How Obama became a Christian, and why he is unable to break with Wright

In Barack Obama’s March 18 speech in Philadelphia on race, he reads an eloquent passage from his 1995 autobiography, Dreams from My Father, where he described the first time he heard Rev. Wright give a sermon, and told how the sermon, combined with his uplifting experience of the rich humanity of the people in the congregation, so moved him that he became a Christian believer and joined Wright’s church. There was another passage in the same scene in his book which Obama did not read in his Philadelphia speech. He did, however, read it aloud for his 2005 audio recording of Dreams from My Father. Here he is paraphrasing and quoting Wright’s sermon:

It is this world, a world where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where white folks’ greed runs a world in need, apartheid in one hemisphere, apathy in another hemisphere … That’s the world! On which hope sits.

(To hear it, go to Hugh Hewitt’s page, click on the third hour of his March 27 show, and slide the indicator just a bit past half way, where Hewitt interviews Glenn Reynolds and Mickey Kaus and gets their reactions to Obama’s recording.)

The meaning of that line, “white folks’ greed runs a world in need … That’s the world!” is that greedy white people are the source of the world’s evil, exactly as in Wright’s more recent sermon where he repeatedly speaks of “poor black men living in a country and a culture run by rich white people.” This is the black racist version of Christianity, in which the principle of evil is identified with the white race and the principle of good is identified with the black race, or with all nonwhite races. That’s the message that so touched Obama that he became a Christian.

Powerline (still inexplicably silent on McCain’s liberal internationalist foreign policy speech but willing to lay it into Obama) has these useful insights:

John of Powerline:

Obama describes himself being moved to tears by this sophomoric analysis of the world’s problems. By his own account, Obama wasn’t repelled by Wright’s racism, it was the very quality that drew Obama to Wright’s church!

Paul of Powerline:

It’s pretty clear that no form of Christianity other than black liberation theology had any chance of attracting Obama. Wright’s sophomoric raging was a perfect fit for Obama. It made him feel authentically black, … it fit the anti-American narrative Obama had picked up in the Ivy League, and it was the best church around for advancing Obama’s career in Chicago politics. People have had religious experiences on considerably less than that.

Now the shape of the Obama-Wright relationship becomes even clearer. It wasn’t that Obama couldn’t break with Wright over Wright’s anti-white racism because Obama felt a deep connection with Wright as the man who brought him to Christianity. It’s that Wright’s anti-white version of Christianity was the very thing made Obama a Christian. The whites-are-evil theme is not an unfortunate and unnecessary addition to Obama’s Christianity; it is integral to Obama’s Christianity. And that is why he couldn’t break with Wright.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 28, 2008 11:06 PM | Send

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