Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Real Wright, In Context

In the May 19 issue of National Review magazine Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow of the Ethics and Policy Center, puts some of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s wilder flights of fancy into their proper context, and finds the context as disturbing as the statements themselves.

Far from being in the mainstream of the black American church, Chicago’s United Trinity Church of Christ, Kurtz writes, is “the most radical black church in the country.”

The “theology” of the church has been lifted from the writings of James Cone, “the founder and leading light of black-liberation theology” and the author of Black Theology & Black Power.

“Wright acknowledges” Cone’s work as the basis of Trinity’s perspective, Kurtz writes, “and Cone points to Trinity as the church that best exemplifies his message…Cone’s theology is the first and best place to look for the intellectual content within which Writes views took shape.”

Presently the Charles A. Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York, Cone hit upon liberation theology even before the Marxist inspired movement that swept Latin America in the 1970’s.

One of the attractive features about Barack Obama is that he has positioned himself, the candidate of "change," as a black politician who is not mired in the past.

Cone and Wright are stuck in the tar pit of the 70's, when everyone else has moved on, including the black entrepreneurial class that Wright and Cone view as having been co-opted by the "White Power structure." Even the rhetoric of Wright and Cone smells of the attic, and their underlying theology is a mess.

Those who do not transcend the past are doomed to live in it, and those who live in the past are doomed to repeat ad infinitum its fatal errors.

Obama and Wright were bound to clash – better sooner than later. One does not know at this point whether Obama's recent rejection of Wright is radical enough. There are some who suppose it opportunistic rather than radical.

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