May 14, 2008

"A panic about the situation of the African American male raised into a truculent paranoid theology."

Leon Wieseltier reads Jeremiah Wright:

13 comments:

former law student said...

I haven't read anything this insightful from Weasel-animal since he accused Andrew Sullivan of Jew-baiting.

George said...

Vocab. guide:

truculent = pissed off

vitiated = toasted

dialectical = about big ideas

wissechelkcacheklsheit = scientific nature (duh!)

dialetical materialism = history is people fighting

existentialism = you're on your own

sibyl = crazy broad talking shit, like Camille Paglia

nihilism = like Karl Hungus, the porn star, in Big Lebowski

riff = hot guitar solo over and over

vatic = demon possessed

Paddy O. said...

A couple of thoughts come to mind with this.

One is that I think there has been a massive, massive lack of appreciation for the origins of the various liberation theologies. Like Fundamentalism, or Evangelicalism, or other movements liberation theology was a reaction against entrenched distortion. Far too much of the church had endorsed and aided institutional racism. Theology was used to alienate and distort, and corrupt. It pushed aside the outsiders and the poor. It was immensely euro-centric. Just think of the classic blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus pictures.

The traditional black denominations began because white leaders refused to support black clergy. This is antithetical to Biblical theology, but it was the continuing reality for far, far, far too long.

Liberation theology is a prophetic movement. It's a reminder of God's preferences for the poor and the outcast. It reminded people of a balance that is inherent in Scripture, but was implicitly rejected in our practices.

The problem with liberation theologies, of any of the various expressions, was in their reaction against entrenched forms of Christianity they lost their own particular Christian grounding. Thus, instead of staying liberating, they almost always tend towards triumphalism. Blacks aren't just equal, they are better. The poor don't just have rights to participate, they must rule and crush the opposition.

It's the exact same thing we see in Marxism, which isn't at all surprising since liberation theology has often had very strong ties to marxism.

And like with the Civil Rights movement in general, the originators were either replaced by more corrupt followers, or they in their aging wanted to hold onto the Revolution, without acknowledging the gains already made. Like aging hippies they are more interested in the glories of their youthful idealism than the realities of the present. So to keep that going they incite discontent and obsess over increasing minutiae.

But at the core, there is something real and important being said. Only now Wright and the others have so lost their own way they have no ability to hold onto that core truth or communicate it right. They lost their own hope and their own faith and their own joy, but keep trying to use all the old spiritual language, adding corruption upon corruption and helping no one find their way forward.

It's sad. Because in our era we are finally seeing real liberation, but the liberation theologians have become too lost to help push it towards real completion. They are wormtongues now. But that doesn't mean there wasn't something prophetic at the core. And what was prophetic has in fact brought real change. Too bad so many are too bitter to accept it and too far from God to celebrate it.

William said...

I just read a somewhat exculpatory article about the Rev Wright's church in Newsweek. It seems to me that if the Rev. Hagee were supporting Obama, we would read many articles about his good works saving congregants from demon rum and deep, background articles about the many and sufficient causes that Protestants have to distrust Catholics. Also it seems to me that comparing McCain-Hagee with Obama-Wright is like comparing Eisenhower's love affair in foreign lands with Clinton's BJ in the Oval Office.

Pogo said...

"I see why hopeless people are tempted by the social benefits of fascism, but I do not see why they succumb to the temptation, because nothing will determine their way through life more than what they believe, and Farrakhan's beliefs doom them to isolation and despair."

"the unceasing excitation, the wild hyperbole, the fantastic promise of total transformation, the impervious radicalism, the imputation of personal election"

Damn, but those are good critiques, written well.

former law student said...

Damn, but those are good critiques, written well.

They are conclusory arguments. Good arguments provide evidence for every assertion, which Wieseltier has neglected to do. At best he's entertaining.

Pogo said...

Nah. Pretty weak, fls. Try again.

This ain't a law review. He gave some evidence and presumes the reader has read enough to be aware of the topic. It's a brief magazine article, not spoon feeding a la a scientific research paper. Bah.

Blue Moon said...

Paddy O,

Wow! Nice post -- it wasn't the white racist firebrand preacher that created guys like Wright, it was the lukewarm, "let's not rock the boat," moderation in everything, including the fundamental nature of the Gospel, preached that created him. When kind, decent pastors could not take a stand against Jim Crow because they were afraid of what the congregation or HQ would think... When I read the "A Call for Unity" letter that prompted MLK's Letter from Birmingham Jail, I am reminded me of the statement a theologian made in the 60's that the American Christian makes an idol out of personal peace. Wright's version of Lib T. forgets the radical nature of Jesus' teachings -- it is far more radical than anything a mere mortal could come up with.

PatCA said...

Beautifully written, well said.

I thought along Paddy O's lines about the Catholics and the Jews, who started their own colleges because they were banned from the WASP system. They assimilated, they succeeded, they instutionally and officially forgave, because they kept their eyes on the ultimate prize.

Yes, of course, a history of slavery is quite different and more terrible, but the Wrights of the world are leading their people down a path of doom if they keep preaching like "children and fools" this hateful nonsense.

former law student said...

He gave some evidence and presumes the reader has read enough to be aware of the topic.

Fine. In that case, Leon Wieseltier is like Oakland: there is no there, there.

Christy said...

I responded the same way FLS did. I wondered why "Farrakhan's beliefs doom them to isolation and despair." Not saying it's untrue, just that it is not obvious to me.

Farrakhan's call is not for the likes of you and me. His call is the only one which can be heard in the abyss where there is only isolation and despair. Farrakhan shows anger can motivate change. I've faith that those changes will bring people out of the abyss far enough that the call of Traditional Western Values will be heard.

Speaking as a blue-eyed devil.

vbspurs said...

Quoting from Wieseltier's article:

"Whereas Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis, James Cone, Audre Lorde, Maulana Karenga--they are prophets all. Was prophecy ever so easy?"

When prophets weren't about wisdom, but about colour?

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Paddy O wrote:

It's sad. Because in our era we are finally seeing real liberation, but the liberation theologians have become too lost to help push it towards real completion. They are wormtongues now. But that doesn't mean there wasn't something prophetic at the core. And what was prophetic has in fact brought real change. Too bad so many are too bitter to accept it and too far from God to celebrate it.

Post of the Day.

I love it not only when I learn something, but it makes me want to know more about it, instantly.

Cheers,
Victoria