Capps, a superdelegate, co-chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues and mother-in-law to Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton, endorsed Obama.

She joins fellow Iowan and Democratic National Committee member Richard Machacek, also a superdelegate, in supporting Obama this week. Superdelegate Ben Chandler, a Kentucky representative, also announced he is backing Obama. . . .

According to CNN’s latest count, Obama has a total of 1,730 delegates (pledged: 1,491, superdelegates: 239). Clinton has a total of 1,593 delegates (pledged: 1,332, superdelegates: 261)

A new CNN “poll of polls” released Wednesday shows a dead heat between the two Democrats nationwide: Obama with 45 percent, Clinton with 44 percent, and 11 percent unsure.  (CNN)

Moreover, because of his performance, however inappropriate, Wright has allowed Obama to cut the sentimental ties. So instead of using an “uzi,” Wright has provided Obama a bridge by which to cross over. For Wright, Obama is merely a “member” of his church, not a “nephew” nor even a friend, but primarily a politician. January 21, he warned Obama, I will be coming after you. So they are contending forces, as they should be, if Wright is to be true to his calling. Wright is a pastor, he kept reminding us. He is now free to be his own man and free to preach whatever kind of sermon he pleases, adopt or sustain whatever ideology he finds useful for his purposes and means.

That indeed is the way that it should be. Why should any pastor subject himself to a member of his church, even if that member is running for the presidency of the USA? I agree with your assessment of Obama. He too is indeed an extraordinary man and has much more smarts and intellectual abilities than the Clintons and McCain put together. But sometimes he can be too calculating. That is why he joined Trinity, the megachurch. For many of Black Chicago’s elite attended the church. That is, it was a useful political calculation. Wright and Trinity were useful on his way up, useful to his political ends.

Because of Wright’s performance, the media (including CNN) with satisfaction tried to reduce him not to the “angry black.” Note Wright’s jocular attitude throughout the Q & A, steadily smiling and seemingly unmarked by any of the asinine and insulting questions that were put to him. So for media he is rather a crazy old Negro preacher. That is, Wright is no Farrakhan clone or rabbler rouser; for Wright is a scholar and learned man as well. Probably much more important for South Chicago, Wright has built an extraordinary institution, namely, Trinity, from the ground up. But much more important to know: Wright is a trickster. 

So to raise Obama up and push down Wright because of Obama’s campaign, we fail to grasp the actual reality of what has happened and what is happening. In these racial matters we too often give in to our racial fears. As Wright said, what is for Obama will be for Obama. No blame should land on the head of Wright if Obama loses. I must remind you, however good and excellent a man Obama is, he is no saint; he is as he has said, imperfect. Still he is an astute politician who means more or less well. Within the context he has chosen, he on the whole has served us well.—Rudy

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Yeah, but, looka: here’s Rev. Wright’s overriding, abiding, overarching, self-assured gift of belief: A prophet is not someone who talks about the future. Prophecy is always about the past and the present: about how one has transgressed and is transgressing. More importantly, however, it’s not Rev Wright who is the speaker in the text of these sermons. It is God speaking through the prophet. You and I may not believe this, but we can understand this: once a pastor, minister, and preacher dons a different cloth or clothing to stand at the pulpit before the congregation, it is no longer the man or the woman who speaks. It is much like what it is for you when you are moved to sit down some place at the edge of the world to let some urge as a poem come out of you. At that moment, you have no choice; you let be released what wants and needs to be released at that moment, where past, present, and future are one. Poets can edit and revise but prophets cannot. It’s only church tricksters who prevaricate, dissemble, and shape-shift. Shape-shifting is for politicians and diplomats, not prophets, especially not for those who may not even know that they are prophesying at that moment that disturbs and troubles the rest of us. Nonetheless, this collection of points of view is a good, inspired gift to us, as are all of such collections from you. Thank you so very much.—Mackie

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I want to know who stood up for Michelle when she voiced a truth that is hard for most white Americans to swallow.  Also, there have been a number of thinking Caucasians (note I did not use the political term “white”) that came out in defense of Reverend Wright and his “right” to fight back against those “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” though, with this modern media the effort did not “end them”.

I’m sorry that some of our folk think that Wright should do what his/our opposition wants…sit down and shut up.  That is NOT the way of the warrior. 

I also agree that Eshu is in the game.  However, this time truth is being told as a result of his efforts at this political crossroad.—Chuck

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Good discussions.  Keep it up.—Peggy

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Shape Shifters and Prophets   You and I may not believe this, but we can understand this: once a pastor, minister, and preacher dons a different cloth or clothing to stand at the pulpit before the congregation, it is no longer the man or the woman who speaks.—Mackie

Well, that is the difficulty I have with Wright, the churchman. He makes no clear distinction between Jeremiah the Prophet and Jeremiah the Man (the public intellectual). Was he Jeremiah the Prophet on 26 April at the National Press Club? Is he a prophet every time he steps into the pulpit? The answer for me is a resounding NO. Otherwise he would have been burnt out long ago. No one can carry the torch of God for the decades in which his career has extended. Even the prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, made a distinction between Muhammad the transmitter of the word of God and Muhammad the Man.  Thus we have both the Koran and the Sayings of Muhammad.

Because Jeremiah Wright blurs these roles, he and other such preachers and pastors trouble me. I do not trust them on face value—in the pulpit or out. So on 26 April in DC,  Wright was more akin to the “church tricksters who prevaricate, dissemble, and shape-shift.” Though I do not know his sermons, I’d gamble that on some Sundays when he preached at Trinity your description aptly describes those performances as well.

As you have suggested, Wright “dons” different cloths or masks. He is a churchman. That is, he has built a megachurch of 6,000 members. That is not what prophets do. And such enterprising construction is no small matter to accomplish without becoming involved in local politics. Prophets strictly speak the word of God. They don’t wheel and deal as those who build megachurches. Wright is a theologian as well: that is, he has constructed a religious ideology, partially based on cultural interpretations of what it means to be black and African. That is a sociopolitical endeavor. The fellow is a scholar in the Afrocentric mode of persuasion, too, a black nationalist. All these roles are outside of prophethood and prophesying. In short, Wright is a black churchman who is a step on your toe if necessary politician. So his disclaimer is nonsense and a signifying trick to fool the unawares and the ignorant.

It is the same with poets. Some have been insurance men. Some have been demagogues and journalists as well. Their poems may strike a truthful chord. But their business dealings may be the most crooked.  Their intellectual stances the most servile and neo-conservative. I’ll call no names. They may be politicians, as well, wheeling and dealing in smoke-filled back rooms. Their political judgment may be the worse. It may be best that some poets stick to writing poetry and stay off the political stage.

As the Pope warned liberation theology inclined Latin American priests, some think that Wright should stay off the political, that he should rather perform and serve strictly his religious functions—like baptizing, marrying, funeralizing, and handing out bread and wine, visiting the sick and shut-in, praying for recovery and restoration—pastoring his 6,000-member flock. But I do not think that has ever been his stock and barrel. Like Obama he has had his national leadership ambitions as well. He has long wanted to go big-game hunting.

Maybe Wright will produce two books to clarify the matter: The Prophecies of Jeremiah and the Sayings of Jeremiah. We might know then more clearly who is speaking when he bellies up to a lectern or climbs up behind a pulpit. So far, in Wright, I’ve seen a lot of posturing and masking. Some think he has told the truth and nothing but the truth. That assessment for me is far from the truth of things. Wright indeed may have his moments of clarity, as do we all. But Wright’s been tricking for a long time.

I am not trying to disparage Wright or denounce him. I am trying to get at a realistic assessment of the man. He has not hurt me. He is not my enemy. But he is no more of a trustworthy politician than is Obama. They will do whatever is necessary to accomplish their goals. Principles and God be damned. . . . Nevertheless, I wish each Godspeed in their pursuits—Rudy

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Has anybody thought about the fact that a lot of Black preachers, especially those in fundamentalist churches, are in the Republicans’ back pocket? They took money from the Bush administration in the last election to push his/their conservative, right-wing agendas: anti-abortion, anti-same-sex marriages, anti-sex education in schools, anti-stem cell research, pro-Creationism, etc. Neither Wright, nor his church subscribes to this agenda, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if some “men of the cloth” didn’t fan the flames of the Wright controversy for their own political purposes and financial gains. And of course you can expect Wright to appear soon on the Tavis Smiley show.—Miriam

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You may be worrying too much about the impact of Wright’s rhetoric and performance on Obama’s candidacy. Personally I do not care for the rhetoric of the contemporary Black Church, no matter that it has a great dose of the strappings of Afrocentrism. Its argument is too strained.   Those whites who will vote for Obama will see through all of this race baiting on all sides. Surely, we will not base Obama’s win or lost on Wright, though I’d  preferred if Wright had remained quiet and more subtle until Obama’s political processes had come to its conclusion. But Wright, who has been demonized and bodily threatened, reserves the right to defend himself. For me the whole matter is a wash – Rudy

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 Maybe I do worry too much. I just hope that the Wright matter doesn’t result in Obama’s loss of Black votes, because you know how defensive our folk are about their preachers and their churches.—Miriam

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Prophets, Religion, and Government‏

Dearly beloved!

I want to get a little word in edgewise about a few aspects of biblical, theological freedom I believe important in the current debate you have so very well and appropriately assembled.

One question the Press and politicians have wrestled with ever since Augustine’s The City of God laid out the beliefs that helped give rise to the Middle Ages: Should religion be an arm of the state, or should the state be an arm of religion? The Emperor  Charlemagne  also donned the office of Pope, while Pope Hildebrand also donned the mantle of Emperor. Charlemagne used religion to punish political enemies while Hildebrand used political means to dispose of religious enemies. Both forgot the mission that emanated from the life experiences of the makers of the Bible. After five centuries of imperialistic invasions and occupations by Western powers using religion as a tool of government, including the USA, various nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America feature religions rising up to control political power, a reversal of world importance, and why we must study religion as never before. 

I have contended all along that Jeremiah Wright, a fallible, finite human who lives and works among struggling people seems to prefer at least nowadays the rant style of an Amos to the more priestly style of Hosea, Amos’s contemporary. No doubt he blended the two styles to build up a corporate size congregation of 6,000. One of the Christian functions of prophecy is to build up. 

Uniformly, the peoples who composed and edited the 99 books we call the Bible were poor, oppressed, exiled, segregated by the various empires with whose religions, cultures, and societies they wrestled. Therefore, the functions the West separates into little boxes are all part of one and the same reality in the Bible. Religion, culture, social development, and government and all their components parts comprise the one and only consideration stemming from a relationship with the Lord God. Another function of prophecy is to tear down. Building up, encouraging, and consoling people out of steadfast love (1 Corinthians 14.6) has dominated everything I have heard Rev. Wright say and do in the context of his ministries as Pastor and Evangelist. I do not agree with everything he says any more than I expect him to agree with everything I say. Giving him some respect and consideration as a loving Pastor, however, I try to understand and empathize before I analyze, criticize, and aver my interpretation of the same data and experiences. 

The clash between Graeco-Roman classifying of religions, culture, and social mores and the very Afro-Asian honor-shame unifying views of the Biblical authors came to a head among the prophets of the Hebrew scriptures like Jeremiah. He warned people who wanted to boast not to boast of education, wealth or power, but to boast of knowing the Lord God who “acts with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.” Jeremiah 9.23-24, 1 Corinthians 1.26-31

I agree that the clash over Wright resulted, in part, because of a racist stereotyping, one of the little boxes into which the Press and some political strategists sort out controversies not embraced by their world views, as so many contributors noted. Which is another reason, as Obama said in Philadelphia, we must have serious conversations about the history of institutionalized racism and how it functions to tear down, discourage, and cause despair among targeted peoples in this nation and around the world.

Grace, mercy and peace to all of your wonderful contributors.—Ralph Garlin Clingan

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Well said. . . . I think that the controversy of Obama and Wright has run its course. The cord has been severed. At the core of the problem is that few of us (black, white, yellow, red) could imagine Trinity as the church of the President of the United States. 

Too much racial ideology. Too much that is unsettling there. Trinity is unwilling to accommodate or reconcile themselves to a presidency that will represent many untoward policies at home and abroad. It has tied itself to too many non-status quo persons, such as left wing socialists as well as extremely right wing religious black nationalists like Farrakhan.

Again, Wright gave Obama a bridge by which to satisfy the status quo (black and white). Like Moses, Wright was unwilling to cross over Jordan with Obama’s movement. So indeed Obama was prescient (if not prophetic) in calling himself a Joshua.— Rudy

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I don’t think the Jeremiah Wright business is about to die.   It will be on television many times every day for as long as Obama is in the race.   Hillary has closed the gap in North Carolina, and is winning in Indiana. 

Her gas tax gimmick is a stroke of genius.   She understands the stupidity of the people, and that is why she will be the democratic candidate. . . .

I must say that I find Hillary Clinton astounding.   I have never seen such shameless demagogic pandering to ignorance, nor have I ever seen a more effective program of creating race and class conflict.   She and her campaign demonstrate true genius, and the rewards of that genius will be victory in Indiana and a moral victory in North Carolina for the Clinton team. 

I think it is certain that Clinton’s delegates from Michigan and Florida will be seated.   Then there will be some behind the scenes management of the convention to make certain there is no disorder. 

In the November election, I think there may be a victory for McCain.   I do not trust either of the presumptive candidates.

I do not think I can vote in good conscience for either of them, and I don’t know if I find Nader acceptable either.   I fear I may be forced to sit this election out, as I have sat-out so many in the past. I do not find it morally acceptable to vote for the lesser of two evils, especially when I am not certain as to which of the evils is the lesser.—Wilson

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It’s sunny. Warm. The sky a milky blue. All the trees, rocked by pleasant breezes, are green now. Red-breasted robins, eyed by my cat lying in a chair on the screened porch, are feeding in the lawn. It’s going to be hot by the afternoon.

The kids at the school had their prom last night, not in the school gym, but at Fort Lee in Petersburg. Girls spent at least $300 in preparation—new dress, new shoes; hair, nails (fingers and toes), etc.. Boys spent much less. Some came in limousines. Some rented motel rooms. As I understand it only 10 percent will graduate with a B average. The poorest county in VA, most will have only a modest chance of going to college, more than you think will go into the military.  Most teachers find the kids’ behavior influenced by the low life of the drug culture (hip hop included) too much to modify. But summer recess will come in a few weeks.

No, we do not know what the future will bring. The political aftermath of Wright may have some impact on the remaining primaries. But it will be a wash. Of course, I have no idea what the DNC will do. The last I heard the DP will not let the uncertainty go beyond June. That reasoning was before the resurfacing of Jeremiah, however. But that episode is what one wants to make of it. It’s the job of leaders to stand above the fray and not be overly persuaded by this or that battle. As far as the numbers, the odds remain with Obama.

Michigan and Florida, they cannot justly be seated as Hillary wants it. She cannot be rewarded breaking the rules. That will create additional rancor, much more than the Wright episodes. Doubtless the DP officials are between a rock and a hard place. They, however, cannot give Hillary the nomination. They must take the high road, win or lose, and give it to Obama. Or they risk losing everything.—Rudy

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Reverend Jeremiah Wright at the NAACP (video) / Bill Moyers Journal: Essay on Reverend Wright | PBS

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Interview with Jeremiah Wright  / Jeremiah Wright with Bill Moyers


Conversation with Dr. Jeremiah Wright Jr.

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Forged: Writing in the Name of God

Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are

By Bart D. Ehrman

The evocative title tells it all and hints at the tone of sensationalism that pervades this book. Those familiar with the earlier work of Ehrman, a distinguished professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and author of more than 20 books including Misquoting Jesus, will not be surprised at the content of this one. Written in a manner accessible to nonspecialists, Ehrman argues that many books of the New Testament are not simply written by people other than the ones to whom they are attributed, but that they are deliberate forgeries. The word itself connotes scandal and crime, and it appears on nearly every page. Indeed, this book takes on an idea widely accepted by biblical scholars: that writing in someone else’s name was common practice and perfectly okay in ancient times. Ehrman argues that it was not even then considered acceptable—hence, a forgery. While many readers may wish for more evidence of the charge, Ehrman’s introduction to the arguments and debates among different religious communities during the first few centuries and among the early Christians themselves, though not the book’s main point, is especially valuable.—Publishers Weekly  / Forged Bart Ehrman’s New Salvo (


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Santeria: The Beliefs and Rituals 

of a Growing Religion in America

By Miguel A. De La Torre

This book by Miguel De la Torre offers a fascinating guide to the history, beliefs, rituals, and culture of Santeria — a religious tradition that, despite persecution, suppression, and its own secretive nature, has close to a million adherents in the United States alone. Santeria is a religion with Afro-Cuban roots, rising out of the cultural clash between the Yoruba people of West Africa and the Spanish Catholics who brought them to the Americas as slaves. As a faith of the marginalized and persecuted, it gave oppressed men and women strength and the will to survive. With the exile of thousands of Cubans in the wake of Castro’s revolution in 1959, Santeria came to the United States, where it is gradually coming to be recognized as a legitimate faith tradition.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 1 May 2008 




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