You knew I couldn't leave it alone, right? One caveat: I'm still not sure who I would vote for were I not entirely disenfranchised by the primary system and potentially even in the general election.
I think it was a great speech. I heard most of it via NPR and read the rest online. It was intelligent, thought-provoking, unapologetic, respectful, and the right move for a candidacy under fire. It struck a great tone and gained a large measure of my respect.
It also wasn't enough.
I, too, had grandparents who were racists. When I was in first grade, I loved a boy with chocolate skin and big brown eyes and black curls. He was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen in my life. When I showed my class picture to my Granddaddy, God bless his soul, he said, "You got yourself a boyfriend?"
And I pointed to my One True Love and smiled a moony smile.
"What??? That nigger?"
Yup. The big N. I didn't even know what it meant, and it was several years before the issue ever came up again. But I still remember how the glow had faded from my affections by the following day.
I could, and had to, put up with his racism because he was my Grandaddy and I loved him and he loved me.
Not so with a pastor.
I recently left a church because of two sermons: one denouncing THE DAVINCI CODE, which clearly indicated the pastor hadn't read the book, the second denouncing gays and homosexuality. These were fire-and-brimstone, pound-the-pulpit, controversial, thought-provoking, militant sorts of sermons that made me realize I could not belong in a church that twisted love into hate, much less one that encouraged boycotting a work of fiction. Incidently, this man baptised my children and was a kind, loving family man, well-liked and respected in the church and community. He certainly was always kind to me in all our dealings. But, books and love are two of my great passions, and if God doesn't have a place for every flavor of book and love in His House, then He has no place for me. (And so I thought for over a year, until I found the Episcopal church.)
I've been to black Christian churches, in Chicago, no less. I've seen inspiring, sometimes controversial sermons delivered in these churches. I understand the appeal and how they are a rallying cry to a downtrodden people. But some things are too important to let slide. I couldn't excuse Rev. Wright and Obama any more than I could excuse Falwell and his flock for their divisive, hurtful rhetoric. Any candidate proposing to bring America together who has spent the last twenty years listening to a man spouting such divisive rhetoric from his pulpit (even a few times) should come under fire.
And his "grandmother" point didn't quite fly with me. A pastor is not a favored, tolerated uncle or grandmother. We don't choose our family. But we do choose our churches. A pastor should be one's pastor, in this country at least, because of personal choice. And in my opinion, no matter how nice and well-meaning Rev. Jeremiah Wright is, Obama made the wrong one.
addendum: I missed those Sundays is the equivalent to I didn't inhale.