Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008




"Bush's War" and Baraak's preacher

It would seem to me that the only way in which someone could watch the PBS Frontline special, "Bush's War," and not feel criminally hoodwinked by the present administration is to have simple and blind faith in George W and his buddies Cheney and Rumsfeld. It is extraordinary journalism, but it's also devastating in its criticism of what how people in the highest echelons of this government have operated in the last five years--and of what we've suffered at the hands of two men who were damnably sure they alone held the truth about what must be done in the Middle East.

It would be wonderful to see Fox News do a similar show, disproving all of the assertions because I would really like to believe that I wasn't hoodwinked, that the fate of this whole country wasn't really in the hands of two monomaniacs (Cheney and Rumsfeld), that our national motives were as good as the political rhetoric from Karl Rove throughout those years. I'd like to believe that this country didn't suffer what it has because of the insufferable egos of two men.

Here's what I think. Maybe we could have used more preachers as prophetic in their denunciation as was Jeremiah Wright. Maybe what we needed was more "incendiary preaching," not less.

I clearly remember a structured discussion here at the college where I teach, two profs taking sides on whether or not an incursion into Iraq was a good idea. The pro-Bush prof used all of the Administration's good arguments--WMDs were there, Saddam was a pariah, there was some kind of link between him and 9/11. The prof who opposed the war said we were creating an unthinkable mess that would create chaos throughout the region.

And I remember thinking the prof who was against it was wrong because he simply didn't trust George W. Bush. And I did. And I was wrong.

It seems difficult, at least mathematically, to see how Obama could be prevented from the Democratic nomination, but it's clear that the Jeremiah Wright sermons have done more damage to his appeal than anything else he's suffered in this marathon campaign. I suppose it should--and it certainly will with some. But not with me.

I once had a friend, a Jewish friend, who converted to Christianity while we were together, teachers at a city high school. When he asked me once about where he might go to church, I told him about a church I thought he might like. It wasn't mine. He found that strange. I told him I thought he wouldn't exactly "get it" at my church. "Then why do you go there?" he said, a devastating question.

That's a question that I've continued to ask myself throughout my life. I suppose I continued to go to that little struggling church out of an allegiance to a people, a tribe, a community. I continued to go to church there, a place where Jesus Christ was preached, because I knew was a part of that world, that part of my human identity was there--my people were there.

That may well be a bad reason--and it certainly seemed so to my friend; but it's at least part of the reason Obama likely sat through sermons that set his teeth on edge. Whether everything that happened in that church from Sunday to Sunday was pleasing and wonderful was a secondary concern; in a way, Obama knew that place was his people. I know that argument feels racist, but it's no more racist than it is communitarian, methinks.

Yesterday, at a press conference, Hillary Clinton said if the choice had been hers, she would have walked out of the church where such things were preached. I suppose she would have.

Only if patriotism--love of country--is considered to be the highest moral or spiritual value, or so it seems to me, should anyone consider her walking out of her own church as the moral high road.

Yesterday's on-line Christianity Today featured a story by a Turkish theologian which seemed to me to nudge up quite closely to what people used to call "liberation theology," the association of Jesus Christ with insurgent causes in developing nations on the basis of Christ's insistent claims for the poor and against political power. It seems to me that Bush's War makes clear is that we likely could have used more, not less liberation theology back then, even here in the U.S. of A.


1 comment:

Real Live Preacher said...

Amen Amen Amen

Hey, this guy was speaking in the classical role of a prophet, and doing so in the style of the Black American church. Get the hell out of the man's face!

Listen to his words. There is truth in them. We might not like it, but there is. Thank you for saying so.