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Pat Buchanan Needs to Attend Obama’s Church

March 23, 2008

"Years ago I heard an American missionary to Arabia make a speech
concerning the attitude of the people in that land toward the British.
He said that he and an Arab friend were taking a boat ride down a
certain river when a British yacht passed. With quiet fury the Arab
friend said, “Damn the English.” “Why do you say that? They have done
good service to your country in terms of health and so forth. I don’t
understand.” “I said, ‘Damn the English,’ because they think they are
better than I am.” Here was stark bitterness fed by the steady oozing
of the will to resentment."
– Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited

I’m back, after a long hiatus, and I couldn’t have returned during a more important time. What with all of the venom being spewed about Sen. Obama’s former Pastor, Jeremiah Wright by the media.  A conversation that I have seen as wholly lacking in context. So, for a moment let me discuss the Black church experience in America.

It was our experience to be excluded from the American church. Ministers and lay leaders of the white Christian churches flatly refused to include us in their worshipful community.  It was our experience to be given an uneven gospel, a gospel that spoke half truths, a gospel that condone – no – promoted cattle slavery, a gospel that demanded fealty without reason and piety without the end being reward (since there remained a question of whether or not we had souls). It was our experience to be denied the truth that Jesus was of African descent and that many of the principals that defined his "Good News" were indelibly African; and it is this experience that taught us, it was this experience that gave root to the African-American preachers prophetic voice, his liberation, his theology.

This is the experience that caused James Baldwin to pen the words

"To be an Afro-American, or an American black, is to be in the situation, intolerably exaggerated, of all those who have ever found themselves part of a civilization which they could in no wise honorably defend – which they were compelled, indeed, endlessly to attack and condemn – and who yet spoke out of the most passionate love, hoping to make the kingdom new, to make it honorable and worthy of life."

and it is this divine and prophetic voice that was voiced by Black America’s great theologian Howard Thurman, former Dean of the noted and historic Howard University Rankin Chapel, who explained the soul of the American Blacks Christian mission

"The disinherited man has a sense of gross injury. He finds it well-nigh impossible to forgive, because his injury is often gratuitous. It is not for something that he has done, an action resulting from a deliberate violation of another. He is penalized for what he is in the eyes and the standards of another. Somehow he must free himself of the will to retaliation that keeps alive his hatred."

This, in essence is what the mission of the Black clergy and Black church has always been. To bridge the space between the sense of injury that is inherent in the African-American’s history and the desire to take an ultimately unrewarding vengeance.  It is to call men to

"let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! – Amos 5:24"

It is this truth that Sen. Obama has plied himself to, and Pat Buchanan has refused.

Today, I read the further spewing of Buchanan’s opinion of Rev. Wright and Sen. Obama, in his column "A Brief for Whitey".  A treatise which served to abdicate white American culpability for any of the problems Sen. Obama discussed in his monumentally intelligent speech. Now, I never quote Buchanan, but I found this bit of his drivel so breathtaking I must share it, if only to express the level of ignorance many of the conservative media harbor.

"Barack
says we need to have a conversation about race in America.

Fair
enough. But this time, it has to be a two-way conversation. White America needs
to be heard from, not just lectured to.

This
time, the Silent Majority needs to have its convictions, grievances and demands
heard. And among them are these:

First, America
has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000
black people, brought from Africa in slave
ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian
salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks
have ever known."

Stunningly stupid, I know.  In a nutshell, it appears Buchanan thinks we should be praising the slave traders for delivering us like cattle to the auction blocks of Boston and Charleston – as if those slave traders had some good intention. Alas, this statement in more ways than one explains why Buchanan could not like most of us identify with Sen. Obama, or like many of us with Rev. Wright.  Buchanan like many Christians know only a partial gospel, and a incomplete Christian mission.

The unfortunate truth about Buchanan’s form of Christianity, is that it is without the balance of justice.

He wholly attributes the American church (white)  as the bastion of Christian salvation, a love centered, forgiving institution where redemption is free, but without the justice that its Bible requires. It is justice that Wright railed against the machine for, and not the justice that most Christians believe in.  Not the damning of a soul to a fire hell, not the shallow vengeance of a God to terrible to be loving. No, the justice that God (at least the true Christ) would see is the equity of all achieved, and by that equity the law of God fulfilled

"to love your neighbor as yourself"

That is the Black church’s message, that was what Rev. Wright wanted to convey – that is what Obama tried to articulate in his speech this week – that is what the ignorant racism of Pat Buchanan can’t see.

Maybe if he attended a couple of services at Trinity he’d see the LIGHT!

 

 

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