I have no sympathies for any statement that would damn a people or a nation – I just want to make that clear before going any further.
Jeremiah Wright is a misunderstood preacher, to say the least. But I would like to revisit his famous “Chickens are Coming Home to Roost” sermon.
There is a move in Psalms 137… A move, if you will, from worship, to war. A move from the worship of the God of creation, to war against those God has created…There is another move… They have moved from the hatred of armed enemies to the hatred of unarmed innocents. The babies; the babies. “Dash their heads against the rocks!” That, my beloved, is a dangerous place to be. Yet that is where the people of faith are in 551 BC. And that is where too many people of faith are in 2001 AD.We want revenge. We want payback. And we don’t care who gets hurt in the process.
I remember thinking, when there was a race- and American Exceptionalism-fueled controversy over Rev. Wright’s sound-bites, that he was very, very right. (Even as his most controversial parts were quoted from a white ambassador.)
And while Obama’s many fans tried to explain this sermon away*, saying that he never heard such a sermon while he was there, I woke up this morning wishing that he had paid more attention to it. I shuffled through my apartment this morning praying that a sermon like this would continue to burn through him a searing conscience. The United States of America is a land founded on and needing genocide, slavery, and war in order to Manifest its Destiny.
Our empire-building has relied largely on emptying the bellies of our enemies, on trampling and building on the land of the inhabitants, on ‘bashing their babies against the walls’ of poverty and war. Although I don’t expect these patterns to end – let alone reverse – anytime soon, I would like to see us face our demons and perhaps begin the process to conquer them.
*It’s funny how those who claimed that Rev. Wright is so racist for mentioning the topic of race in his church cannot see that all churches are context-heavy – and many white churches continue to prop up White American exceptionalism and refuse to question White Supremacy, if they’re not outright condoning it.