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Thursday, March 20

Barack Obama's race speech is a knowledge test, not a Rorschach Test

Yesterday I came across comments that Barack Obama's race speech is a "Rorschach Test;" i.e., if you support Obama you think it's a great speech and if you don't, you think the speech is awful. That view is a cop-out by people who are too poorly informed about black liberation theology and Barack's past to provide an objective analysis of the speech.

Obama depended on widespread ignorance of such matters to pull the wool over America's eyes about his church -- just as he depends on widespread ignorance of Chicago political corruption and the intricacies of his relationship with Tony Rezko to dupe the gullible.

I also came across mention yesterday that in lieu of betraying Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama "threw his own grandmother under the bus."

Obama threw so much and so many under the bus it looked like a massacre by the time the speech ended. He threw Martin Luther King, Jeremiah Wright, his church congregation, the civil rights movement, black liberation theology and his grandmother under the bus -- and not to mention truth.

The truth is that Obama attempted to separate Wright from the church he built. The truth is that Obama fooled all but informed listeners into believing that it was possible to attend the church without being steeped in the doctrine of black supremacy that Wright preached. The church begs to differ, as they clearly state on their website:
Dr. Wright’s talking points (3.1.7) for Trinity United Church of Christ its Web site and the Black Value System [...] The vision statement of Trinity United Church of Christ is based upon the systematized liberation theology that started in 1969 with the publication of Dr. James Cone’s book, Black Power and Black Theology. ...
Whatever you may think of the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright's speeches, he's not as Barack Obama portrayed him; he's not a relic of the past and he's not a cranky old man who sometimes pops out with outrageous statements. He's a torch bearer for black liberation theology, and everything he says at the pulpit is true to that belief system. So the least that Obama could have done for a man who gave him great help over many years was stand up and say that.

The least Obama could have done for the church he's belonged to for almost 20 years, and which gained him entree into many segments of Chicago society, was acknowledge that it was built by the faith of people who believe in Black Liberation Theology. Instead, he cheapened their faith in the eyes of the world by portraying them merely as angry blacks.

I can't recall whether it was Wright or someone else who characterized Obama as Jesus being persecuted by the Romans. Yet once you understand how many people and principles Obama betrayed in his "race" speech, someone associated with Jesus immediately comes to mind as the right characterization for him.

But here we come to a snag. It might be closer to the truth to call black liberation theology an offshoot of Christianity, depending on your interpretation of Christian theology. In any event, it's not the Christianity taught by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Dan Riehl of Riehl World View and Rob at Say Anything were not caught napping by Barack Obama's speech. They noted it was very unlikely that Dr. King would have supported the doctrine preached by Dr. Jeremiah Wright.

And it's beyond question that the doctrine challenges the message of equality and integration preached by Dr. King, which formed the basis of the civil rights movement he led.

Thus the mercilessly observant Spengler, who is also somewhat of an expert on Christian theology, peered down from his lofty perch at the Asia Times and announced that Barack Obama had talked himself into quite a pickle.

Before turning to Spengler's dissection of black liberation theology, some history -- in case Obama's speech misled you into believing that he joined Rev. Wright's church because Wright led him to Jesus:
From [Jeremiah] Wright and others, Obama learned that part of his problem as [political] organizer was that he was trying to build a confederation of churches but wasn't showing up in the pews on Sunday. When pastors asked him the inevitable questions about his own spiritual life, Obama would duck them uncomfortably.

A Reverend Philips put the problem to him squarely when he learned that Obama didn't attend services. "It might help your mission if you had a church home," he told Obama. "It doesn't matter where, really. What you're asking from pastors requires us to set aside some of our more priestly concerns in favor of prophesy. That requires a good deal of faith on our part. It makes us want to know just where you're getting yours from."

After many lectures like this, Obama decided to take a second look at Wright's church. Older pastors warned him that Trinity was for "Buppies" -- black urban professionals -- and didn't have enough street cred. But Wright was a former Muslim and black nationalist who had studied at Howard and Chicago, and Trinity's guiding principles -- what the church calls the "Black Value System" -- included a "Disavowal of the Pursuit of Middleclassness.'"

The crosscurrents appealed to Obama. He came to believe that the church could not only compensate for the limitations of Alinsky-style [political] organizing but could help answer the nagging identity problem he had come to Chicago to solve. "It was a powerful program, this cultural community," he wrote, "one more pliant than simple nationalism, more sustaining than my own brand of organizing."

As a result, over the years, Wright became not only Obama's pastor, but his mentor. The title of Obama's recent book, The Audacity of Hope, is based on a sermon by Wright. (It's worth noting, however, that, while Obama's book is a coolheaded appeal for common ground in an age of political polarization, Wright's sermon, "The Audacity to Hope," is a fiery jeremiad about persevering in a world of nuclear arms and racial inequality.) (1)
That's enough to make it clear that whatever faith Obama developed in Jesus with help from Wright would have come sometime after Obama joined the church, which he did for purely strategic reasons.

Now I'll turn to some quotes from Spengler's discussion, which I recommend that you read in full. Rev. Wright and others may protest that the discussion about black liberation theology is too narrow. But I think Spengler does a fair job of explaining what distinguishes the theology in its essence from other Christian theologies and why Barack Obama cannot sunder it from his church experience:
The peculiar theology of black liberation
By Spengler, March 18, Asia times

[...] During the black-power heyday of the late 1960s, after the murder of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, the mentors of [Jeremiah] 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."

Theologically, Cone's argument is as silly as the "Aryan Christianity" popular in Nazi Germany, which claimed that Jesus was not a Jew at all but an Aryan Galilean, and that the Aryan race was the "chosen people". Cone, Hopkins and Wright do not propose, of course, to put non-blacks in concentration camps or to conquer the world, but racially-based theology nonetheless is a greased chute to the nether regions.

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. "[See article for footnoted reference]

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]."

In this respect black liberation theology is identical in content to all the ethnocentric heresies that preceded it. [...]
Toward the end of the discussion Spengler notes in part about Barack Obama:
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. [...]

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
.
If that should turn out to be the case, I believe that is what's called poetic justice. Couldn't happen to a more deserving rascal.

1) From The Agitator, a report on Obama's approach to organizing in Chicago.
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