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Prophets Don't Speak the Language of Politics

A Voice from the Pews

New America Media, Commentary, Patricia Novick Posted: Mar 25, 2008

Editor's note: Pastors who preach in the prophetic tradition aren't speaking as political figures who must find accomodation and compromise to achieve attainable goals. They're speaking about a different and more exacting standard, God's expectations. And parishioners know the difference. NAM contributor Patricia Novick is a healthcare worker and a parishioner at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois.

In recent weeks, as a member of Trinity United Church of Christ, I have experienced pain over the characterization of Pastor Jeremiah Wright as a radical crazy. I have attended Trinity for over ten years. I am a member of the health ministry, which provides important services to the community. I have participated in nine courses at the church, covering biblical history and scripture.

I am a white, middle-class, middle-aged woman. I chose to attend Trinity because of Rev. Wright because of the breadth and depth of his biblical knowledge and wisdom, because of the love and caring he extended to his congregants, and because of his message of the possibility of a polity connected in love and compassion. In all my time at Trinity, my views, questions, concerns, and interests have been fully respected.

I am involved in creating health ministries in congregations in cities throughout the United States. In the course of my work, I proudly announce that I am a member of Trinity UCC. Invariably, someone will come up to me and tell me of their experience hearing pastor Wright speak at their college, university, or seminary, and how inspirational and moving it had been. I have always felt pride at having Pastor Wright as my minister, and it always has been enhanced by what I have heard throughout the country. I have glowed in the acknowledgment of the contributions of my pastor.

When I was a Fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard, I had the opportunity to listen to many exceptional ministers and theologians speak on important issues. I was never as moved by any of them as I have been by Rev. Wright. I have brought people from many faiths and other countries as guests to church with me at Trinity. They always have been unequivocally amazed and exhilarated by the passion, commitment, and quality of the worship experience of my home church.

I am bringing a group of Latino friends with me to church in April because they have been inundated by scare emails about my church and what it represents. Since Rev. Wright is now retired, I regret that they will not have the opportunity to hear him and judge for themselves, but I know they will recognize the quality of the community that Rev. Wright built.

I have always felt welcome, at home, a contributor, and contributed-to at Trinity. Rev. Jeremiah Wright has been one of the great teachers in my life and in the lives of so many people of so many colors. When he preaches in a fiery way from the prophetic tradition of biblical figures like Isaiah and Hosea, he reminds us how one can love ones country and still deplore its shortcomings. Hosea, as much as he loved Israel and longed for its betterment, nonetheless compared his beloved land to a prostitute. Rev. Wright is not preaching as a political figure who must find accommodation and compromise while moving toward attainable goals, he is talking about a different and more exacting standard, Gods expectations of us. Christians recognize the difference between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God.

Senator Obama has lifted the spirits and the sights of tens of millions of Americans within the political sphere. His judgment of Rev. Wright as a man who has done the same thing within the religious sphere was and is correct. May God give us all eyes that are open and hearts to seek for truth and justice.

Related Articles:

Obama Blasts Wrights Words But Not the Man

Obama's Speech: A message of unity

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