So Carol over at Tribal Church and I have both been thinking about blogging and Jeremiah Wright, but stymied over the best blogging approach. Now that the furor had died down a bit, we’ve agreed to have a bit of a blogging back and forth, asking each other probing questions and reflecting with our brilliant wit – ok, well at least the first part. I’ll give my overall impression of Wright, and then the questions.
In many ways, Wright speaks out of a theological perspective that speaks to me. Jesus delivered people from oppression. He did not lead folks to financial prosperity, nor to easy answers, nor to cuddle up to corrupt systems. Jeremiah Wright gets this, so my initial thoughts on the controversy were that Wright was being slammed unfairly by the media in a slow news week.
Did you notice how seldom the media refers to him as “The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright?” Did you notice how one sermon was taken out of context without regard for the rest of Wright’s ministry? Did you notice how his service in the US Marines is seldom mentioned? These complexities make it easier for the media to portray Wright stereotypically rather than with complexity. The stereotype was one with which many Americans have great difficulty: un-educated rabble-rousing preacher, anti-American, angry black man.
Anyone who knows anything about Wright’s church knows this stereotype is a sad indictment of religious, racial, and political dialog in America.
So when Wright went public a few weeks ago, initially I was cautiously optimistic that he would transcend these stereotypes and heighten the level of conversation. I watched Bill Moyers interview, and thought this might be the case. I watched the Detroit NAACP speech, and got a bit worried. I watched the National Press Corps presentation – especially the Q and A – and knew the moral high ground was lost, as was any salvageable credibility, forever.
So here’s my first question to Carol:
With our current media situation, can we in America have a responsible public conversation on race, religion, and politics or are we destined to the lowest common denominator of ten-second sound-bites?
I’ll post an answer soon…