Obama Cherrypicks in Church, and So Do You

Christians, to the extent that they believe the Bible is the inspired word of God and are forbidden to distinguish between Old and New Testaments when it comes to the edicts of God (even when they conflict), are technically violating these edicts whenever they see a homosexual, a Jew or an adulterer and fail to kill them.

Are you a good Christian? I hope not.

I hope you use the intellect God gave you to parse the biblical advice that made sense at the time — that was used to justify slavery, subjugation of women, and violence of all kinds — from the eternal truths of life, that all religions and even extra-religious morality systems throughout modern civilization have in common.

Much of modern religious activity consists of separating the wheat from the chaff. That’s not a bad thing. We worry a lot about groups of worshipers who haven’t learned this art, because they not only believe the primitive and obsolete aspects of their religion, but act on those beliefs. We call them fundamentalists. Christian, Muslim or Jew, people who can’t pare away orthodoxy to get to the core of a belief are more of a liability in society than an asset.

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright gave Barack Obama and his family a lot of racism orthodoxy every Sunday that they attended their church. From listening to Obama in speeches, I conclude he has his head screwed on straight with regard to race — or he’s an incredibly cunning liar, but I tend to suspect the former. (I mean, he is a politician.) This means that his opinion of race is formed from input from other places besides Rev. Wright. And during the sermons, assuming he’s not daydreaming, he mentally puts his thumb up or down, depending on what he can stomach from the preacher. The good he gets from being a member of the congregation may outweigh the elements with which he disagrees. Maybe he puts the racism in the same category I always put all the supernatural aspects of Christianity: into a mental “circular file.”

Is that really so hard to fathom?

Does this mean we don’t need to hear a full explanation from Mr. Obama soon? No. I’m just putting myself in his position for a few moments. Something we all should be doing a little more often, especially the “churched” among us. And I’m recognizing that being in the same room as a speaker and buying everything he says are two different matters. That’s the case whether the speaker speaks from a pulpit or a debate podium.

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One response to “Obama Cherrypicks in Church, and So Do You

  1. Well said, Rick. I’ve had the same experience at a Zen Center, where my beloved teacher from time to time would go off on a political rant which tempted me to rise from my zafu and leave the zendo. I confronted him on it, and we had a good back and forth, never completely resolved, but for a while he stuck to the dharma, at which he is a terrifically gifted teacher. If someone had videoed some of his anti-US comments, and I was running for office, I would have been in tough position explaining why I sat through it.

    I hope Obama in today’s speech keeps his eye on history and the future, and not on short-term campaign expediency. He has a forum to help us all understand race in America and what a better future may look like on this painful and dangerous subject.

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