The Wright context

In the just-published issue of National Review, Stanley Kurtz provides a detailed look at Rev. Wright’s black liberation theolgy. He concludes that “the only thing worse than quoting Jeremiah Wright out of context is quoting him in context.”

Unfortunately, I understand that, pursuant to usual policy regarding articles in its magazine, National Review is not providing a link to Kurtz’s piece. When I have more time, I may try to write a reasonably thorough summary.

Kurtz is mainly interested in Wright’s ideology and the closely related theories of his mentor James Cone. He does an excellent job of showing how these ideological underpinnings have led Wright to the conclusions that Obama and his defenders mistakenly dismiss as “sound bites” and “snippets.”

Kurtz inevitably considers the question of Obama’s decision to remain in Wright’s church. He writes: “Nearly every sermon Wright preaches, as well as his now-infamous bulletins and church magazines, is filled with his radicalism, and it’s therefore impossible not to conclude that Obama was broadly attracted to Wright’s politics.”

Significantly, Wright’s radicalism sparked a mass exodus from the church on several occasions. By 1975, nearly all of the members who had invited Wright to become their pastor in 1972 had defected. In 1983, “a group of particularly active and prominent members uncomfortable with Wright left Trinity. . .for a local Pentacostal Apostolic church.” Wright’s radicalism also caused his relations with the United Church of Christ to be rocky at times.

These facts make Obama’s decision to remain in Wright’s flock all the more telling.

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