Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

January 21, 2014

LION AND THE LAMB: Dreams or drones?

CROSSVILLE —

The Chicago Teachers Union is in the process of forming an independent political organization that will promote and support candidates with more populist credentials, especially ones that will fight the city’s policy of shutting down dozens of neighborhood schools and opening charter schools that are publicly funded but privately managed.

On Jan. 15 the CTU held a breakfast in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., and invited the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to give a keynote address. This was a natural choice because before retiring in 2008, he had been a pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, a congregation in a largely black neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago made up of working class people and the poor. When he became pastor there in 1972, the struggling congregation had only 87 members but more importantly, a challenging motto and vision statement: “Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian.”

When Wright retired 36 years later in 2008, the congregation had over 6,000 members. Its program of ministries included soup kitchens, day care, drug and legal counseling, mentoring for young people, tutoring for kids, women’s health programs, an HIV/AIDS ministry, a credit union, book store, a 300-member choir, and many other ministries. When a young Barack Obama came to Chicago and began working as a community organizer on the South Side, he sought out Wright for his knowledge of the neighborhood. He then began attending there and was baptized by Wright who later officiated at his and Michelle’s wedding.

Wright was a powerful preacher with a keen interest in peace and justice issues. He was also deeply grounded in the Bible’s prophetic tradition of Amos in criticizing those who oppress the poor and crush the needy, focusing especially on the sins and hypocrisy of the political and religious establishment. The verses in Amos 7:10-13 describe what still happens today to those who prophesy against power structures in such a way. They are told to shut up, go back home, and be less disruptive.

On April 13, 2003 Wright’s prophetic bent got him into trouble with the establishment. In a sermon entitled “Confusing God and Government,” he described how our American government had put its citizens of Indian descent on reservations, its citizens of Japanese descent in internment prison camps, and its citizens of African descent in chains, slave quarters, on auction blocks, in cotton fields. inferior schools, substandard housing, scientific experiments, lowest paying jobs, outside the equal protection of the law, keeping them out of their racist bastions of higher education, and locking them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness. The government, he said, gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants to sing God Bless America. “No, no, no. Not God Bless America; God Damn America!.. God Damn America for treating her citizens as less than human. God Damn America as long as she keeps trying to act like she is God and she is supreme.” If he had said “God Condemn America,” he might have escaped the resulting firestorm, but instead he used the less genteel version.

These excerpts from his sermon were widely publicized on network television in early 2008 without any acknowledgment of the fact that Wright’s sermons invariably convey a more complex message than simple sound bites can express. Wright later commented, “People don’t understand ‘condemn,’ the root, the etymology of the word in terms of God condemning the practices that are against God’s people.” He went on to say, “Obama is a politician. I’m a pastor. We speak to two different audiences. And he says what he has to say as a politician. I say what I have to say as a pastor. Those are two different worlds.” In May of that year Obama and his wife withdrew their membership in the Trinity congregation.  

Last week on Jan. 15, Jeremiah Wright, now pastor emeritus of Trinity UCC, gave the keynote address at the Chicago Teachers Union’s breakfast in honor of Martin Luther King. Between 200 and 300 teachers and local pastors gathered to acknowledge King’s legacy as a crusader for social justice and union rights. Nothing illustrated the difference between the two worlds of religion and politics more clearly, however, than one of Wright’s comments: “King said, ‘I have a dream.’ Barack said, ‘I have a drone.’” 

Both men had received the Nobel Peace Prize. But note the difference in their conception of peace and how to obtain it. Obama has engaged in targeting suspected nameless militants for assassination in foreign countries with which the U.S is not at war. It has been estimated that the U.S. has killed some 4,700 people abroad with drone strikes, outside of declared war zones. For example, the Obama administration has increased by 600 percent the drone strikes in Pakistan that the Bush-Cheney administration had initiated. The European Parliament recently issued a statement of concern about the legal basis, as well as the moral, ethical and human rights implications of the United States’ targeted killing program that authorizes the CIA and the military to hunt and kill individuals who have suspected links to terrorism anywhere in the world. So far, the U.S. has not responded to this statement of concern.

In addition to the drone program, Special Operations forces comprising 72,000 personnel are now deployed in 120 countries around the world to maintain an American imperial presence in critical locations and to facilitate military

engagement where necessary. 

Martin Luther King had a much different idea about peace and the things that make for peace.

• • •

This column by local writers is dedicated to the theme that the lion and the lamb can and must learn to live together and grow in their relationship toward one another to ensure a better world of peace and justice.  Opinions expressed in “Lion and Lamb” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff.  For more information, contact Ted Braun, editor, at 277-5135.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Lion and the Lamb: Our war on women

    Jimmy Carter, who was president from 1977 to 1981, has had quite an impressive career as an author. His first book was published in 1975, and he has now written a total of 37 books, 23 of them after his presidency. He has set a high example for other past presidents, especially those who would like to find ways of being as beneficial to their nation as possible in the days after their retirement.

    April 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: "Selfie" destruction

    Technology continues to profoundly impact our daily lives, from the Heartbleed Bug that put hundreds of thousands of websites at risk of compromising customer usernames and passwords, to the little light that tries to tell me I'm about to run out of gas. Technology also impacts our language, with new words being created to describe the latest gizmo, gadget or trend.

    April 21, 2014

  • Stumptalk: It depends on what you mean

    A writer’s headline asks, “Do we really believe in democracy?” To which I answer, “What do you mean by democracy?

    April 21, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice