Posts Tagged ‘Jeremiah Wright’

June 11th, 2009

Civil religion, prophecy and Obama

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For some scholars, “religion” gives the social cohesion and moral purpose without which a merely self-interested and fragmenting liberalism could not survive. Others see how, at moments of crisis, figures like Lincoln—or now we might argue Obama—draw on biblical language to call a special nation to its higher and redemptive purpose, and thus name common purposes that mobilize nation-building or rebuilding. In 1968, Bellah linked civil religion not only to consensus but to dissent: he invoked the examples of William Lloyd Garrison and Eugene Debs to argue that critics of racism or empire must speak in widely resonant, biblical terms, or they risk cultural marginality and political impotence. Critics who do not invoke “any genuinely American pattern of values,” the “better instincts of American patriotism” or indeed “the deeper moral instincts of Americans,” he argues, will fail, and a corporate and imperial regime will continue to “undermine essential American values and constitutional order.”

June 3rd, 2008

The preacher and the politician

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The recent formal departure of Senator Barack Obama from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago will no doubt resurface a debate over Obama’s relation to Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Who could have predicted such volatility over race, faith, and justice in a campaign for the highest office in the land? The unprecedented introduction of race, religion, the black church, and black liberation theology into the presidential contest offers us an occasion to reflect on the role of the preacher, the politician, traditional race relations, and multicultural America. Obama and Wright exhibit this contrast.

May 19th, 2008

Obama, Wright, and Trinity

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The East Coast media establishment—both “conservatives” and “liberals”—continue to ask the same question about Senator Barack Obama: why did he keep his membership at Trinity United Church of Christ, where the Reverend Jeremiah Wright was the pastor? The question is asked as though Obama is naïve and Wright is a madman, neither of which is true. But what I find rather more amusing, or perhaps alarming—at least from a religious perspective—is that most of the media personalities who ask this question appear to have never belonged to any kind of religious community themselves. And this is, to a large extent, why there is so much misunderstanding about the relationship between Obama and Wright. […]