Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Eleven O'Clock Hour

Let me say up front that though I am not a Barack Obama supporter, I do applaud yesterday's speech. One of the good things that I hope might come out of this crazy election is more honest discussion about race relations in our country BETWEEN Americans of different races, not AT each other. And I hope "A More Perfect Union" acts as a catalyst.

What struck me most is that Obama sees and insightfully acknowledges the multiple racial perspectives that are often only talked about behind closed doors. He brought the private discourse of this nation into the public light of day. Though I encourage you to watch the entire video and read the transcript, I wanted to highlight what I thought was the climax of the speech:

For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. ... And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

Until we in the Christian community, in all churches, openly acknowledge the tragedy of segregated Sunday mornings and seek forgiveness--until we start to mend torn relationships with our brothers and sisters down the street--we will not be able to be the church for the world that we are called to be. I'm not saying anything new. I'm just repeating something we all need to hear (me especially).

I also understand that though Obama's speech does not get at the true heart issue of sin in this matter, it certainly highlights the symptoms. Especially the talk of anger. And it opens the door for discussion and a way for some to find much-needed redemption. I hope and pray the Church will be the ones to lead this nation in reconciliation by acknowledging the root of bitterness and pulling it up quickly. The Church should, I believe, demonstrate through word and deed that in Christ "there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus." This is one of those issues that is at the heart of the Gospel. Christ came to make us one, and we should all share table fellowship with Christians from all corners of the world, but most especially those in our own cities and towns.

Some of my friends are tackling the issue of racism and race relations as well. Lane attempts to comment on the misunderstanding of racial issues. Travis has been posting a series on "Racism 101" with a reading assignment and a post praising Obama's speech.


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