March 23, 2008

The Obama Speech

The hoo ha over Barack Obama’s minister and his resulting explanation has been dissected from every conceivable angle but I will, I hope, add one more. As I recently watched the video two things were glaringly absent.

First, the church experience for a young family such as the Obama’s extends beyond the spiritual. Religion is often seen a social and educational opportunity for parents seeking to build a moral base for their developing young children. The media have focused on what did Obama know, when did he know it and how could he have stayed in a church that espoused such radical views. But where was Michelle in this relationship with the Trinity United Church of Christ? What role did she play in the decision to attend this congregation?

A family’s religious choice does not happen in a vacuum, yet nowhere in this speech is there a peek into their religious expectations or decisions. Nowhere is there a reference to a night where the couple sat in front of the fireplace with a cold bottle of Chianti and debated the tenets of their church or whether it was an appropriate atmosphere for their daughters. From some of Michelle’s remarks, which echo the rhetoric of Pastor Wright, she may have been a bigger factor in remaining in this church than her husband. But we don’t know that... Obama never tells us.

Second, although he states that he disagreed with the messages emanating from the pulpit he only now disavows the sermons of his pastor. Nowhere does he mention that he and his minister ever discussed the messages that he found troubling. This is a person that reportedly touched Obama’s soul, yet nowhere is there an indication that the man he portrays as an Uncle ever spent an evening in front of the fireplace with a case of Colt 45 passionately debating the fact that it is ’08 not ’68 and the experience of the black man in America has evolved in the last 40 years.

You are left with the impression that Obama was on the outside looking in during these events. He was simply a detached spectator to the people (including his Grandmother) which played such large role in his life. Perhaps if he had exuded a sense that he was an active participant in this he may have some credibility. Without it the speech was little more than a history of race relations in America or a well written campaign stump speech.

If he didn’t have the personal courage to intervene in dialog that he so passionately disagreed with in a small intimate group like his family or church how can we expect him to do the right thing in the White House?

1 comment:

Steve said...

Thank you for your insight.

Flashback to 1968

From what I have learned, Rev. Wright grew up in a upper middle class neighborhood with his parents. His father a Baptist minister and his mother the vice principal of a private girl's school. Rev. Wright did not attend the areas integrated schools that the other kids in the neighbor went to, Rev. Wright attended a private mostly white (actually Jewish) school. I guess his feelings toward the Jewish people go back to that incident in the boys locker-room.