I've been holding my tongue about this whole Jeremiah Wright business: the anti-American statements, the abundance of racially-ignorant remarks and, the most recent development, Wright's press conference, wherein he stated that the attack was not "and attack on Jeremiah Wright, [rather] an attack on the black church." I wouldn't be writing but for that last statement, so here we go.
It is certainly true that the black church in America is diverse, well-attended, yet widely misunderstood as far as their "church mission" as a whole is concerned. Some black ministers, like Wright, would have you believe that the church's role is to finger-wag at the government's misleading statements, while giving little regard to their own. Others, that racial reconciliation is the key to our salvation. Still others, becoming more rare especially in urban areas, are those churches that simply preach the gospel (or at least part of it), straight from the Bible.
Whose church is succeeding in their unregenerate-reaching attempts? It's hard to say, but that's not the point of this discussion. The real question is, which is more important: maintaining allegiance to the "black church" (and all its foibles and confusions of what that means, particularly in terms of race itself and what is expected- of black people by both black and white people) or preaching the gospel of Christ? Simply put, do we need reconciliation to each other, or reconciliation to God?
If you ask Rev. Wright, he might say the former, or perhaps an increasingly distressing version of it: white people need to be reconciled to black. And the majority of chutzpah-claiming media isn't doing much more than tiptoe around this issue, making mildly affirmative statements about the importance of racial dialogue and the dangers of dismissing Wright altogether.
Sorry? When did the pulpit become a place for anyone- and I mean anyone - to mar and manipulate their audience for whatever personal, anti-Biblical purposes they desire, all in the name of Christ? Where in the Bible does God proclaim anyone to be not only eligible for, but entitled to His favor?
Wait. I forgot for a moment that, yes, I do live in a theological fantasy land. I actually believe that pastors, preachers, ministers and reverends take seriously the responsibility they have to teach the Word, encourage their congregants to think outside of themselves (remember that ol' pearl of wisdom to love your neighbor as yourself?) and not make every single issue of the church one that relates to their personal circumstances.
Let's go back to Wright's statement about this being an attack on the black church. He'd like to think so; that claim serves to properly admonish those who have anything to say against him or his anti-Christian sentiments, putting all of us into a neat little racist package. But unfortunately for him, the statement neither speaks to those of us not plagued by white guilt, nor is it true.
Now, I understand that Rev. Wright is angry about the treatment- from various sources in our country, including the government- of black people. I do not doubt his sincerity and I am sincerely angry, too, about welfare programs, drugs in the inner city, bad schools and the heinously violent acts black people commit against each other. All these problems I consider to be both intrapersonal (existing within the individual mind) and interpersonal (occurring between persons), and furthermore are in total a dilemma we as a nation need to resolve.
But I am also angry that the Rev. Wright does not appear to see the link between the disintegration of the black American family and the compromises with the secular world that the black church has made. The black church "does it a different way," Wright has said. In fact, they have let the secular world influence what was, at a time, a very orthodox example of the Christian faith in the very same way the white Christian church in America has.
They (the black church in America) has let entertainment (over the top worship and music), celebrity attendants (Obama, for one, not to mention all those guest soloists), pride in one's own knowledge, charismatic (but untrained) worship leaders, and, worst of all, the sense of entitlement (so readily served up in humanistic circles everywhere) infest and destroy the real community they once had.
What does that have to do with the black American family? Everything. How entertaining is to stay home and take care of the children you helped create? Booooring. Is it more preferable to rely on how you feel about God, other people and yourself, rather than how you ought to relate to them? Absolutely! Isn't it easier to let someone else read the Word and tell you what it says rather than read it yourself, studying intently? Sheesh, studying is for squares. And after all, isn't it your right to take all this or leave it because everyone else should have to change to suit your needs/desires? They want change? They can do it themselves.
I always go too far with my assumptions, so let's keep it simple. My pastor says, "Call it what it is: sin is sin is sin." Pride is sin. Feeling entitled is sin. Worshipping false idols is sin. And, most importantly, having an unrepentant heart is sin. And that's as common to black people, and Jeremiah Wright in particular, as to every other person on the planet.