So this is what Barack Obama's former pastor thinks is appropriate for Christmas Day service...

For good measure, he also said (screamed), "God D--- America."

Here are some transcripts.
  1. Despite Wright's assertion that Barack Obama "ain't rich," Barack Obama makes over a million dollars a year. Does that count as rich?
  2. Despite Wright's assertion that Barack Obama "ain't white," he is half-white; his mother is from Kansas. Furthermore, his father, Barack Obama, Sr., is actually of Arab descent. So Barack Obama ain't black, either.
  3. Does Rev. Wright truly think it appropriate to compare one of his parishioners to Jesus?
  4. Could Rev. Wright not find a better topic for his Christmas service than Barack Obama? Like, I don't know, Jesus?
  5. Barack Obama has attended Rev. Wright's church (which, amid its "struggle" to end racism in the United States, has ironically chosen for its logo a cross superimposed over Africa) for twenty years. He says he strongly disagrees with Rev. Wright's statements. Then why attend his church? Are there no other churches in Chicago for Senator Obama to attend? Why choose the one in which people applaud when the pastor says "God Damn America"?
  6. This man married Barack and Michelle Obama. Do people normally choose insane bigots with whom they "strongly disagree" to marry them?
  7. Does Rev. Wright seriously think Hillary Clinton (who, by all accounts, is female) "fits the mold"? Is he completely unaware of the women's rights movement?
  8. Rev. Wright, if you dislike America so much, why not move to Liberia?
  9. Rev. Wright, is it necessary to use phrases like "ridin' dirty" in your sermons?
  10. Rev. Wright, do you really think the government created AIDS to kill black people?
  11. Jesus is black? Has the reverend ever seen a Jewish person before? Would he like Jesus as much if he were white and born rich?
  12. Pearl Harbor was made up by the government, too?
  13. The "US of KKKA." Um...which century does he think this is?
  14. Does Louis Farrakhan really need a lifetime achievement award from you?
This truly frustrates me.


Spaceman Spiff said...

Man, reading what the stuff from Rush's site (I didn't watch the video) I actually thought, man I wish Obama did agree with this stuff. I wish we had a president who could take seriously the guilt that this country has brought on itself, and recognize just how evil and foolish it is for us to say "God bless America" when have helped oppress so many.

I don't think "God Damn America" is all that far off from what Amos said to Israel and Judah in his day, or Jesus to the Pharisees and teacher's of the Law in his day. And I don't think it's far off from what they'd say to us today.

Anyway I think when Obama says he disagrees with Wright's statements, he is probably talking about the "God Damn America" statement, but hopefully not the biblical commitment to social justice that lies behind it, as well as Wright's statements about Hillary having an advantage. None of this would mean he should leave the dude's church.

Anyway, this is another case where I think though Wright has said some crazy things, his overall viewpoint should get a better hearing. For example, when he says Obama "ain't rich" in a comparison with Hillary, you can imagine he means... in comparison with Hillary, and that Obama did not grow up rich.

Anyway, the fact is, most people will react negatively to this because they equate patriotism with Christianity, and that is far more "pathetic" than any of the things you mentioned here.

Speaker for the Dead said...

Well, let me clarify.

In one sense, I DO agree with Wright. (Gasp!) I agree with Ron Paul, who made the cogent point that our actions have contributed somewhat to terrorist acts such as 9/11.

The thing is, even if we HAVE oppressed so many, we still have liberated more people than any other country in history. We could obviously do more, but if you're going to "damn" America, you're going to damn basically everybody. And Jesus wouldn't call out America specifically, because we are not (despite our popular belief) the chosen people. It is our status as wealthy people entrusted with God's Word, not our status as Americans, that condemns us.

Furthermore, I strongly disagree that equating patriotism with Christianity is far more pathetic. Like it or not, America is the last nominally Christian nation with any great influence, and culturally speaking, we are fighting a war with a much more secular world. So I don't mind at all protecting America's interests in that regard.

Would Wright have preferred allowing Hitler free reign? Or a full-scale invasion of Japan? It's really myopic.

Hillary Clinton is a woman, and that has cost her much more politically than Obama's pseudo-African-American identity has cost him. And Obama sure is rich in comparison with the average member of the Trinity United Church of Christ...

Um, if Obama says he disagrees so strongly with this guy, then he SHOULD leave the church. He NEVER would be at a pro-life church or something like that, because he would disagree, so it's obvious that he's much more comfortable with this black paranoia (that's what it is) than he wants to admit. And that duplicity really bothers me. Plus, the fact that everyone in that congregation was applauding was just silly.

Spaceman Spiff said...

You'll notice that I said that is what Jesus would say to us which has nothing to do with any chosen nation status or calling us out specifically among the nations. That just misses my point, which is that there's nothing wrong with Wright's statement as a preacher, biblically speaking.

And in this case it seems to me any honest appraisal of our history must support Wright's statement, even if it isn't politically expedient for a presidential candidate to get behind it.

I just don't think this triumphalism is very honest. The fact is, just about everything we have done has been self-interested. Politically and economically expedient, and nothing more. There is no nobility in that.

It's ridiculous to say that "damning" the US would be damning everybody. That may be a nice story to tell ourselves in a Reaganomics kind of way, but theologically speaking it's just arrogant. If God is the God of history (and I think the prophets would say he is) then God is perfectly capable of judging us while blessing everyone else.

And I don't see how you can say that America is "nominally Christian." What does that even mean? We're simply not a Christian nation in any sense. We never ever have been. And even if we were, do you think God needs our position of power to do his work? Of course he doesn't.

And as you yourself has noted, Christianity is growing much more in places that are not the US. So what sense does it make to put the US at the forefront of this "culture war"? Who is this culture war with? It's with ourselves and every other late-capitalist nation. The world at large doesn't need our help figuring out religion. On the contrary, we need their help with religion, and specifically to learn how to repent of our greed.

As to whether Wright is advocating "black paranoia", well, I don't feel like either of us is well equipped to really assess that. But from where this privileged white boy sits, it ain't. It is pretty clear that the Democratic party has taken the black vote for granted, which I think is what he was referring to with Bill Clinton. Wanting a representative who has experienced being black in this country is not such a crazy thing (and whatever you say about his parents' ethnicity is a red herring, since you have to admit that you would assume he's black if you saw him, which means people have treated him as black, which means he knows what it's like...).

And again, if Obama agrees with Wright's general theological and political position but just disagrees with him on 2 things having to do with the current presidential election and the statement "God Damn America", well, I think it makes much more sense just to take him off the campaign rather than leave his church.

Heck, if I was running for President, and my preacher said some stuff to the effect that my opponent had significant advantages, I'd probably disagree too, but I wouldn't leave the church.

And if he made an extreme statement like "God Damn America", well I'd have two options: 1) try to give an explanation of what that meant, i.e. that we want God to bless us by judging us so we'll repent, or 2) say I disagreed with the sentiment, since I do disagree with what people are hearing which is that he actually wants God to send America to hell. I'd probably have to go with number 2, and remove him from the campaign. But I wouldn't leave his church.

Look, I'm not saying you have to agree with the guy. But you can't write him off like this. Heck I'd probably have said the same things at your age. But I think there's more to it than you're allowing.

Speaker for the Dead said...

Well, let's distinguish between two things.

(At least part of the confusion lies in the difference between "America" and "Americans." And I'm not sure whether or not you can blame America's actions on Americans...)

Wright wants God to damn America because of the three-strike law (which he believes to be racist) and AIDS (which he believes was created to kill black people). Which is, of course, stupid. Furthermore, to focus on politics and race in ANY sermon, especially on Christmas Day, is not good.

But would God want to damn America? Is America sinful? Of course we're sinful - but it's not like we're loads worse than other countries.

Obviously, America has acted within its own self-interests. If it hadn't, it wouldn't exist. Israel sure acted within its own self-interests, and I don't think God expected non-chosen nations to act contrary to their interests. We should, however, respect the interests of others, and we haven't always done that.

The simple truth is that Christianity (and humanity) would not have thrived as they have without America.

I will never for a second believe Obama has been more hampered by his race than Hillary by her sex, especially in this election. And Obama was raised in Hawaii (by white people), which isn't exactly the bedrock of racism, so I doubt anyone called him n----- there. He could pass as Polynesian...

America is nominally Christian because a majority of Americans say they are Christian. Does God need our position of power? No. But there's no reason to bequeath it to China.

Why put the US at the forefront of this culture war? Well, our country has been a main impetus behind the growth of Christianity abroad, and we have influence.

The rest of the world is just as greedy as we are; we've just been more successful about it. I don't know if that makes us more sinful.

I feel I'm at least as able to judge Wright's black paranoia as he is to condemn rich white people.

My main problem isn't the theology behind "God Damn America." Of course we're greedy, powerful and imperialistic. There is obviously something wrong with the American way of life. But...

1. Obama would never be found at a pro-life church...yet he is surprisingly cozy here. Which means this matters less to his supporters than being pro-life would.
2. His supporters, besides naive youths and blacks, are crazy people who want a progressive, humanistic, global government.
3. The worst thing in the world for religion is a progressive, humanistic, global government.
4. Obama is using religion as political leverage. Which sucks.
5. Does this sound like the unifying message people have ascribed to Obama?
6. Making capitalistic people generous is the way to fix greed and poverty. Communism has a poor track record.
7. Wright is incredibly racist. He's basically saying "God Damn the White People Who Did Things Blacks Would Never Do."
8. Jeremiah Wright probably makes people WANT to be racist, and only exacerbates racial tension in the United States.
9. EVERYONE APPLAUDED. THIS IS HOW THEY ALL THINK. So I doubt Obama is like this lone dissenter in the congregation.

Spaceman Spiff said...

While you say the whole world is just as greed, we're just better at it, the Bible over and over seems to favor the poor and blame the rich. Again, a nice story to tell ourselves, but ultimately it does nothing to exonerate us from guilt.

You also say if the US wouldn't act with complete self-interest, it wouldn't exist, and that God wouldn't expect a "non-chosen nation" (which is a very strange thing to call a nation which you call "nominally Christian"... wouldn't that mean "nominally chosen"?) to act for other people.

I think this must be tied to your distinction between a nation and the people of that nation. But I have to ask what is meant by "America" if not "Americans" (at least when we're talking about America doing things?)

In any case we can agree that individuals are called to act not out of their own interest but in the interests of others. So I'm not sure how a nation gets off the hook. By the way, look again at Amos, or Exodus, or the New Testament vis-a-vis Rome, and I think you'll see that our God is quite prone to judge "non-chosen" nations.

Can we also note that you brought up our nation's powerful status as reason why God couldn't judge us without judging everyone else. My point still stands, God does not need us to bless anyone else. I never suggested "bequeathing it to China", but I think good ole' capitalism is on its way to doing that for us.

I am not convinced that Wright is racist, even if he's a bit cooky. And note I never claimed that Obama's race has hurt him more than Clinton's gender (I really wouldn't know how to begin deciding that). I don't think Obama agrees with that either.

And I don't think it's fair to say that OBAMA is leveraging religion for political advantage here, even if Wright is (which I'm also not sure about). I think for these folks religion and politics are not disconnected (nor has it ever been for anyone really).

It's unfair for you to simply assert that they want a "humanistic" government. To say that is to ignore the rich theological grounding for a concern with socially just policies, and to accept a platonistic dualism with regards to the human and the divine.

Speaker for the Dead said...


Obviously, Americans are greedy. Obviously, there is something wrong with their lifestyle. You know that I don't like America's hedonism any more than you (or Jeremiah Wright). But in spite of all that, I can't think of a nation that has done more for humanity than this one. And America's African-Americans have bought into our culture just as much as its white Americans, so the racial component of Wright's statements.

What's the difference between American and Americans? Americans don't always approve of what America does; in fact, they hardly ever even KNOW the truth about what America is doing.

Yes, God judged Rome...but did you hear Paul making racist comments about Romans? Or saying, "God Damn Rome"?

Good luck phasing out capitalism is all I can say.

I don't know how Wright couldn't be called a racist. The US of KKKA?

If religion and politics aren't disconnected, you think Obama would have been more concerned with political statements he "strongly disagreed with"...

You NEVER would see Obama at a pro-life or "anti-gay" church, but you WOULD see him at an Afrocentric church. I don't see how that fact can be avoided.

It's interesting to study the emphases of different Christian denominations. What I've noticed is that churches that overly concern themselves with social justice (i.e., "the things of this world") end up not caring about theology and doctrine.

Perhaps unknowingly and unwillingly, Wright and Obama are buying into the secularizing, globalizing, humanizing trends of this world. So I understand how you might be weary of the "patriotic Christian" ideology, but I don't mind it much at all, because it's losing out to this far worse humanistic ideology that is infecting America's churches.

So my main point wasn't even that Wright was wrong. It's that Obama HAD to be influenced somehow by this guy, that he's being duplicitous about it, and that this sort of racism would not be tolerated from whites.