The New Yorker did an interesting (LONG) piece about how Jeremiah Wright’s style of ministry is part of a lineage of black liberation and deliverance. Here’s a lil taste. You should read the whole thing…it’s 6 pages online – http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/04/07
As millions of people with no particular interest in African-American religious institutions now know, Trinity is home to the Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Since March 13th, when “Good Morning America” broadcast clips of Wright at his most incendiary, he has been an unlikely political celebrity, half of an American odd couple: the fiery, noisy, sixties-influenced spiritual adviser to a Presidential candidate who is supposed to be cool, quiet, and new. Wright’s greatest hits found a home on the Internet and on cable news. There are those seven words he uttered, days after September 11th: “America’s chickens? Are coming home! To roost.” And there’s the way he rewrote a classic Irving Berlin lyric: “Not ‘God bless America.’ ‘God damn America!’ ” But by the time the scandal broke Wright was already gone. He had announced his retirement at the age of sixty-six, preaching his last sermon at Trinity on February 10th, and he kept out of sight while the controversy deepened.
On Good Friday, the church held its annual “Seven Last Words of Christ” service, featuring seven sermons from as many guest preachers. Trinity calls itself “unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian,” but the preacher who was marvelling at all those white people was himself white: Father Michael Pfleger, the leader of the Faith Community of St. Sabina, also on Chicago’s South Side, which proclaims itself to be an “African-American Catholic church.” For one of the historic African-American churches, such a proclamation would be gratuitous, but Pfleger’s church, like Wright’s, belongs to a denomination in which African-Americans are a small minority. The insistence on race is, in part, an assertion of self-determination, a declaration that no church is culturally neutral…
You could hear Wright’s influence in every sermon. His life and work can’t be accurately extrapolated from a few video clips, and, at the church now, “sound bite” is uttered like a curse word. But there’s nothing on YouTube that seems likely to scandalize anyone who has spent time at Trinity. Even Obama does not claim to be surprised by what he called, in his “A More Perfect Union” speech, which he gave on March 18th, Wright’s “profoundly distorted view of this country.” (Despite such disavowals, there is no evident resentment toward Obama at the church; on Good Friday, every mention of his name and reference to his candidacy was greeted with applause.) Few of the preachers resisted the temptation to draw parallels between the man on the Cross and the man on the news, though most of them found ways to do so indirectly. The Reverend Dr. Rudolph W. McKissick, Jr., from Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, in Jacksonville, Florida, looked suggestively around the room as he described the last days of Jesus: “He does not retire in celebration, but he retires with a crucifixion.” Worshippers were free to think about any retiree they liked.