race, church and politics in america

obamaandwright.jpgWe who live in this corner of the western Chicagoland suburbs tend to be fairly affluent and fairly white. There are plenty of exceptions (as my wife, who works with the working poor, could point out), but by in large we exist within a privileged white culture. One of the implications of this reality is that when a story that involves race surfaces we often pay it little mind.

The most current example of this possible tendency involves the story of Barack Obama’s pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, and some of the controversial things he’s said in some of his sermons. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, the BBC has a good recap. This story has massive political implications but it also matters deeply to many African Americans, particularly those who are committed to the black church. While I could be wrong, my guess is that many of us in white suburbia remain largely unaware of the story and why it is so important to many Americans.

From personal observation- and this is huge generalization- it seems one of the reasons we don’t notice these types of stories is the tendency among our (white suburban) tribe to get our news and opinions from very similar sources. And, if I can be blunt, those sources often tend to be quite “conservative” and geared to white suburbanites. Think Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, The Wall Street Journal, or even many Christian radio stations. To be crystal clear, I’m not advocating that we should only get our news from more “liberal” sources. Not at all. The point is simply that we cannot expect to understand the perspective of those whose cultures and backgrounds are different than our own unless we intentionally listen well. And with humility… but that’s for another day.

After the initial hoopla over the Reverend Wright’s comments, two men I respect, both Christian and African American, wrote very insightful responses. If you have a few minutes would you read Edward Gilbreath (formerly of Christianity Today) and Professor Jonathan L. Walton?

As an aside, today Barack Obama* delivered an incredibly significant speech about race in America. I have a sense this may be the type of speech that people will refer to years from now. If you’ve not seen it, gather up the friends and family and take a look.

*No this isn’t an endorsement of Obama’s campaign. I’m currently wrestling with whether or not I can vote for anyone in good conscience… but that’s also for another day.

4 thoughts on “race, church and politics in america

  1. Well said! I’ve often said (don’t I sound so ostentatious, quoting myself…) that we should listen to our “enemies” with open ears – how else will we learn about ourselves?

    And yes – that was a historic speech for sure…

    Thanks for your comments, and for reading…and for the links. Those were great posts you sent me too…

  2. Well, I’ll be the first to say it. Despite being a typically Republican voter, I’d rather see Obama in office than McCain. Not that I don’t like McCain, but I think instead of seeing someone who has had a career in politics, I’d rather see what “the new guy” would actually bring. I still believe that a well-spoken, friendly everyman would do much better in terms of real work in the office, than any “politician” could ever do. The politician understands how the game works all too well, and doesn’t seem to think outside of the box much. Whereas I think even if it lasted only one term, I think Obama would do some radically different things. Which good or bad, I’d rather see than status quo.

    I don’t agree with much of his platform nor do I want to vote for him just to get “over the hump” of not having a black president previously. But with Huckabee out of the race, I’d rather bet on an unknown than again, the status quo.

    I don’t know why I felt obligated to write this, because I typically CANNOT STAND politics in general, but for some reason I wrote. Forgive me if I seem naive.

  3. Also, as a side note, I refuse to pay Fox News any attention anymore, after they had an entirely FALSE news story about the video game “Mass Effect” on one of their shows where they called the Xbox 360 the “seXbox” and stated that the game was capable of interactive sex scenes with full nudity (both entirely and utterly false) and when questioned about this in the same segment by a creator of the game who said “Did you even play the game?” the host responded with a haughty “Of COURSE not?” as if she wouldn’t dare tarnish herself with such a crude thing.

    Anyway, If reporting like that can go on (it’s not like a bias… it’s outright falsity), then the station itself is suspect.

Leave a Reply to Catherine Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s