Monday, March 24, 2008

Post-Easter Greetings...

We hope all of you had a wonderful celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus this past weekend.

Sorry for the delay in updating this Blog, but Holy Week puts a crimp in the schedule for a parish pastor. Two items I want to comment about:

At the risk of turing this Blog into an obituary column, I should say I was saddened, as was the WORLD, to hear of the death of author/futurist Arthur C. Clarke recently. The 90-year-old Brit wrote a host of wonderful stories, one of which evolved into the screenplay for "2001: A Space Odyessy." He foresaw the coming of geo-synchronous communications satellites, and had a positive vision of human achievement. He--and his ideas--will be missed.

Now to the Barack Obama/pastor flap thing. I will never cease to be amazed at the ignorance of the white community in this country. While I don't profess to being any kind of expert about the African-American church, I have at least attended a few and have heard a number of my African-American colleagues preach. To suggest--as myriad white pundits, journalists, and "persons on the street" have--that the black church should "steer clear" of political issues is just plain fantasy. If the black church and its leaders had NOT addressed political justice concerns down through the decades, I shudder to think where blacks would be today. Do we remember Martin Luther King, Jr.? He was a BLACK PREACHER people! Obama's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, has not said anything that other African-American clergy have not said from countless pulpits across this land. One might have heard the same thing from a number of white pulpits as well, say for example from the pulpit of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. when the Clintons attended there during Bill's presidency. The Rev. Dr. J. Philip Wogeman was not known for his mild rebuke of the white "ruling class" and the politics of affluence. About our "cluelessness" regarding this aspect of the black culture, Professor Dwight Hopkins of the University of Chicago School of Divinity has said: "Most white Americans have a very limited capacity for dealing with black anger or acknowledging their own racial privileges. Wherever white people are dominant, whiteness is transparent to them. In black church communities, dealing with that problem is an every week issue." I couldn't agree more.

In one of the churches I served, a black professional with a Ph.D. once told my Sunday School class about how when he walks down a street in Pittsburgh--wearing an expensive suit and carrying a fancy leather briefcase--white women coming the other direction will often clutch their purses against their bodies when passing by him. Look at the quote above again, friends. For we white persons, our "whiteness" is transparent. We are easily fooled into believing the race issue is behind us. It is not--not even in the North.

Obama's speech on the matter was superb, but I'm still hearing the churning about his affiliation with Pastor Wright. Let's move on.

What's Next?

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