Friday, May 09, 2008

Better Never Than Late?

One hesitates to even whisper the name Jeremiah Wright now that it has become a faint echo from, lo, a whole week ago. I'm sure most folk in the Obama camp hope they never hear it again.

But the story of Rev. Wright and his famous congregant have not ceased to echo in my mind and to trouble my heart.

Call me touchy-feely or wishy-washy, but I make a lot of my decisions based upon intuitive reasoning. Much of what I understand about the Universe and the people in it is communicated to me not through words or formulas or prooftexts but in visual language, through sound and feel and maybe even something less quantifiable than that. Since most ministers, I am told, are "NF" on the Myers-Briggs scale, they ought to understand. This way of "knowing" the world has grown even more dominant for me as I get older. Is that what they call wisdom? Maybe... I know that sometimes, I AM wrong!

So, what I am about to say is what I have gleaned from those intuitive sources above, filtered through a week or more of contemplation and rumination. I agree with Boyce Watkins ( that the real tragedy here is that a Black man and his pastor and friend of 20 years have been forced to sever their relationship by a media that hounded and pounded at them mercilessly. There are so many ways in which Barack Obama is being forced to deny and repress his "blackness." But when he dismissed his pastor for once and for all, I thought I saw pain, not artificial but genuine pain, in his face and heard it in his voice.

Wright has made some errors, but we know that he is a brilliant and distinguished man of deep faith and commitment. I also know, as do my fellow clergy, that even the most intelligent and insightful members of our congregations may see us through filters and lenses that make us look more super - human than we imagine. No doubt this was the case with Obama/Wright. After all, Barack had come to his discovery of his faith under that man!

When, for whatever reason, the veneer comes off and the clergyperson is revealed to be human, flawed, and especially when the perception arises that the clergyperson is in any way abandoning his/her congregant, the pain, anger, and disillusionment are so deep and so distressing that some people even lose faith.

But most don't. In fact, they may grow. That is my prayer for Barack Obama.. that he will emerge sadder but wiser. And for Wright... may he be wise enough and intelligent enough to see deeply into why it had to be this way.