Friday, May 2, 2008

Wright and God

Michael Gerson shocked me with his WaPo column today: he actually has something new to say about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright kerfuffle. Gerson sharply criticizes Obama for condescension (that's not so new), but he also brings a (white) Christian perspective to the issue of Rev. Wright's theology.
It is a tribute to the power of the Christian message that there is such a thing as African American Christian theology at all. Christianity was the religion held by slave masters -- often distorted into an ideology of oppression. But African Americans found a model of liberation in the Exodus. They discovered that Jesus more closely resembled the beaten and lynched slave than their pious oppressors. And African Americans -- by their courageous assertion of God's universal love and man's universal dignity -- redeemed a nation they had entered in chains.
This is a view that Wright and others should be able to embrace. Of course, Gerson and Wright depart from this commonality in sharply different directions. Perhaps Wright does not believe that African Americans have "redeemed [the] nation"; but at least he and other blacks should believe that they can do so, and that binding up the nation's wounds is a nobler goal than rending asunder what was bought with the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil.

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