Some pastors began to rethink their sermons on Tuesday, when Senator Barack Obama gave a speech about race, seeking to calm a furor that had erupted over explosive excerpts of sermons by his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.
Yup, nothing could have made me change my topic faster than hearing what the junior senator from Illinois said in order to try to clarify why he attended a church where some of the sermons contained some pretty ugly ideas and phrases. Easter? The resurrection of Christ? The most integral event to the Christian faith and to the meaning of human life and existence? Naw, I'm gonna talk about stuff a politician said in order to try to get himself out of a public perception jam.
I won't bust on Sen. Obama for being ambivalent about leaving his church. After all, according to him the preacher in question played a large role in leading him to Christ. And even if that's the kind of thing that could be blithely set aside, we're talking about a person leaving his church family -- the place where he, for the last 20 years, has found the body of Christ made real and become a part of it. I'd hope that wouldn't be easy to give up. Should he be sticking it out for venial reasons -- as a Chicago-area pol, he knows the only voters you can safely tick off are the dead ones because you already have their ballots filled out -- I can see why he'd do it.
When all is said and done, all we're talking about here is something that's been said. It's just a speech, and if preachers know one thing, it's that good, bad or mediocre, speeches by themselves don't change nothin', even when you call them sermons. Only time will tell if Sen. Obama's speech plays a major role in America's conversation about race. And I regret to inform Ms. Goodstein and Ms. Banerjee that "since last Tuesday" ain't nearly enough time. I'll leave the political talk to the politicians, and I'll keep the pulpit talk for the pulpiteers.
Which leaves the silly airheaded untrendy "trend" stories exclusively for writers from The New York Times.