Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Peter Gomes : The Pastor as Prophet

I just love biblical scholars don't you?
Peter J. Gomes is Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in The Memorial Church, Harvard University, and a best-selling author. He's written a really good piece about our current situation entitled "The Pastor as Prophet" :

"While I could not possibly agree with everything that Jeremiah Wright says, I do know that when a preacher, especially a black urban preacher, fails to speak truth to power and refuses to speak of what is wrong in the ardent hope of making it right, that preacher is, in Milton’s words, a “blind mouth,” and a repudiation of God’s solemn call to him. Preachers, despite much evidence to the contrary, are not called to celebrate the status quo, even an American status quo, and when they do their job properly they call us all to a higher standard. Preachers are not perfect, nor are they the only people allowed to be credible critics of our time and place, but they are among the very few whose vocation it is to make us aspire to something other than the status quo. For too long we have made God an ally in the American way; the highest standards of preaching in America require that we should seek to be God’s ally, helping God and one another to create a world in which we seek to live as God would have us live. To criticize America is not a sin, but it is a sin to mistake America for God, and it is both sin and dereliction of duty to fail to note the difference."

Read the entire article HERE

1 comment:

des52 said...

It is refreshing to see how many lack the will and courage to stay by someone in the dark hours. Dr. Marty, thank you for standing by our man in all his humanity.

Years ago,in 1969 Dr. Martin Marty issued a challenge to his students at the University of Chicago Divinity school saying:

"Most church bulletins, church news letters and publications are in no way related to reality. When is the last time you picked up a church bulletin, church newsletter or a church publication and saw something remotely related to the real world in which the worshippers lived? You do not pick up those kinds of publications in a church. Church bulletins talk about their pastors anniversary, the choir concerts, car washes hosted by the youth and the bake sale hosted by the ladies. Church newsletters talk about church conferences, church business, fundraising and capital stewardship campaigns. People come into those sanctuaries, week after week from a world where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been assassinated, where Malcolm X was murdered, a world full of racism, discrimination . . .war and insanity. The church publications however, say absolutely nothing about those realites that the members have to face and the realities with which the worshippers have to live immediately following the benediction."

As you can see from today's news Trinity strove to be relevant and followed that challange. But in myopic media fashion what Trinity talks about in the bulletin is predictably distorted. The media did not report Trinity's concern about Darfur, or Keke Palmer, or HIV Aids, no, they wanted to again paint Trinity as some left wing crazed church, not like "us."

Well, if blowing the trumpet about black women dying of AIDs means we are not like one of you, OK. If making a noise about corportions pressuring young black artists to do negative lyrics rather than positive age appropriate lyrics means we are not like you, OK. If pointing out the genocide in Darfur makes us not like one of you, so be it.

Thousands of years later the biblical lament is still true, "My people die for lack of knowledge" But not Trinity.

The media is upset again because Obama weathered the storm of the so called "Wright scandal." They are scratching their heads. Their arms are too short to box with God. So now here comes another trickle of charges, "look what he said in the bulletin."

As Dr. Marty notes, we do not have to agree with all of Rev. Wrights decisions, his choice of words, but thank God Dr. Wright challenged us to see, to look, to consider. We are all better for it.

When folks are mistreated, that is an ugly set of facts. Dr. Wright was not a bystander. The psychology of bystanders is focused on one of the following:

1. If I speak up they may come after me.

2. Nobody else is speaking up

3. Maybe the victim brought it on themself

4.It is not so bad

This happened in NY when neighbors watched a young women get raped. It happened in Germany when folks did not get involved while Jews were tortured. It happened on the Middle passage, through the years of slavery and through Jim Crow. Dr. Wright however, decided to look at the ugly set of facts that faces our world and do something. He is as imperfect as Oscar Schindler was. But like Schindler, he chose to see things he did not want to see, hear things he did not want to hear and spent his life and money to set folks free.

God bless him. And to those who are throwing him under the bus, I only have imprecatory thoughts about your actions.