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Jeremiah Wright, pastor to Barack Obama for twenty years, spoke publicly in his first television interview since clips of his controversial sermons circulated the Internet in an interview on PBS set to air Friday. Wright expressed frustration with how his sermons had been portrayed by the news media and critics of Obama’s presidential  bid.

“I felt it was unfair,” he told Bill Moyers according to released excerpts. “I felt it was unjust. I felt it was untrue. I felt that those who were doing that, were doing it for some very devious reasons.”

“The message that is being communicated by the sound bites is exactly what those pushing those sound bites want to communicate,” he said, adding later, “I think they wanted to communicate that I am unpatriotic, that I am un-American, that I am filled with hate speech, that I have a cult at Trinity United Church of Christ — and by the way, guess who goes to his church, hint, hint, hint? That’s what they wanted to communicate.”

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A couple of days ago, I found an editorial, “Managing Ignorance,” by the Rev. Dr. John Mendez, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, in The Chronicle. The article appeared in the April 3 issue.

I should have seen the editorial earlier, but racism doesn’t go away, you see, just because I’m slack. So I’m going to excerpt it now.

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The Rev. Dr. John Mendez

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“In recent days, the American public has been bombarded by a series of video clips, relentless isolated sound bytes, and lots of frenzied, misinformed overcharged rhetoric by the news media, commentators, and right-wing bloggers, caricaturing and demonizing my friend, Dr. Jeremiah Wright and Trinity Christian Church. Dr. Wright is under attack for the use of language and sentiments uttered while preaching a sermon that criticized and condemned American violence at home and abroad. In my estimation, however, the real reason Dr. Wright is under attack is that he was the pastor of Senator Barack Obama and his family for over 20 years, as UCC President John Thomas pointed out. Those who sifted through hours of sermons looking for a few lurid phrases and those who aired them repeatedly were only seeking to discredit and harm Obama by associating him with the historic prophetic ministry and social gospel preaching tradition of the Black church, as if that is a bad thing; and to divide the American people along racial and religious lines by subtly playing the “race card.”

I have known Dr. Jeremiah Wright for over 25 years. He is a brilliant preacher and scholar. He was recognized by Ebony Magazine as one of the top 15 preachers in America. He has preached in Winston-Salem several times to overflowing audiences. Trinity Church is located in Southside Chicago, where the consequences of racist public policies are manifested in a crumbling infrastructure, a failing school system, and a lack of economic development. For decades, Trinity Church has been hailed as a model church for what Dr. Martin Marty, a professor of religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School and frequent visitor to Trinity worship services, describes as a place of ‘hope, hope, hope.'”

Read the rest of the article here. Emphasis mine.

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Dr. Mendez was instrumental to my understanding of black preaching. He spent hours of his valuable time talking with me and recommending books, so that I could understand this aspect of my thesis on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And now I hope others will listen to this man of God.

You see, I love John Mendez, and I respect him. In my heart, he will always be my pastor, whether I sit in his pew or not. He has helped me educate my ignorance and become a recovering racist rather than a practicing one. And in that, dear reader, there is hope, hope, hope.

American can yet become the nation we dream of.

**

White Into Black

Sin.
Freed

into that darkened sky—
Friday.

How can one be born
when one is old:

washed—
in the flood from His side,

beneath the piercing sword?
Surely

I will abandon my watery grave—
alive:

pale as ancestors, plunged
into its flow—

black as my Jesus, comely:
a bride.

first published in Domicile

Fulfilling A Mission by Henri Nouwen

“When we live our lives as missions, we become aware that there is a home from where we are sent and to where we have to return. We start thinking about ourselves as people who are in a faraway country to bring a message or work on a project, but only for a certain amount of time. When the message has been delivered and the project is finished, we want to return home to give an account of our mission and to rest from our labours.

One of the most important spiritual disciplines is to develop the knowledge that the years of our lives are years ‘on a mission.””

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Emphasis mine.

**

The devotional by Nouwen explains, at least to me, why I must continue presenting a battle against the triple evils: racism, poverty, and war (as identified by Martin Luther King Jr. in Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community in 1964), why I must continue to explain that in race relations “better” (the term white people insist upon, and is true) does not mean “equal” (the goal for black people that hasn’t been reached).

I am on a mission. I’ve been sent here by God. I will continue on my mission because of Calvary. God will call me “home,” but maybe not until more people have heard the message.

**

On another note, Vote for me for Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere. I had eighteen votes this morning.

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