Thursday, May 01, 2008

An update to yesterday’s post about the words of Rev. Wright

(I wanted to make a point of updating yesterday’s post about the words of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and, because I think it is important not to leave any misconceptions or mistakes on my part simply hanging out there, contributing to all the noise on this subject, I wanted to do it in a separate post, instead of a simple update, so that more people might see it. I thank you for your indulgence. –guy2k)

I may have misunderstood Rev. Wright’s sodomy reference Friday night on Moyers. A reader sent me a link to a post that includes this passage from David Mendell:

Wright remains a maverick among Chicago's vast assortment of black preachers. He will question Scripture when he feels it forsakes common sense; he is an ardent foe of mandatory school prayer; and he is a staunch advocate for homosexual rights, which is almost unheard-of among African-American ministers. Gay and lesbian couples, with hands clasped, can be spotted in Trinity's pews each Sunday.

If this is the case, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, what to make of this Wright quote from Friday?

That the perception of God who allows slavery, who allows rape, who allows misogyny, who allows sodomy, who allows murder of a people, lynching, that's not the God of the people being lynched and sodomized and raped, and carried away into a foreign country. Same thing you find in Psalm 137. That those people who are carried away into slavery have a very different concept of what it means to be the people of God than the ones who carried them away.

A search of other posts around the ‘sphere indicates that many believe that when Rev. Wright included Sodomy in this litany, he was making a reference to Abner Louima, the Haitian émigré who was beaten and sodomized with a plunger handle by New York City police officers (who allegedly told Louima it was “Giuliani time”) in 1997.

Given both the broader context of Wright’s words, recently and in the past, this seems like a valid interpretation, or at least a strong possibility. I fear, however, that if the subtlety was lost on me, it was lost on many whom would not take the time nor show the desire to understand it further. I’m not sure that Wright cares about that; I do think that Moyers might.

A discussion of hermeneutics—which is what Wright and Moyers are engaged in here—is not really the stock and trade of the establishment media. They of the black-and-white print and the color TV are not so much into explaining shades of gray. Whatever would they make of Wright’s reference to Psalm 137?

Psalm 137 is the one that recounts the yearnings for Jerusalem by enslaved Jews. It begins with “By the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept,” and then tells of how the slaves cannot comply with their captors’ request for a song of joy: “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” It ends with the enslaved dreaming of avenging the sacking of their city by seizing Babylonian children and dashing their heads against rocks.

A difficult passage? Certainly. An angry passage? It seems so. A vengeful, dangerous—radical, even—tract from a man named Jeremiah? Why, as a matter of fact, yes—the prophet Jeremiah. . . from the Bible.

(You know, maybe it’s for the best that the establishment media is too busy/lazy for this part of discussion after all. . . .)

I now return you to your regularly scheduled war/recession/discussion of flag pins.

(cross-posted on The Seminal)

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