Pastor Otis Moss III, Trinity UCC on Palm Sunday 2008

It’s been brought to my attention that members of Trinity United Church of Christ have started a blog to help buffer some of the misrepresentation of the church and of Pastor Emeritus Dr. Jeremiah Wright. I’ll add their site to the sidebar on this blog so that we can stay up to date on the corrections to their record in ministry. Here’s a direct link: The Truth About Trinity.

Now, since we live in the age of prooftexting and few have the patience to research and listen to entire sermons, if you’re looking for “soundbytes” that offer a more representational rendering of Dr. Wright’s preaching, check out this collection of sermon clips: Trinity UCC Youtube Channel.



From the beginning, when major news outlets reported on Barack Obama’s “controversial” membership in Trinity United Church of Christ and his relationship with its (now) retired senior pastor Dr. Jeremiah Wright they never were interested in contextualizing the story. Wright appeared on Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes over a year ago to help “contextualize” TUCC’s mission and message, but Sean Hannity wanted no part of it.

The most recent flap about Obama’s relationship with Wright has been reported with similar incompetence by white media in both “liberal” and “conservative” outlets.

To help add necessary context to Dr. Wright’s sermons, why not seek the expertise of those who could help explain why Wright would have the audacity to exhort that God Damn America? Why not seek to understand how someone could say Jesus was a poor black man who lived in a country run by rich white people? Most are so aghast that Wright made such claims from the pulpit, that wrestling with what he said hasn’t been the order of the day. I’ve heard a lot of “he shouldn’t have made those statements,” but not much of “his statements are erroneous because…” Maybe its because (for the most part) Wright is right, but it’s a truth that most citizens of the U.S. don’t want to hear.

Below, two scholars help to put Dr. Jeremiah Wright’s sermons in context by taking African-American experience seriously and recalling the prophetic protest tradition within the Black Church. They offer necessary context for those who don’t seem to get it. But it really makes me wonder. If we don’t “get it” now, will we ever?



Barack Obama & Jeremiah Wrigh

What’s Right with Jeremiah Wright?
The Daily Voice
Randall C. Bailey, Andrew Mellon Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at the Interdenominational Theological Center

The current turmoil regarding Dr. Wright’s sermons reminds me of the reactions to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1967 sermon against the Vietnam War delivered at Riverside Church in New York. In that sermon he charged the U.S. with crimes against the Vietnamese people and challenged the military industrial complex and the economic destruction of this nation due to that war. King saw the interrelationship between racist actions in the U.S. and in Vietnam and connected the dots. He did this in the finest tradition of Black preaching. King was castigated for speaking about issues other than civil rights and for criticizing the nation and government. We should not be surprised that more than 40 years later people still decry the marked difference in the ways in which many Black clergy approach the tasks of theologically calling the nation to judgment.


Our Jeremiah
Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton University

A black orator stood before a rapt audience, his voice rising to a crescendo as he made this fiery statement: “Statesmen of America beware what you do! The soil is in readiness, and the seed-time has come. Nations, not less than individuals, reap as they sow.

The dreadful calamities of the past few years came not by accident, nor unbidden, from the ground. You shudder today at the harvest of blood sown in the springtime of the Republic by your patriot fathers.”

Sound familiar?

These are not the words of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the embattled minister of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. These words were uttered by Frederick Douglass in his appeal to the U.S. Congress for African-American voting rights.


When I saw this a couple of weeks ago on CNN I jumped out of my seat. Charles Barkley puts it down. I know he published a book titled Who’s Afraid of a Large Black Man?, but by calling the religious right “fake Christians,”openly advocating women’s right to choose, and taking an affirmative stance on gay marriage, Sir Charles may be on his way to being born again as a New Black Man.


Four major democratic primaries are tonight, but I’m still reeling from this interview.

Why? Why did Civil Rights stalwart Rep. John Lewis feel the need to trivilize Bloody Sunday by comparing the historic march from Selma to his decision to withdraw his endorsement for the Hillary Clinton campaign?

I can accept that it was a very difficult decision to make, but to emphatically assert that marching in Selma was easier than switching his support to Barack Obama’s campaign suggests that he is so beholden to the interests of white political power brokers, that he is willing to trivialize his own persecution as recompense for thinking and acting independently.

I don’t want to believe that he has become so emotionally (and some would argue politically and economically) invested in the Clintons, that he is numb to the civil rights activism that gives him such political capital in contemporary US politics.

I don’t want to believe that Lewis is so disconnected from his own story that he would embarrass himself on national television by allowing an astonished young white journalist to remind him that he was physically beaten and bloodied in the cause for racial and human justice.

I don’t want to believe that his “love” for the Clintons is deeper than his “love” for black people and the black freedom struggle.

But the truth of the matter is that this interview suggests all of this and more.

In these comments, Lewis re-historicizes himself as an accidental activist who blindly “did what he was told” rather than one who resisted injustice with courage and intention. One whose motives may not have been as noble as I first thought.

A couple of Sundays ago, I preached a sermon from Exodus 17:1-7. In this passage, Moses has lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but now the people are in the wilderness dying of thirst. Moses, apparently unaware of their suffering goes to God and asks, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me?” Obviously, Moses had plenty to eat and drink. He isn’t complaining. But only gets worried when his neck is on the line.

John Lewis, apparently, was “unaware” of the degree to which his constituency was dissatisfied with their condition and his leadership. Like the Israelites, they “cried out” and he’s left dumbfounded, going to the Lawd/Clintons asking “What shall I do with these people?” Unlike Moses, though, since the Lawd ain’t in a position to save him, Lewis has to save himself. He chooses sides, but needs to let the Lawd know, that he didn’t want to do it and had to in order to save his life. They were going to kill me! (Sounds like Aaron, huh?)

In verse seven, the place where this event occurs is named Massah and Meribah because the people asked “Is the Lord with us or not?” Every commentary I read stated emphatically that the people should not have cried out and “tested” Moses/God. They needed to be patient. I argued in the sermon that we need to cry out and test God and the leaders who claim they are the ambassadors of God’s truth. The condition of the people was not Moses’ ultimate concern. They had to let him and God know their discontent in order for anything to be done about it. I said that we have a responsibility to “cry out” and that God can handle our cries.

Just like it’s possible that we’ve refashioned Moses as a liberator in the tradition, the text suggests that his motives may not be as pure as we’d like to think. The same can be said for many so-called civil rights leaders.

If I’m right, then John Lewis ain’t no different from Catcher Freeman.


How do you find a voice for God — one that conveys command and compassion, law and love, and never reminds you of someone pitching phone books or playing some unsavory character on screen?

Last year the company producing The Bible Experience: New Testament, read entirely by black celebrity voices, cast Samuel L. Jackson as God.

Now, Inspired By … Media Group is back with an Old Testament edition, set to go on sale in November as both a separate audio edition and part of the 72-CD “Complete Bible” edition.

This time a rich baritone with a faintly British accent starts “In the Beginning …”

The voice, unknown to most Americans, belongs to an African pastor, the Rev. Paul Adefarasin, 44. He’s the founder of a non-denominational megachurch, House on the Rock, in Lagos, Nigeria, which has 35 spinoff churches and ministries in Africa, Europe and England and a televangelism show broadcast in Lagos and London.


Interview of hip hop artist Common by David Maher from

Pitchfork: Another thing you bring to the table a lot as an MC is spirituality. Do you have a daily spiritual routine, prayer time or anything like that?

Yeah. Every day, I try to read the Bible. I read the Qur’an. I try to pray a good amount of time per day. The Bible and the Qur’an are my food for the day, and I take time to do that. After reading, even if I just take a minute to pray, I take that time to communicate with God and be alone and talk to God. I think it’s very helpful. I’d prescribe it to anybody, whatever way they need to communicate with the Most High, with God, they take their time to do it each day because it’s healthy.

Do you have a favorite story in the Bible or the Qur’an?

One of my favorite stories is in the New Testament when Jesus took two fish and five loaves of bread and fed the people, and they were like, “How did he pull it off with two fish and five loaves?” And Jesus was like, “Man, you don’t understand. I can do a lot. I’m powerful.” That made me think. [People think] everything is so literal in the Bible. I don’t think everything is so literal, [but] even if Jesus didn’t do that literally, it reminds me of how powerful we can be, how powerful we are in our minds. We can feed the people. I love the fact that Jesus thinking that powerful and that great was able to feed the people with fish, and he accomplished it. I really like that.

[Another] one of my favorites is when Jesus, in the New Testament, when some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you hanging with the prostitutes and the trash collectors?” and he was like, “Man, it’s the sick that need the healing, not the well. It’s the sick that need the physicians.” It’s saying if you’ve got knowledge or wisdom or something, the scholars or those that are already converted need to be in the streets among the people that need to hear that information, you know?

Pitchfork: It sounds a little bit like the inspiration for “The People”, the first single from your album.

Common: That’s totally– that’s like, sometimes, I don’t even know. When you just said that it made me realize that is the inspiration behind it.


By Renita Weems from 

WEEMSIf the woman in Luke 8 who’d been hemorrhaging for twelve years lived in the U.S., she would have been dropped by her insurance company by the time she met up with Jesus. You can bet that she would have been fired from her job for taking too many sick days. And if after her miraculous healing she had applied for health insurance she probably would have been turned down flat.

Prior or preexisting medical conditions make you a bad risk in the eyes of insurance companies. Of course, it’s possible that she might have qualified for partial coverage. That means, every thing except the uterus is insured.

In case you didn’t know: health insurance in the U.S. is for the healthy. You better suck it up and keep going.


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