I can't say enough about the fact that I'm always hugging people in the pews that are different races at Trinity. I know we also get a lot of support in the online community. Even in the mist of all the controversy, people are able to see Pastor Wright for the genius he really is. Thank God someone gets it!
I am white, 58 years old, born and raised a Catholic (lapsed after the first eight years of school with nuns!) in a French-Canadian community in Nashua, NH. I spoke only French until I was 15 years old, when my dear grandmother passed away and French was no longer strictly required at home, and I started high school with mostly English-only classmates. As recently as 10 years ago, my boss at the time decried that the authors of a report we were reviewing were "ESLers," to which I replied, "I'm an English as a second language guy myself," and he quickly turned on his heel. I still get dinged for my occasional quasi-European grammatical constructions. Most amusing/distressing, is that I also get dinged for having a difficult-to-pronounce and too-fancy name: Rene de Pontbriand (renny d-PONT-bree-end), like it's my fault for making their life so miserable by embarassing them into trying something different. My wive and I both wo rked hard, finally earning our Ph.D. degrees in our mid-30s. This was especially big for me, as the first high school graduate in the family.
Beyond this admittedly stringy common experience, what I really want to express here is my deep admiration not only for Senator Obama and yesterday's speech, but for Reverend Jeremiah Wright. I have listened to his "Audacity to Hope" sermon twice now, on the Internet, in part out of curiosity and in part out of believing in and wanting more background on his more recent sermon making the rounds, the fiery one.
"Audacity" had to be one of the most marvelous sermons to have heard, and we should all be proud of the reasons it could be delivered in these fine United States. Here is a man, Pastor Wright, for whom, had things happened slightly differently or at a different time, could have become a wonderful national leader to us all. I can easily hear the heart and even the cadence and the eloquence he so generouslty passed along to Barack; there is no mistaking it. And there is no mistaking why Barack is proud to honor this fine man. As for the fiery words on the Internet, of course there are many ways he could have said what he did. I, along with many other Americans, direly agree that the U.S. has rubbed the rest of the world's nose in our greed and selfishness for far too long. We're doing it again to the developing countries---they are either ignored altogether (Darfur, Somalia; not to mention Native Americans) until it's too late; attacked; or railed against for wanting to start their industry the same ways we did: by ignoring the long-term environmental and global good. Why was this God's Will for us, but Satan's doing for them? As for his other "controversial" phrasings, except for the "god damn america" which was a bit over the top although I fully understand and appreciate his intention, that's the way of the pulpit.
The fervor in this type of sermon does tend to frighten Whites, who are largely innocent here---we rarely needed to scold ourselves in this way into fighting for a better life for our children and theirs. Even that is changing, we can feel it, that the next generation will have a lower standard of living. Two and a half billion dollars a week for Iraq; it is beyond comprehension how we ever let Bush start that, or why we are still there with people being blown up every day, or how to extricate ourselves and the Iraqi people without bringing more misery to that entire region. What of their children's children? How long will they be made to pay for our actions? So many unanswered questions, but there are really no nice answers there.
Let me cap my thoughts here. Thank you all for supporting Reverend Jeremiah Wright, for nurturing that kind of soul, and for finally sharing his words with the rest of us. I am so very grateful.