Monday, June 02, 2008

On quitting one's church

I've thought about quitting my church. I won't say that I think about it a lot. I have good friends, and the youth group and lots of people I care about at my church and I wouldn't leave it lightly. God and I are OK on our own, but these connections to other people help keep me in a community and a tradition where a bunch of us working together do a lot more than me working alone.

But the thoughts of quitting do flit through.

Like, oh, yesterday, when a sermon that could have been just as good without the clear assumption that everyone in the room was a political liberal had to throw in those assumptions anyway. They were in the context of a general message of being tolerant to others, even those ghastly conservatives, but the assumption is still annoying.

The thoughts flit through. Yet I don't seriously ever plan to leave my church unless I move, and I don't frankly plan to do that ever.

But then, no minister has ever given me the trouble that Obama's ministers are giving him.

I am a big fan of the Parsonage Life Blog and its writer. But his story on Obama leaving his church mystifies me.

No, I don't think the issue for conservatives or the media was Black Liberation theology in the sense of preaching about taking care of the poor. I've never seen a church that didn't talk that talk, though some of them walk the walk better than others. (And admittedly, Trinity walks that walk beautifully.)

Honestly, I'm amazed that the Obamas lasted as long as they did at a church that seemed to be doing its damnedest to sink their political ambitions.

I'm sorry, Pfleger preaching IN A SERMON that Hillary's disappointment comes from anger that a "black man" could be beating her is JUST PLAIN WRONG, to say nothing of the fact that it is the sort of sexist* sentiment that has me leaping to Hillary's defense. It starts a little voice going in my head saying "Yeah, Hillary is acting defensive and irrational. But people are PRINTING UP T-SHIRTS WITH THE C-WORD ON THEM. Don't YOU get a little defensive and irrational when you think about that? Of course, you want a president more level headed than you, but still..."

As RevRose has noted, it's possible I should do something about these voices.

But anyway, between Rev. Wright's assurances to the National Press Club that Obama is a mere politician answering to the polls but Wright himself answers to God and Rev. Pfleger's little Hillary imitation (that he is shocked, SHOCKED ended up on YouTube) the church has been a tremendous political liability for Obama and I can't imagine that the folks in the pulpit didn't know what they are doing. Everybody, Adam included, is quick to blame the press, but nobody forced Rev. Wright to go in front of the press club and they certainly didn't ask Rev. Pfleger to preach on Hillary keeping a black man down.

Say what you will about squeezing the story 'til it went dry. To my memory, the story of Obama's faith has gone dry twice, right before Rev. Wright did his little talk show speaking tour and right before Pfleger's sunday morning Clinton comedy routine.

To my eyes, it's not the press and not even Obama's opponents who are keeping this story alive. His church is doing it and I don't know why they would do this to him. He really seems like a good candidate and I will happily vote for him no matter what these crazy people say in his name.

But this is NOT about his sainted ministers being criticized for standing up for the poor, not at all.


*Because we all know that women aren't sufficiently ambitious to want the presidency for themselves. All they care about is that it DOESN'T go to a black guy. It's all about reacting to a man, you see. Obama's experience is enough to earn him the right to run for president. Hillary's just means that she thinks she's entitled to the presidency. Because she's a bitch that way. And have I shown you my new t-shirt?


Robin Edgar said...


What?!! Don't tell me that people are accusing Hillary Clinton of belonging to a cult or trying to start one. . . ;-)

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how people can hold Obama responsible for what a GUEST speaker says in a church he hasn't been in in several months. It's really a stretch that he's responsible for what others say anyway, but a Guest speaker????

Wouldn't that be like holding you responsible for the anti-conservative messages in your church?

Bill Baar said...

Pfleger is a long time friend of Obama and one of three people Obama cited as spiritual advisors back in 2004 to the Sun times: Wright, Pfleger, and Rev (Ill State Sen) Meeks.

These three preachers plus Farakhan are long time fixtures in Chicago and where bigger names and players locally than Obama for years.

Obama's been a boon for every member of the chattering-class in Illinois regardless of what they think of him. All of a sudden I start getting phone calls from News Papers all over the world.

Imagine how I would feel if the National Press Club offered me money to speak about him.

Any how, Obama's spiritual mentors have huge egos, love the lime light, and make their living off of it.

Obama used them for a long time in Illinois (and others) and now they're using him... maybe with the expectation he will crash soon so cash in while the gettin good. I think it's about as simple as that.

Rick Moran over at Right Wing Nut House on Obama unloading his friends is good too.

As Obama makes the left-to-center move now for the National race, expect him to unload more Chicago friends.

Chalicechick said...


For what it's worth, I do feel responsible when I'm in a congregation that has to listen to political fussing from the pulpit.

Which is not to say that I think Obama should be held responsible for these guys, who are intentionally sandbagging him as far as I can tell.


With friends like these, Obama doesn't need enemies.

Bill Baar said...

LoL.. Politics is a tough game in Chicago and these guys play hard.

Obama brought a lot of religion into politics. In the sense he talked about it alot. We have lots of political Preachers starting with Rev Meeks, Cong. Rush.. but Obama made a point of reclaiming spirituality (read the Sun Time's link) and all of that and it's sort of blown up in his face.

Rev Meeks by the way tends to mock gays... I've heard him speak that way on TV. So far Obama's really been given a pass on that spiritual advisor.

Obama would have been much smarter to join First Church in Hyde Park... but they're not connected to any of the real estate players and you look at what's going on in Chicago's Southside, it's all about real estate and development...

...and of course playing with the Rezko's, Farrahkans, and all of their deals and shame minority contracts got Obama pretty far and may get him to the White House.. so what good would joining First UU have done him.. they don't have any local clout that I know of...

Jennifer said...

I quit my first year of college. I only went back because they offered me a job and I still have a lot of problems with our own brand of UU dogma. It should be an oxymoron, but it's not.

Will said...

Obie joined for political reasons. . . . and quit for political reasons.

B. Baar, your local insights are very interesting.

I expect there are a few out there in the UU pews who agree with you, CC, on the politics from the pulpit. I gave up trying to find them.

Anonymous said...

Well, Obama did say they were his SPIRITUAL advisers, not his political advisers.....
Aren't you all claiming that there is a difference when you say No politics from the pulpit?

Chalicechick said...

Of course there's a difference.

Obama's therapist* is his "psychological advisor" not his "policial advisor," but that doens't mean it would be remotely acceptable for his therapist publically speculate or complain about either Obama's motives OR his opponent's.


*assuming he has one

Bill Baar said...

Obama IS the therapist. It's what turned me off the most (after having voted for him).

I got sick-and-tired about the lectures on being a good Dad, values, and on-and-on...

I really want Fed dollars for a new bridge over the Fox river.

Bill Baar said...

Laura Washington writing last month in the Sun Times.

TUCC pulled down $8.8 million in Fed Funds... and the local Fox TV has revised that up to $15 million today.

Politics, money, and religion are a long standing mix in Chicago.. I remember my youth group visiting the Black P Stone Nation folks when they were getting Ford Foundation grants in the 60's under the leadership of our intern from U of C Div School...

UU's seem oblivious to the game sometimes.

PG said...

It might have been "smarter" for the Obamas to join this or that other church, but from what I understand, Rev. Wright was genuinely inspirational in bringing Obama to Christianity. That's why it took so long for Obama to disclaim what has been a political liability since 2004. I'm also sick of the people who assume that they know what Rev. Wright is about based on 30 seconds of Fox News. I know a white, Jewish, Zionist blogger who has actually read Wright's sermons and is familiar with black liberation theology, and while he disagrees with Wright, he doesn't have the rage against him I've seen from those who know much less. I agree that the concern about BLT isn't about its regard for the poor as such. But liberation theology itself was threatening to the mainstream because it was too inclined to ally with leftist/Marxist movements. The Church believed in helping the poor, but not in reshaping government and economics to do so. Similarly, Obama's critics are in favor of black people's ending reliance on government, but they don't like the idea of a self-consciously black community that strives for independence from whites.

As for why Obama had endorsements from preachers like Pfleger on his website, those only showed up after the "he's a Muslim!" campaign started. (And I knew that campaign had gone pretty deep when my mother, who isn't a Christian either, started getting those emails from her conservative friends.) Per usual, Bill mentions that Meeks is anti-gay, but not that Wright was a pioneer in the black church for welcoming gays and lesbians and doing outreach to AIDS patients.

Bill Baar said...

Wright, Plfeger, and Meeks are fixtures in Illinois. There will known by anyone who pays attention to politics or religous life in Chicago. They have been known far longer than Obama to Chicagoans and Obama sought their freindships (if you can call it that) long ago as part of building his career (there is nothing wrong with that either!)

But they are hardly unknowns and considering the Federal money funneled to these Churches over the years (why can't UU's get that...? my Church just came up short on it's pledge drive) these guys are fair game for politics.

PG said...

Er, if one demands a strict separation between church and state, as UUs generally seem to do, it's hardly surprising that they don't get the faith-based grants -- how many UU churches even apply for them?