They may be estranged from one another, but during Sunday morning services at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn, Pastor Jeremiah Wright showed nothing but love for his onetime congregant, President Barack Obama.
Wright was introduced by Reverend Clinton M. Miller to an overflowing crowd. “Were it not for Reverend Jeremiah Wright,” he said to hoots and cheers, “we wouldn’t have South Side Chicago baptism of Malia and Sasha. We would not have the inauguration of President Barack Obama.”
Though Wright has recently retired after three decades in the ministry, he was as free-wheeling as ever during the course of a twenty-minute sermon. Wright covered many topics, most of which fell into a few familiar categories:
1. Insulting the greedy. (People for whom “bling bling has blinded them to
the people getting murdered in Gaza,” Wright explained.)
2. False piety
(i.e., “People who think they’ve got the Lord on lock-down,” people
who are “so phony they don’t even know how to laugh anymore.”)
3. People who did not believe that a black man could
be president of the United States of America (“Those people are blind!”
Wright warned. “They are crippled by their experiences.”
is the kind of speaker who has a lot of tools to draw upon: he can be
alternately funny, arrogant, self-depreciating, and righteous-sounding.
He peppered his speech with a Dionne Warwick impression and added 360
degree turns for effect (he spun around after saying something he
thought was particularly effective)
But his favorite topic of
the day was clearly Barack Obama – and the sorry black folks who just
couldn’t believe he could win the presidency. “The Lord stepped into
his story, and gave him a new attitude,” Wright said of Obama. That
attitude, he explained, enabled him to “do something no person of
African descent had ever done before.” It enabled him to surpass the
“menage-a-trois of racism, capitalism, and militarism.” Wright then
shouted the words, “new attitude” five more times and warned the
congregants not to see themselves through the eyes of people who don’t
believe in their potential.
The church-goers, some of whom
didn’t even know that Reverend Wright was going to be there that day,
went home impressed. “I think more people need to come out and
say things that have bothered them for many years,” said Barbara
Jacobs, a Brooklynite in her fifties. She reflected on what many said
were Wright’s unpatriotic comments about the U.S. role in 9-11.
“There’s a lot that bothers us about America,” she said.
congregant was also untroubled by Wright’s comments: “”People make
mistakes,” he said.”People have ups and downs. Sometimes they say
things that shouldn’t be said.”
But Denise Jacobs, 57, wasn’t
so forgiving. “At one point he said he didn’t approve of Obama, but now
he’s by Obama’s side. Make up your mind!” she said of Wright. “He needs
to think twice about what he says.”