Friday, March 14, 2008

The Politics of Association

In the last 24 hours I heard Reverend Jeremiah Wright preach so much I feel like I need to tithe to his church, The Trinity United Church of Christ.

If, by some miracle (pun fully intended), you've missed the multiple replays of the last five years of Wright's sermons, Jeremiah Wright is the pastor of Barrack Obama's church and a man Obama credits for being his inspiration. Reverend Wright married Barrack and his lovely wife Michelle and baptised his children. I'm not going to bother to link to the many dozens of You Tube clips now available; you can easily find them if you actually have missed them.

So as I watched MSNBC, CNN and FOX turn into the Trinity Broadcasting Networks I meditated on the real responsibilities Obama might share for Wright's teaching and preaching.

Last week we watched the media and especially the blogosphere hound John McCain until he finally denounced ultra conservative Pastor John Hagee. And McCain never even attended Hagee's church. But earlier McCain had "welcomed" Hagee's endorsement.

As a Unitarian Universalist I've set through dozens (maybe hundreds) of sermons with which I disagree. Occasionally I've been deeply offended by the preacher. I wouldn't want to be judged by the words of the various ministers of my church. On the other hand, Unitarians have a unique concept, "freedom of the pulpit." Any speaker can speak from any religious (or atheistic or political) perspective.

So here is my view. We are not electing Jeremiah Wright President. I am deeply concerned about some of Wright's statements from the pulpit, but not from a Presidential politics perspective. I'll judge Barrack Obama from by his own words and his own actions, not by those of Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

The battle between Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton and John McCain is so tight and so intense it's bringing about a battle of details and nuances, relationships and associations instead of ideas and policies. That is tragic.

I was pleased to watch John McCain absolutely refuse to condemn Obama for the words of his pastor last night, in spite of intense pressure from reporters. Sadly, that won't stop MSNBC, CNN and FOX from endless replays and speculations. And it won't stop the Sean Hannity's and Rush Limbaugh's from exploiting Obama's relationship with his minister.


Vigilante said...

An excellent review of the issue, Wiz. I should have expected nothing less of you because you share my Unitarian-Universalism heritage. Everyone expects Obama to be severely tested by this issue, in public relations/political correctness perspective. I say this because I have a deep conviction that Obama will speak deeply tomorrow of his religious belief. And he will be able to renounce statements of Jeremiah Wright without denouncing the man or the greater balance of the man's life work. That's what I'm looking for Obama to be able to do tomorrow. Millions of Americans are hoping Kid-BHO to hit this swiftboating pitch outta the park.

Utah Savage said...

And he did hit it out of the park! Even the great bloviater himself, Chris Matthews called it the most important political address since Lincoln. To be followed tomorrow by a speech on Iraq, the day after, the economy. So where's a girl candidate gonna get a break, can't even get a word in edgewise. Hill did say today that she hadn't seen the speech, hadn't read the text, but she would when she could find the time.

I keep writing Howard Dean letters asking him in nicer language than this to get off his ass and Do SOMETHING! The DNC is begging for money for the General Election. I wrote Howard a letter saying I'm still giving money to my horse in this race and the party doesn't get a damn dime from me until this thing is over.

Stella said...

Hi, Wizard. I, too, am a Unitarian and, much as I would hate to see McBush win the election, I must agree with you about his refusal to condemn Wright.

Frankly, I don't know what the big issue is about what Wright had to say, other than Faux wants to make it a big issue because the network is the White House mouthpiece.

Accordingly, one can view this tempest in a teapot as perhaps the most fortuitous event to date in Obama's campaign: he articulated his convictions eloquently. As a result, he revealed the courage of his convictions—a critical quality for our next president who will need to clean up the mess from the past eight years.

BTW: "One candidate—Mike Gravel, the former senator from Alaska—is a UU.

Thanks for this great post.

Vigilante said...

Oh, really, Stella. Me Too! Yeah, the damnest thing now is that there's a GR8 U-U congregation in my new community, but Trophy Wife and I haven't agreed to join it. She loves the big organ and voices and the U.C.C.C. I'm not at all happy about being 'un-churched' this long. Out of balance, sort of.

Vigilante said...

Curiosity: Druze call themselves Unitarians

Druze Beliefs - Profoundly Monotheistic: Most monotheists believe in exoteric or literal meanings of their scriptures while some speak of esoteric or inner meanings. The mystical tradition in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity also attempts esoteric reading or interpretation of the scriptures. Druzes believe that both the Bible and the Qur’an have esoteric meanings in addition to the exoteric or literal ones. Moreover, Druzes also believe that above these two levels of meaning there is “the esoteric of the esoteric.” In Druze faith, there are prophets, helpers, and luminaries. Each fulfills a different function in achieving complete spirituality. For example, Druzes venerate the messages of prophets in the Judaeo-Christian and Islamic traditions, who preached the word of God in their respective lifetimes. Each prophet, according to Druzes, preached only a partial truth since humanity was not yet ready to receive the entire truth. However, underneath the exoteric truth lay the esoteric message. For each of these prophets, God provided a helper or assistant to propagate the doctrine of strict unitarianism and to interpret the esoteric nature of the message. For each period, Druzes argue there were also luminaries who taught these three levels of interpretations. The Druze doctrine contains rich examples outlining specific moral lessons and rules of individual and communal conduct that are found in approximately thirty manuscripts. Most scholars have mistakenly referred to only one single manuscript, The Epistles of Wisdom, as embodying the complete Druze scriptures. Some have included an additional two to three manuscripts. This writer has documented 23 manuscripts showing the impact and importance of each on Druze identity. For nearly 1,000 years, Druzes have preserved their beliefs and traditions as outlined in the manuscripts written between 1017-1043. Their doctrine and dualistic structure have persisted despite the changes that their community has undergone.