Monday, April 28, 2008

No, Sir, YOU are bombastic, and I wish this would all just go away

I work in Chicago and the village I live in touches the city limits, so I had heard of Trinity United Church of Christ before the Obama flap. One of my neighbors right here in this building worships there … the congregation was supportive in the sad search for Nailah Franklin … and my close friend John once worshipped there and left pretty fast. (His reasons are his own and I'm not going to explore them here.) The only person in these parts more famous than Obama -- one Ms. Oprah Winfrey -- also once worshipped at that church.

Because Jeremiah Wright is important in my neighborhood, and certainly important to my Party and my candidate, I watched his recent speeches and the Bill Moyers interview in their entirety. I have these observations:

1) I didn't find anything he had to say new, nor controversial, and I don't know what the fuss is about. After Tuskegee, it's not ridiculous for the Black community to be skeptical of what the government is capable of. No less a representative of our government than President Bill Clinton apologized for Tuskegee in 1997. I can separate the Rev.'s criticism of government policy from his love of country. It's similar to me hating the Iraq war but supporting the soldiers.

2) Yes, JFK and LBJ had accents and they weren't corrected while Black schoolchildren have been. I'm not offended by those accurate observations. I just don't know why we're focusing on that now, in the framework of the current Presidential campaign. Those are two long, long dead Presidents and Ebonics is not new, either.

3) Wright's message of reconciliation and acceptance is important and positive (not "divisive") and I enjoyed hearing it. Diversity can only enrich our lives, and I personally believe it's what Christ had in mind for us.

4) The minister I was closest to was my "spiritual mentor." He was dear to me and continues to have an impact on my life today, so watching Wright smirk and mock that type of relationship with his "voodoo" hand gestures annoyed me.

5) Members of the media haven't made fools of themselves by calling him "bombastic." They are not attacking the Black Church and its traditions by calling him "bombastic." They are attacking him. Jeremiah Wright is not the Pope -- he does not represent everyone of the United Church of Christ, much less all the many Blacks who attend different houses of worship. And watching how much this older gentleman enjoyed having all the cameras trained on him this past weekend, seeing how the bright lights and microphones seemed to feed his ego, I do believe him to be "pompous, pretentious and grandiose." That's how the dictionary describes "bombastic." Yup. That describes Reverend Wright.

6) He's entertaining, charismatic and he has enriched the lives of his congregants. I salute him for that. A smart man, gifted with exceptional people skills, he he has to know he's hurting Barack Obama, so I am also deeply suspicious of his motivation.

The more attention Jeremiah Wright receives, the more I long for the old days when Christ was our PERSONAL savior … when government was secular and we weren't all trying to convince one another that what we believe is what everyone should believe. These wedge issues have no place in the public square. Our forefathers had the right idea when they established the separation of Church and State:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Why should I care about Barack Obama's minister anyway? I find this, as well as that speech Romney gave late last year about his religion, very sad. I thought we put this issue behind us when JFK addressed his relationship with the Pope back in 1960.

For more about Rev. Wright's appearance this morning at the National Press Club, click here.

What a relief! For me, at least …

Just heard from the friend who had prostate cancer surgery. FINALLY! He sounded happy and on the mend. But little of his treatment has gone according to plan …

His "minor" surgery was scheduled for Friday, 4/18. He was supposed to be home sometime Saturday. The procedure itself was, in his doctor's words, "text book perfect." However, there was a problem with the anesthesia and his intestines shut down. Or, to be more precise, "didn't wake up" from the anesthesia.

So he's been in the hospital for more than a week, going through all kinds of painful and embarrassing procedures (which he detailed for me but, don't worry, I won't recount) and subsisting on IV fluids. His predominant look for spring so far has been a catheter, a tube in his nose and another in his arm.

I've been worried sick about him, afraid that the cancer had spread. Oh well, at least it wasn't THAT! And, now that he can keep food down and is able to walk a bit, he should be going home tomorrow.