Obama, His Church, And One Blogger’s Opinion

First off Matt is a jerk.

Second off I do not want to be a complete Obama apologist here, but it is worth noting that he has already strongly condemned the hateful words and language that Wright used. Everyone should keep this in mind when we think about how the Wright scandal should effect our view of Obama. He has even gone so far as to say that if Wright was still the pastor at his church he would leave. What more do you want from the guy?

As I mentioned previously I really think the speech that Obama wrote and delivered a couple of weeks ago on race showed that he is possibly the first candidate in recent memory that is willing to speak to his fellow citizens like adults. The things he said in the speech were really not new to anyone who has even somewhat paid attention to the race thermostat in American culture, but they were honest words about a serious problem that politicians tend to wax right over, and patronize all of us with the silly notion that America solved its racism problem with MLK. Here is the speech which all of you should watch if you really want to get a good understanding of Obama and his views on race and theology. I might even go so far as to admonish those of us who are too often tempted to make quick assessments from soundbytes on the local news, regardless of how provactive and explosive they may be. As Christian, there is nothing I hate more than someone who will criticize Christianity, not have a clue what they are talking about, and be totally unwilling to learn or investigate and challenge their stereotypes and assumptions. Sure it may take a little work to truly listen to people and read more than just press clippings but so does anything in life that is worthwhile.

Once again I am not comfortable at all with the words Dr. Wright used, nor is Senator Obama, but as I have tried to point out here already, I understand their source and how anger has deeply distorted his theology.

Let me wade into speculation for a moment here, even though I might regret it. Obama is a politician who was a community organizer in the city of Chicago. He obviously had a deep abiding love and concern for the poor minorities who struggled mightily in his neighborhood. In many of these communities like the one Obama found himself in, the church is the galvanizing force for social good and community change. Often in black lower income areas, the church is seen not just as the dispenser of Christian knowledge, spiritual health and a little life coaching; but also a place of job training, addiction recovery, a rallying point for social injustices, and much more. This inevitably leads to situations in which many of these churches go to far and blur the lines of politics and religion in the pulpit, but then again the Moral Majority and other white prominent Christian leaders have done this also. With all of that said, I might even speculate that Obama, who had the opportunity to join the upper elite of society coming out of Harvard Law, was attracted to the James 1, Matt. 25 social justice ethic of Pastor Wright’s church more than anything else. This is not to discredit Obama’s faith in anyway but all of us choose our churches for various reasons and a major one is the community of people, sometimes this pull is even greater than the theology of the church or its leaders.

If anything I hope that this entire fiasco has gotten the race conversation going again in America, as Obama mentions in his speech. There is still deep rooted resentment and ignorance on both sides of the racial divide here in America. I am fully satisfied with the condemnation Obama made of Wright’s remarks and believe that he does not personally ascribe to a black liberation theology. Just like many people who sit in a methodist church, or reformed church, or baptist church, probably could not tell me the finer distinctives of their denomination and theology. So given that the choice will likely be between Obama and McCain I find myself still leaning toward Obama, but open to voting for McCain. Because issues such as a

1. A futile 1,000,000,000,000,000 war in Iraq is mind-boggling to me especially since we are funding the building of infrastructure for another nation while ours is crumbling.

2. Tax Cuts: McCain going against his original conviction that a massive tax cut for people making 200,000 a year or more is a stupid idea when it will force you to run a deficit, and pass debt onto future generations that do not even get to have a say. The whole tax cut idea is classic trickle down economics. The only problem with trickle down economics is the rich people tend not not let money trickle down very often, that is why they are rich. Plus if we reversed this tax cut our national budget would no longer be in deficit and we would be able to provide health care for all. So ask yourself, is giving money to people who already have a lot of it more important then health care for all, and a balanced budget? Not in my opinion.

3. The environment: While McCain is a pretty green Republican, he still is against Kyoto and would likely do little to advance the agenda of being independent of overseas oil.

4. Health Care: Even though over 59% of doctors surveyed this last week said they were in favor of some legislation that would bring health care costs under control, Republicans want to continue to think health savings accounts, and tax cuts are enough to solve the problem. Well in a nation that has over 40 million people uninsured and costs that are drastically outracing inflation that is a joke. So while I am not a full on universal health care guy (I think regulation is the best avenue to go) Obama at least has a plan so that health care is not for some, but for all who want it.

So these major reasons still have me leaning for Obama. Of course there are many things I think McCain would be better on I just think these major issues are best answered by Obama. But as Adam said I will probably vote holding my nose come November.

There now I cannot be accused of dodging the question anymore. And Matt is not a jerk just very observant.



8 Responses

  1. Obama’s condemning of Wright’s hateful message is discredited by his attendance and monetary donations. If I attended Joel Osteen’s church and gave faithfully there for 20 years and made one speech condemning Joel’s gospel as false, which one would hold more weight. Sure it’s a great speech, but it is dwarfed by many years of support. And why have we not mentioned how convenient it is that Wright has recently stepped down as pastor. Perhaps it is a great speech, but it doesn’t stand on it’s own, you have to consider the man who said it. This would be like me condemning some hateful things you said on this blog, three months after we took you off the blog to distance you from me, even though the things I was condemning were a constant on our blog for 20 years. I would look like a hypocrite. So great speech, if only it were given by someone that wasn’t being hypocritical in giving it.

    Douches and Turds — Douches and Turds

  2. The issue is far deeper than Rev. Wright. See:

  3. But I would still take him over Hillary. And yes I am about to link to a Christopher Hitchen’s article on Slate.com to help prove my point.

    Hitchen’s has a point

  4. Once again I would highlight that often people attend a church without understanding all the finer points of theology and political beliefs that church might hold. How many Catholics do you think are up to date on all the different and sometimes confusing doctrines of the Vatican? Not a lot. That is why I went out of my way to highlight the compelling reasons that might have drawn Obama to a church like Pastor Wright’s. And sometimes when we find a church that resonates with our deepest concerns we are blinded in looking at other areas that should matter.

    And if I remember correctly we had a phone conversation in which you said recently that you would be willing to overlook some important theological issues at a church, if some core values were in place and being fully lived out…

  5. “the finer points of theology…that a church might hold”

    Sorry Ryan, no pass on this one. Did the US govt invent the AIDS virus to kill black people? This is NOT a fine point of theology. (it is also not the only radical craziness spouted at that church) It was howled at the top of the lungs in front of 8000 people. If Obama missed this, than it is either because 1. you are right and it IS his deeply held conviction or 2. he is a moron or 3. he is very comfortable with crazy.

    I have more to say on your well written post, but I want to let anyone else that wants to get in on this do so first.

  6. And Matt…agreeing with Hitchens on anything always takes me back to junior high, when the idiot burnouts that failed a few grades would pick on some other nerdy kid….on the one hand, relief that someone else was getting shaken from behind while at the urinal; on the other hand, sympathy because I too had once had piss all over myself from a similar shaking.

  7. Are you responding to my comment Ryan? I am confused. I don’t remember mentioning the finer points of theology anywhere. Nor accusing anyone of not understanding the theological underpinnings of Rev. Wright’s former church.

    And for a point of clarification, I said I would be willing to overlook certain ecclesiological issues if a church was faithful to the historical reformed puritanical gospel like guys like Piper, Driscoll, Chandler, Dr.l McKinley and even Hyatt are.

  8. Matt I was responding to you. I was simply commenting that the money and time spent in the church by Obama do not make him automatically guilty, as you stated. That is why I pointed out how ignorant many people are in church, of what their church might actually believe.

    And while I appreciate your “for the record” comment, my point still stands, we all have reasons why we join churches or groups. Things that deep down are of the utter most importance that we must have. For you it is a gospel centered church, if that is in place you can budge on some other things. For Obama this was probably the social justice and community galvanizing factor. Comparison stands.

    Adam you are right, and I will make no attempt to explain Obama’s behavior in the face of such comments as AIDS being a white man’s conspiracy. Then again none of us have an attendance roster of which weekends Obama attended and what he heard and did not hear. Also we do not even really have any idea just to what level Obama was involved at the church, how often did he really attend? This is all speculation that I do not have the answer for, but I would say given what Obama says he will do on many political issues that I find to be of great importance I am still leaning toward voting for him.

    So go turd sandwich.

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