But Wright’s and Obama’s critics are too far removed from biblical study to recognize that Wright is following in the footpath of the biblical prophet Jeremiah, whose oracles interpreted the sufferings of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah as punishment for their failure to live up to their covenant with God. To be in covenant with God, to be "under God," is to be blessed by the divine when we are faithful. But woe be us, the prophet Micah said, when we have failed "to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God."
Fair enough, but the biblical Jeremiah criticized his own people and called them to account before God. The new Jeremiah seems to regard the America he criticizes as "the Other" (didn’t he once refer to the United States of White America, or am I mistaken?) and to present the people to whom he ministers as victims. I realize that the clips have been cherry-picked, but I’d love to see evidence that Rev. Wright made his listeners uncomfortable about their own behavior, about their own responsibility for their plight. (My preacher does that all the time.) I’m not arguing that Rev. Wright’s preaching should consist entirely of a series of Cosby moments, but talk from the pupit about the faults of others shouldn’t exclude talk about one’s own responsibilities. I’d find Rev. Wright’s prophetic witness less offensive if there’s an admixture of self-criticism. Needless to say, it would also be less offensive if there were more than occasional references to America’s promise.
My second thought has to do with the "Historians for Obama" statement, which is remarkably free from any reference to race. There is this, however:
Not since John F. Kennedy has a Democrat candidate for president showed the same combination of charisma and thoughtfulness - or provided Americans with a symbolic opportunity to break with a tradition of bigotry older than the nation itself.
Dr. Luker and his colleagues ought to hold Obama to this high standard, rather than let him off the hook here.