Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My brother, my pastor

I don't know about you but there are plenty of times I have listened to a sermon at my church and disagreed with the priest. Heck, I disagree with the Pope on any number of issues but these disagreements don't prompt me to leave my church or my faith.

It would be a rare find indeed to locate a parishioner who agrees with everything that they have ever heard spoken during a sermon by a presider. The world is full of opinions and interpretations of the bible and world events and priests are no different.

Pick any bible passage and ask a bunch of priests to interpret and a I can guarantee that there will be vast differences. Some priests look at the passage in the context of the time in which it was written while some attempt to bring the passage forward to modern times and shoehorn it's message into current events. Neither is wrong or right. Just an opinion from a person of faith who has thought long and hard about what it all means in the context of the spiritual journey we are all on (agnostics and atheists included).

Reverend Wright is certainly on the radical side of the fence right now and Senator Obama is right to repudiate those ideas that don't aid in his own faith and go against his personal beliefs.

But I take issue with the thought that the words of Reverend Wright can be assumed to be the words of Senator Obama or that the ideas and thoughts that accompany those words are an integral part of the Obama creed.

Hillary Clinton claims she would leave a church that preached the sermons of Rev. Wright. That is her choice. But if disagreeing with a sermon means you have to find a new church you'll be switching churches every month.

I listen to a sermon and I reflect on what I hear. I discard those things that I disagree with and I hold onto the words that help me and strengthen my faith. That is what I expect from my priest. No more, and no less.


At 12:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of thoughts on this post:

1) If one can pick and choose which ideas to adhere to or ignore in a sermon, then what is the point of going to church at all? If the concept of a priesthood has any validity at all, it would seem to me that one would have to give more weight to what a priest teaches than you appear to be doing. Perhaps you aren't really as cavalier about this as your post would suggest. But if you are, and you really don't believe in what the Church teaches, then why do you bother going at all? Pick some other way to socialize; that seems to be all you are doing with that time anyway; behaving in this manner is really just an offense to those who do believe what the Church teaches.

2) It seems to me that the histrionics displayed by Jeremiah Wright go significantly beyond something that one would simply "disagree" with. It is one thing to disagree with a statement or idea put forth by a priest/pastor/minister/rabbi. It is quite another thing to disagree with the hateful manner in which such ideas are put forth. True, you and I are not black men or women living with some of the things that have been done to that race in the past. And perhaps if we were, the intensity of Jeremiah Wright's comments might be more palatable. But I really doubt it. I have many black friends and associates, and I do not know of any of them who would even sit in church and listen to "God damn America" like that. There is NO context in which that could be considered a Christian attitude, by anyone.

And I would think this would be especially true for anyone with any notion of running for President someday. I give Obama no points for repudiating this man's comments. He did not do it and would not have done it without media pressure. If he were not in the presidential race, I'm sure he'd still be sitting there every Sunday shouting praises for this man and his warped sense of spirituality.

At 5:26 AM, Blogger PurplePol said...

I don't hold to the "blind obedience" doctrine that says every word from a church leader is the gospel truth. I don't fault people that practice their religion that way but it doesn't work for me. I have sat and listened to sermons containing wildly different interpretations by various priests on the same bible readings during my years in the pews. Either one of them is exactly right and the others should be discounted or there are lessons to be gleaned from each. As in politics it's not a black/white issue. Many Catholics disregard the church teachings against the use of condoms. Are they bad Catholics or pragmatic individuals tailoring their faith to their own lives?

The Bible is a document reflecting the time in which it was written. That has to be taken into account when examining it's teachings. Church leaders are products of their environment as well. They are fallible human beings and I view them that way while listening to their words.


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