Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Can he overcome?

Sen. Barack Obama made a speech today in Philadelphia calling for racial unity and making it clear he does not agree with the incendiary statements from the pulpit by his now-former minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. There also have been attempts recently to link Obama with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and he's had to deal with the Chicago corruption trial of longtime political supporter and benefactor Tony Rezko. Then you have the nut jobs who trot out photos of Obama in traditional African garb and, by pairing that with his middle name, Hussein, suggest that he must be a radical Muslim. Obama has been forced to repudiate Wright and Farrakhan, and he gave to charity money that Rezko raised for him. These are not developments that a candidate welcomes, but it's also unlikely that they will totally derail Obama's candidacy. The Clintons have a few skeletons in their closet, as does Republican nominee-in-waiting Sen. John McCain. There is an old saying in Southern politics that the only thing that can really kill a candidate is getting caught in bed with a live boy or a dead girl. Unless it's found that Obama's dealings with Rezko are more serious than currently known, or someone finds a video of him helping the Rev. Wright denounce white America, he'll probably survive this recent surge of bad press. Ultimately, he's no more responsible for the statements of a preacher than Hillary Clinton is for the remarks by Geraldine Ferraro that were taken by some as racist. But he had better be prepared for more attacks, because it appears Clinton's best hope to capture the nomination is to persuade the all-powerful superdelegates that Obama is unelectable. Attack politics have been around pretty much as long as there have been elections in this country. One would hope that someday we could rise above this and focus on the major issues facing the nation, but it doesn't look as if that day is coming anytime soon.



Blogger Dale Lolley said...

It does make you wonder why a man as smart as Obama seems to be would have Wright as a member of his election team. He had to know these statements would be made public.
Also makes me wonder why he chose to continue to attend Wright's church.
If the minister of the church I attended made similar statements, I'd find myself a new church, not continue to go there. And he certainly wouldn't be part of my election campaign crew.

March 18, 2008 at 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless of course he believes what Wright says. He did not denounce him, but informed us that we had to have a discussion about race. Maybe, just maybe to end racism, we have to quit talking about race.
In addition, do you honestly believe that he did not talk in his conversations about these things in the past?
His wife has also talked of the hatred of this nation. These are the people closest to him. It does matter and it does hurt his campaign.

March 18, 2008 at 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Said Obama: "...Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems ...."

To me, that means Obama doesn't believe what Wright said. If Obama did not "denounce," perhaps it's because he is trying to set a higher standard. Denouncing is far too easy and common, and the "American way" should be to work to fix what's wrong, not burn down the house because it is infested with termites.

Unfortunately, I think America is still too racist (or fearful) and misogynistic (or fearful) to elect either a black or a woman to the White House.

March 19, 2008 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Wait a minute. How can Barack Hussein Obama be in trouble for remarks his Christian leader said when he's not even a Christian? Everyone already knows that Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim.

Acutually I agree with the previous poster.

March 19, 2008 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Roger said...

The speech, and the follow up commentaries, articles, and editorials, again demonstrate how poorly the press is equipped to discuss matters of faith. This was demonstrated earlier in the matter of Gov. Romney's speech about Mormonism. Many of the commentators and newscasters made themselves to look very ignorant on the topic. Nevertheless, they feel compelled to make comments and assessments. So much of the conversation makes it clear the writers/speakers know nothing about the dynamic of a church community. It is regarded in the same vane as the local sports club, local bridge group, or the local horse-shoe pitching club.

I think Barack Obama did nothing to remedy his dilemma in the speech. Rather, he brought more things into the discussion that may have been intended to diffuse the matter, spreading the discussion thinner so as to take the focus off the incendiary comments of Rev. Wright. His most attractive path would have been to distance himself from Wright. But, after 20 years of involvement, and many incidents of close relationship (e.g. marriage, baptisms), Obama couldn't do that without loosing credibility.

He brought a couple of new ideas to the scene, one of which is something called "black liberation theology." What is that to mean? I see nobody questioning this term. I suspect nobody wants to touch it, lest it expose some other track of thinking that could be inflammatory. Theology is the study and knowledge of God. The message of the Bible is liberation, there is little question. But, what makes such liberation unique to a particular race of people?

Secondly, Obama suggests that there is something unique about Christian expression in churches that are populated with blacks. To be sure, different folks with the same basic Christian beliefs have different expressions in worship. However, he does not explain how those expressions get from a biblical mandate of worship, to political talk. I see nothing of such expressions in the Bible.

Along those same lines, I hear nobody commenting on the biblical message of salvation by Rev. Wright. I do hear about the local body of Trinity doing community outreach, such as poverty programs. If Trinity is only about such programs, and messages that center on a political remedy of mankind, then the church has missed its calling. Why is there no discussion of this in the media?

One other point Obama made was the painting of "all are a victim." He cited people of all races, of all social strata, and different walks of life being a victim. This sounds like a page directly out of Oprah Winfrey's rhetoric, "... everybody is a victim, all we need to do is dig around and find what caused you to be a victim, what is the reason you are a victim, and then we can look for a source of what caused you to be a victim." The hypothesis of this thinking is "all are victims," but they may not know it, and it is for others to dig around to find why, and where the finger can be pointed. I find this thinking contrary to the message of Christianity. If somebody professes the Christian faith, then they are subscribing to the sovereignty of God. The ideas of a sovereign God, and "all are victims" are contrary to one another. Therefore, to hear somebody who claims to be part of Trinity Church, and yet speaks in another direction, leads me to wonder what is being taught.

I want to make one other point that pertains here, and one I made in other posts. When I hear the idea that what happens within the community of the Christian faith should have no bearing on a person's thinking and outworking of life, I am confused. So many commentators and writers seem to think that a codified belief system (e.g. Christian faith) has no place in the thought patterns of those in political office. How many times, "... keep your religion out of the office, keep your religion out of the hall of ( ), ..." do we hear/read this repeated. What Obama believes from his Christian faith, including what he hears and is taught within the boundaries of Trinity Church, has all kinds of influence on what he does as a political figure. If it does not, then he needs of separate himself from Trinity Church, separate himself from Christianity. To think otherwise is to deny the basic mandates of Christianity, "... be a follower of Christ."

We rarely hear any request for the humanist to check their belief system at the door when walking into the office, halls of ( ), or any other public place. We don't hear the same requirement for the secularist to do the same. If not, why not? Belief systems drive thinking of everybody. Nobody can claim neutrality. If the political candidates were neutral, they would stand for nothing, unable to make any decisions, unable to bring judgments to an issue.

March 19, 2008 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

I don't always agree with Roger, but he always brings something valuable to the discussion. Good points to ponder in this latest comment.

March 19, 2008 at 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no problem with people espressing their faith or using it as a guideline in public office. What I resent is having people foist their religion on others and then getting POd when the others don't subscribe to it. Believe what you like to believe, just don't expect to change the country to fit your mold.

March 19, 2008 at 12:22 PM  

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