Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The ignorance of arrogance comes with a price

How can the news media look into the camera with a straight face and act shocked by Dr. Jeremiah Wright? If anyone should be the source of controversy, it should be Fox News and Sean Hannity. This is the story behind the story in this "news event". Let's go back to Friday night the 14th of March.

With all the drum beats of the videotape of Dr. Wrights sermons, and then Sean Hannity turns up the shrill that if this is all true then Senator Obama needs to withdraw from the race and resign his seat in Congress.. I thought to myself they must be onto something really hot for Hannity to look like George Bush was just elected for a third term and picked Mitt Romney for his running mate. But the truth of the matter is, Sean Hannity and Fox News had this story a year ago and were either too ignorant or too arrogant to even realize it. I realize that is quite a statement to make, but it is well founded folks. They just failed to listen and to be able to discern what they were being plainly told.

Sean announced as they came on air that they are going to be interviewing Senator Obama on their program on Friday evening so I watched their show to see that interview. While I am waiting to hear the interview (actually done by Major Garrett) Sean starts bragging that he had interviewed Obama's pastor a year ago and they were going to play it in full. As I sat there and watched the interview my jaw dropped in disbelief. No, not at Dr. Wrights answers but at Sean Hannity's incompetence as a investigative journalist. Dr. Wright was telling him a year ago what he is just now understanding and Sean was too busy wanting to one up him to get the real story, that Dr. Wright was trying to give him! Sean was too busy telling him he studied theology to even grasp it and Dr. Wright was even telling him what theologians world view shaped his. But due to either arrogance or ignorance (or both) everyone missed the story.

Ok, Sean Hannity is not the best investigative journalist, that isn't breaking news. But what about the entire staff at Fox or CNN, NBC,ABC, CBS or MSNBC for that matter? After I saw this I emailed "my group" and tagged Fox as being "Hillary's do-boys" and not realizing it. (Mc Cain endorsers worldviews were also being compared in argument that night but not a word about Hillary's and I started to laugh thinking, Hillary's team actually listened to that interview a year ago and compiled this for the right time -purely my speculation-educated guess)

On March 6, I posted "How can you cure what you don’t understand?" (link) referencing the false claim of Senator Obama being a Muslim, and examining his judgement on issues. I also asked readers to examine the doctrines of his church. While it seemed to be liberation theology, it did not appear to be the classic liberation theology I was familiar with so I made reference to the social gospel and compared their doctrines to biblical doctrine, and left the reader to draw their own conclusion. Again, once I saw the interview from a year ago, I understood it was indeed liberation theology and that most people don't understand it.

Today, while reading Asia Times Online,I saw Spengler had run a column on "The peculiar theology of black liberation".

Spengler, in his own style and worldview,explains black liberation theology. In the event you are not familiar with it nuances, and are trying to reconcile it with your own Christian beliefs I have included excerpted pieces of the article below:

" Senator Barack Obama is not a Muslim, contrary to invidious rumors. But he belongs to a Christian church whose doctrine casts Jesus Christ as a "black messiah" and blacks as "the chosen people". At best, this is a radically different kind of Christianity than most Americans acknowledge; at worst it is an ethnocentric heresy.

What played out last week on America's television screens was a clash of two irreconcilable cultures, the posture of "black liberation theology" and the mainstream American understanding of Christianity. Obama, who presented himself as a unifying figure, now seems rather the living embodiment of the clash."

He references the interview that Hannity was bragging about and I referenced:

Wright asserted the authority of the "black liberation" theologians James Cone and Dwight Hopkins:

Wright: How many of Cone's books have you read? How many of Cone's book have you read?

Sean Hannity: Reverend, Reverend?


Wright: How many books of Cone's have you head?

Hannity: I'm going to ask you this question ...

Wright: How many books of Dwight Hopkins have you read?

Hannity: You're very angry and defensive. I'm just trying to ask a question here.

Wright: You haven't answered - you haven't answered my question.

Hopkins is a full professor at the University of Chicago's Divinity School; Cone is now distinguished professor at New York's Union Theological Seminary. They promote a "black power" reading of Christianity, to which liberal academic establishment condescends.

Obama referred to this when he asserted in a March 14 statement, "I knew Reverend Wright as someone who served this nation with honor as a United States Marine, as a respected biblical scholar, and as someone who taught or lectured at seminaries across the country, from Union Theological Seminary to the University of Chicago." But the fact the liberal academy condescends to sponsor black liberation theology does not make it less peculiar to mainstream American Christians. "

Spengler further notes, (and please note when he says black theology he means black liberation theology)

During the black-power heyday of the late 1960s, after the murder of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, the mentors of Wright decided that blacks were the Chosen People. James Cone, the most prominent theologian in the "black liberation" school, teaches that Jesus Christ himself is black. As he explains:

Christ is black therefore not because of some cultural or psychological need of black people, but because and only because Christ really enters into our world where the poor were despised and the black are, disclosing that he is with them enduring humiliation and pain and transforming oppressed slaves into liberating servants.

Biblical theology teaches that even the most terrible events to befall Israel, such as the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE, embody the workings of divine justice, even if humankind cannot see God's purpose. James Cone sees the matter very differently. Either God must do what we want him to do, or we must reject him, Cone maintains:

Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community ... Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love. [1]

In the black liberation theology taught by Wright, Cone and Hopkins, Jesus Christ is not for all men, but only for the oppressed:

In the New Testament, Jesus is not for all, but for the oppressed, the poor and unwanted of society, and against oppressors ... Either God is for black people in their fight for liberation and against the white oppressors, or he is not [Cone].

That is the "biblical scholarship" to which Obama referred in his March 14 defense of Wright and his academic prominence. In his response to Hannity, Wright genuinely seemed to believe that the authority of Cone and Hopkins, who now hold important posts at liberal theological seminaries, was sufficient to make the issue go away. His faith in the white establishment is touching; he honestly cannot understand why the white reporters at Fox News are bothering him when the University of Chicago and the Union Theological Seminary have put their stamp of approval on black liberation theology.

Whether Obama takes seriously the doctrines that Wright preaches is another matter. It is possible that Obama does not believe a word of what Wright, Cone and Hopkins teach. Perhaps he merely used the Trinity United Church of Christ as a political stepping-stone. African-American political life is centered around churches, and his election to the Illinois State Senate with the support of Chicago's black political machine required church membership. Trinity United happens to be Chicago's largest and most politically active black church.

Obama views Wright rather at arm's length: as the New York Times reported on April 30, 2007:

Reverend Wright is a child of the 60s, and he often expresses himself in that language of concern with institutional racism and the struggles the African-American community has gone through," Mr Obama said. "He analyzes public events in the context of race. I tend to look at them through the context of social justice and inequality.

Obama holds his own views close. But it seems unlikely that he would identify with the ideological fits of the black-power movement of the 1960s. Obama does not come to the matter with the perspective of an American black, but of the child of a left-wing anthropologist raised in the Third World."

1. See William R Jones, "Divine Racism: The Unacknowledged Threshold Issue for Black Theology", in African-American Religious Thought: An Anthology, ed Cornel West and Eddie Glaube (Westminster John Knox Press).

Again, my inclination is that Senator Obama does not really hold to the same doctrine of Dr. Wright but to watch him squirm in that interview and carefully parse his words, makes me leery. Why? I served with people in churches who never wanted to offend anyone, by using a pluralistic formula of agreeing with everyone. In the end you not only offend more people but become known as standing for nothing. I managed businesses where people were afraid to make a decision and run with it for fear it is wrong or would hurt someones feelings. They never see their failure to take a position is in itself a position and makes one question their judgement.

In conclusion, the MSM, Fox News really blew this story a year ago. Now we will have a examination of ministers and what they believe and have to hear denials in which I have no interest and is a distraction. I believe this may have ended any chance of a VP position for Mitt Romney as well-if you can't live with liberation theology, KOBOL, and Mormon doctrine may be too much as well. Ironic as it may be, I thought the press pushed a separation of church and state and we were for the right to believe what we wish, rather than bring our pastor to be interviewed.

Spengler concluded, with what well may be the question of the convention:

"It is possible that because of the Wright affair Obama will suffer for what he pretended to be, rather than for what he really is."

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