Friday, March 21, 2008

Jeremiah Wright's Context

I've got to say, he sermon tracked very closely to the one I preached the sunday after 9/11.

13 comments:

adept2u said...

The most disappointing thing about the Rev. Wright incident is the complete failure of our news media. I was familiar with Wrights preaching before the brouhaha, so when it happened I was truly puzzled. How could anyone draw an opinion of a mans, and especially a pastors words with just a 10 second sound bite, and from that sound bite draw the conclusion that the speaker is hateful, or a racist. I knew then that no one who did actually had seen or read a Wright sermon.

What was insidious about the Rev. Wright story is that every report of those videos on TV, and in the reports of print media the description of the sermons as hateful etc were repeated over and over again. Many Americans view the reports of the media as actual truth. So regardless now of the actual context and meaning of his words he will be forever thought of as hateful and the career of a stalwart man of God is forever sullied.

That should disturb me, but I think I can estimate the heart of the Rev Wright. If only one soul is saved by hearing more than just 10 seconds of the word of God he will consider the condemnation worth it. That the storm over his sermon led to Obama’s speech on race he would consider a blessing.

These so called responsible journalist and not just those who represent the right wing owe both the American people and the Rev. Wright an apology, and the pledge to refrain from viral journalism.

Erik said...

wow...I'm a bit floored......



BC and AD, what a bigot!!

(but seriously, that's some beautiful preaching, a friend posted a gorgeous good friday sermon of his today, an impressive preacher.)

Judah Himango said...

I don't get it. Psalm 137 is putting the killing of Babylonians, even their infants, in a positive light because of their cruelty to God's people. Is he saying the psalmist in wrong for speaking this?

We must ask ourselves, if there is real evil, should we not hate it? Fight it? Rebel against it?

I think the problem here is that Christians too often look at all forms of violence as wrong. We forget that there is such a thing as righteous anger, like that of the Levites after the golden calf. Or the anger and violence of the Messiah when he found commerce in the Temple. Or God's own righteous anger and judgement against the people of S'dom and G'morah.

This sermon seems to be the by-product of a culture that, being flooded with multi-culturalism and "many paths to God" kind of thinking, is left with no real right and wrong.

What do you think, Wezlo?

Judah Himango said...

Also, I wonder if it was intentional that Rev. Wright stopped himself before finishing the citation of Psalm 137, when he said,

"May my right hand forget it's cunning, if I forget you, O Jeru ---" [cut off]

Heheh, maybe a coincidence, but how ironic! :-) The Rev. Wright himself has not only forgotten Jerusalem, but is now one of its most derisive critics!

After listening to more of his sermonds, I've discovered the man Wright is an anti-Israel critic who conveniently ignores the acts of the Islamic extremists over in my land and instead chooses to focus on the peril of the Palestinian families supporting deliberately murdering our Israeli kids in our Yeshivas.

I would feel pity for these Palestinian families if they weren't supporting the attacks, if they weren't using their children as shields, if they weren't using hateful propaganda to brainwash their children, if they didn't support the destruction of Israel and the Jews within, if they weren't living on the land God gave to my people as an eternal covenant.

Rev. Wright's ignorant comments on Israel and the Palestinians makes me utterly sick. I'm disgusted by his take on it, as well as his western, gentile doctrine of "all violence/anger/hate is wrong", "let's all get along", "many paths to God" peace-at-any-cost crap we've been spoon-fed for the last few decades.

Shame on the fools who equate the deliberate murder of children with the acts of a nation against those who perpetrated the murders.

wezlo said...

I think you're dead wrong Judah. Sorry. Yes, the author of that particular psalm was speaking from the depths of his soul - an anger that we all feel at one point or another - and yet, yes, he's wrong. It's part of the human experience out of which we cry out to God, and yet the ministry of Jesus repudiates it with his "turn the other cheek" teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.

Once Jesus arrives on the scene, the world changes fundamentally. Apparently, God worked through the rules of violence we thought up for years and years and years and years - until Jesus subverted those rules in order to put an end to them in his people - I wish we would have gotten the point.

I wish there were more Christians who looked at violence as wrong, all I see are the violence-mongers who gleefully see "us" in white hats, and those who are "not us" in black hats - frankly, they terrify me.

Judah Himango said...

According to your theology, the psalmist is wrong. I disagree, obviously. But I prefer clarity to agreement.

Let me ask you a related question: how do you reconcile that theology with the knowledge that God spoke through the prophets in Scripture confirming the destruction of Babylon and Edom, the very things the psalmist prayed for?

Wezlo, any fool can see there are times when violence is the answer, and that there is such a thing as righteous anger. Were it not so, we would then have to admit that the righteous men of Scripture including Josiah, David, Solomon, Messiah, Moses, Abraham, to name a few, were all wrong in their acts of righteous anger and violence.

I will concede to you that violence is too often the incorrect answer. But I'm rebuking the foolish notion that violence is never the answer. I don't see another feasible answer to Nazi Germany, for example, do you?

Once Jesus arrives on the scene, the world changes fundamentally.

I must admit, Wezlo, Christians have told me that so many times, it's become a complete cliché to me, another empty religious mantra.

I always respond back with the same answer: Jesus' coming did not cancel or rescind a single promise God made to Israel. You, as a Protestant pastor, should know this. Had Messiah canceled God's promises to Israel, Torah and the prophets could call him Messiah.

I wish there were more Christians who looked at violence as wrong, all I see are the violence-mongers who gleefully see "us" in white hats, and those who are "not us" in black hats - frankly, they terrify me.

I want peace more than anything. As a Jew with friends and family in Israel, this has more meaning and more importance and with more at stake, perhaps, than yourself. I pray for the peace of Jerusalem constantly.

Just this morning, I received an email from a friend in Israel. Their daughter goes to school in Israel with a Messianic boy, 15 year old, who last week picked up a package meant for his father. The package exploded and the poor kid is in ICU right now, critical. This kind of thing makes me sick and sad at the same time. I don't want violence, I don't want this kind of thing to happen. I'd much rather have peace than hear about friends being maimed by nail-filled pipe bombs.

The part you guys are wrong about is this: peace at any cost. Sometimes peace must be achieved by defeating evil. When evil is left to fester, any achieved peace is temporary and only serves to allow the evil to grow permanent.

The false peace being imposed on Israel and the Palestinians is such a peace, and is why there hasn't been permanent peace there since Israel's re-founding 60 years ago.

"Turn the other cheek" is a great philosophy for personal relationships. Yet surely it isn't meant for letting evil take over, no? Had not the United States and Great Britain stepped in during the Second World War, millions more of my people would have died, for example.

Letting evil have its way is an evil act in itself. Heck, a wise man once said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." I cannot help but think this is not what Messiah had in mind when he said, "Turn the other cheek."

wezlo said...
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wezlo said...

Judah, that's exactly the context of the NT when Jesus said it. He was living under an occupying, and frequently brutal, army - alongside the remnants of a "royal" family that was as nuts as the romans were violent.

And, by the measure you are apparently using, Jesus in that very desperate time, "did nothing."

And please don't just pop in out of nowhere and start spouting "you guys." And "peace at any cost." You have no idea who I am, nor what I preach - I have never uttered this phrase, and nor to I believe it, leaving a power vacuum in place of a mess we created blesses no one.

You're "they did this to us" story is tragic - so's the creation of "settlements" on land that's been occupied by people for...centuries, and rocket attacks which kill kids.

Suicide bombers are evil, rocket attacks in civilian population centers are evil - both sides seem to think that they're perfectly justified in their actions.

This sounds eerily familiar to me. Oh yes, it's fantastically similar to the world in which Jesus told the people who weren't in power to "turn the other cheek" as a way of demonstrating the reality of his kingdom.

Did you come here for some reason other than just trying to pick a fight?

Judah Himango said...

And please don't just pop in out of nowhere and start spouting "you guys." And "peace at any cost." You have no idea who I am, nor what I preach - I have never uttered this phrase, and nor to I believe it, leaving a power vacuum in place of a mess we created blesses no one.

You're right, I apologize. I guess I was responding to the Reverend's sermon and your defense of it and I got caught up in the moment. My apologies.

So's the creation of "settlements" on land that's been occupied by people for...centuries, and rocket attacks which kill kids.

Wezlo, God gave my people this land as an eternal covenant. It says that very thing in our Scriptures. God also commanded us to drive out the inhabitants of the land, lest they be a thorn in our sides. You're ignoring the Scripture pertaining to this in an attempt to justify a new peacenik mantra of gentile Christianity.

Suicide bombers are evil, rocket attacks in civilian population centers are evil

This western view of, "oh, everyone's equally wrong" is a ignorant view, Wezlo. Are you taking that stance?

Israel's attacks are on folks launching missiles or carrying out attacks on Israel. We don't randomly kill civilian Palestinians. Yes, civilians often die -- it's a damn shame -- as civilians are bound to in any war, but that is not the intent.

By contrast, the Islamic nutjob that walked into a Yeshiva the other week opened fire on every kid he could find. His intent was to kill everyone he could. And when he was finally killed, the Palestinians were celebrating in the streets, handing out candy, and singing songs because 8 Jewish kids -- kids! -- were murdered.

What foolish moral principle would disregard intent and equate those people with Israel!

Not only is intent ignored, but also the greater question of good and evil. Instead, there is no real right and wrong; sympathy is given by looking through a microscope to see which side is suffering more, and which side has lost more civilians.

Foolish gentiles.

If that were the only litmus test for good and evil, your Allies would be the evil ones in WWII.

Yet here you stand, equating Israel and the Islamic extremist Palestinians suicide bombers. And what impractical moral lesson do you have to teach us? Turn the other cheek? Let this guy shoot more kids? Insanity. That is not what the Messiah had in mind, yet by your assertions, you make him out to be a fool. Yet another reason why Jews, by and large, can't take Jesus seriously: foolish western gentile doctrine.

And, by the measure you are apparently using, Jesus in that very desperate time, "did nothing."

He did plenty, including harsh words and violence towards what was evil. When he saw the commerce in the Temple, he didn't turn the other cheek and tell them to setup a casino. That's an abuse of "turn the other cheek", an abuse you seem to be espousing. Are you?

rocket attacks in civilian population centers are evil

You do realize the group doing the majority of rocket attacks is not Israel, yes? The town of Sderot is getting hit almost daily by Qassam rockets fired from the nutjobs running Gaza. As of 2007, 6,311 rockets have landed on the homes in that town.

Did you come here for some reason other than just trying to pick a fight?

Wezlo, I don't mean to fight, my apologies if it comes across that way. I'm here to debate things you, the other posters, and the Reverend are speaking. If your post wasn't open for critical thinking and debate, you may as well disable comments. :-)

I enjoy debating this stuff. It sharpens our knowledge of Scripture and makes us question our theology. So I'll ask again,

Are there such things as righteous anger and righteous violence?

You also ignored the question regarding the psalmist: since you believe the author of Psalm 137 was wrong in praying for the destruction of Babylon and Edom, why did God speak through the prophets confirming their destruction?

As they remain unanswered, one is left to believe your theology is baseless and does not stand up to critical thinking. If your theology has merits, I'd like to understand it.

wezlo said...
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wezlo said...

As I just find myself having to delete two responses to this thread, I do need to step aside from it. I'm being ungenerous, pissy, and embarrassed by how I'm responding.

Judah, this is not a debate forum. If you want to prove how "right" you are, please do so elsewhere. If you want to say, "Here's where I'm coming from one this" that's another matter. I have not seen you doing this, only tossing out one label after another and grouping me with a view that is, frankly, not mine. Pathetically, I've sunk to a similar level (I've never deleted posts on this blog before, it is embarrassing to have to do so). I used to be better at this .

Judah Himango said...

Ah, I see in the process of posting that, you had deleted your other comments.

You said in your replacement comment this isn't the place to debate.

Really?

Comments to a blog post with some admittedly controversial ideas in it seem like the perfect place to engage in a debate, as long as the debate does not devolve into name-calling.

If one's ideas are not open to criticism and debate, again, I question why have comments.

grouping me with a view that is, frankly, not mine

I realize I've lumped you in with some views you don't espouse: once I got caught up in the moment, and another I believed because your comments suggested it. I've apologized for those, and I hope you accept those apologies as a brother in Messiah.

Well, I guess if you don't want debate, I can honor your request, this is your blog after all. I guess I'll just have to wait for the new Christdot. ;-)

wezlo said...

as your last post was in response to a post I deleted, I deleted it - kinda like the Llama people in the Search for the Holy Grail.

I will answer the idea of "righteous violence." I believe, for Christ's followers - that "righteous violence" is entirely in the hands of God. I also believe that there are moments in time when God uses the evil and fallen structures of this world for the purposes of his will. I do not believe this means that Christians are free to participate in such actions - we are called to go about our calling using different means, for the battle is not "against flesh and blood."

Our means are: service, kindness, forgiveness, love, mercy, and self-sacrifice. We can do these things because we believe that Christ has conquered death, and therefor have no fear of it. The resurrection is the lense of our hope as we pray for the full manifestation of a kingdom that is "not of this world."

This is where I stand. You may not like it, nor agree with it. But it is neither baseless or untenable - it is the way of the Cross and of the Messiah who healed the ear of a man who came to hand him over to suffering and death.

And with that, comments are closed.