Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Friday, March 28, 2008


In March 2007, New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor published a brief story about how Rev. Jeremiah Wright had been uninvited from delivering the invocation before Barack Obama's official presidential announcement.

Wright responded by writing the following letter:

March 11, 2007
Jodi Kantor
The New York Times
9 West 43rd Street
New York,New York 10036-3959

Dear Jodi:

Thank you for engaging in one of the biggest misrepresentations of the truth I have ever seen in sixty-five years. You sat and shared with me for two hours. You told me you were doing a "Spiritual Biography" of Senator Barack Obama. For two hours, I shared with you how I thought he was the most principled individual in public service that I have ever met.

For two hours, I talked with you about how idealistic he was. For two hours I shared with you what a genuine human being he was. I told you how incredible he was as a man who was an African American in public service, and as a man who refused to announce his candidacy for President until Carol Moseley Braun indicated one way or the other whether or not she was going to run.

I told you what a dreamer he was. I told you how idealistic he was. We talked about how refreshing it would be for someone who knew about Islam to be in the Oval Office. Your own question to me was, Didn't I think it would be incredible to have somebody in the Oval Office who not only knew about Muslims, but had living and breathing Muslims in his own family? I told you how important it would be to have a man who not only knew the difference between Shiites and Sunnis prior to 9/11/01 in the Oval Office, but also how important it would be to have a man who knew what Sufism was; a man who understood that there were different branches of Judaism; a man who knew the difference between Hasidic Jews, Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews and Reformed Jews; and a man who was a devout Christian, but who did not prejudge others because they believed something other than what he believed.

I talked about how rare it was to meet a man whose Christianity was not just "in word only." I talked about Barack being a person who lived his faith and did not argue his faith. I talked about Barack as a person who did not draw doctrinal lines in the sand nor consign other people to hell if they did not believe what he believed.

Out of a two-hour conversation with you about Barack's spiritual journey and my protesting to you that I had not shaped him nor formed him, that I had not mentored him or made him the man he was, even though I would love to take that credit, you did not print any of that. When I told you, using one of your own Jewish stories from the Hebrew Bible as to how God asked Moses, "What is that in your hand?," that Barack was like that when I met him. Barack had it "in his hand." Barack had in his grasp a uniqueness in terms of his spiritual development that one is hard put to find in the 21st century, and you did not print that.

As I was just starting to say a moment ago, Jodi, out of two hours of conversation I spent approximately five to seven minutes on Barack's taking advice from one of his trusted campaign people and deeming it unwise to make me the media spotlight on the day of his announcing his candidacy for the Presidency and what do you print? You and your editor proceeded to present to the general public a snippet, a printed "sound byte" and a titillating and tantalizing article about his disinviting me to the Invocation on the day of his announcing his candidacy.

I have never been exposed to that kind of duplicitous behavior before, and I want to write you publicly to let you know that I do not approve of it and will not be party to any further smearing of the name, the reputation, the integrity or the character of perhaps this nation's first (and maybe even only) honest candidate offering himself for public service as the person to occupy the Oval Office.

Your editor is a sensationalist. For you to even mention that makes me doubt your credibility, and I am looking forward to see how you are going to butcher what else I had to say concerning Senator Obama's "Spiritual Biography." Our Conference Minister, the Reverend Jane Fisler Hoffman, a white woman who belongs to a Black church that Hannity of "Hannity and Colmes" is trying to trash, set the record straight for you in terms of who I am and in terms of who we are as the church to which Barack has belonged for over twenty years.

The president of our denomination, the Reverend John Thomas, has offered to try to help you clarify in your confused head what Trinity Church is even though you spent the entire weekend with us setting me up to interview me for what turned out to be a smear of the Senator; and yet The New York Times continues to roll on making the truth what it wants to be the truth. I do not remember reading in your article that Barack had apologized for listening to that bad information and bad advice. Did I miss it? Or did your editor cut it out? Either way, you do not have to worry about hearing anything else from me for you to edit or "spin" because you are more interested in journalism than in truth.

Forgive me for having a momentary lapse. I forgot that The New York Times was leading the bandwagon in trumpeting why it is we should have gone into an illegal war. The New York Times became George Bush and the Republican Party's national "blog." The New York Times played a role in the outing of Valerie Plame. I do not know why I thought The New York Times had actually repented and was going to exhibit a different kind of behavior.

Maybe it was my faith in the Jewish Holy Day of Roshashana. Maybe it was my being caught up in the euphoria of the Season of Lent; but whatever it is or was, I was sadly mistaken. There is no repentance on the part of The New York Times. There is no integrity when it comes to The Times. You should do well with that paper, Jodi. You looked me straight in my face and told me a lie!

Sincerely and respectfully yours,
Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.,
Senior PastorTrinity United Church of Christ


Patrick M said...

Defending Senator Obama is one thing, as is whether is association with Wright is a corrupting influence. I can, despite my worldview, see where he may be coming from.

But why did you waste space for Jeremiah Wright to spew idiocy?

The article appears to be relatively unbiased and tame to me. I don't know where he gets the insane idea that the NYT is pro-Bush. And I suspect the tripe he goes on about is part of his worldview, which increasingly appears to be as hateful toward "white America" as the loonies of the religious right are toward so many people.

I have no use for anything he has to say, even if it's from the bastion of "all the news that's full of shit."

Anonymous said...

Campbell professor speaks on real meaning of Christian unity

BUIES CREEK - When Barack Obama refused to denounce controversial pastor and mentor Jeremiah Wright recently, he was doing something that reflected the Bible's teachings about the nature of Christian unity, according to Steven Harmon, associate professor of Christian theology at Campbell University.

As Campbell's Staley lecturer for 2008, Harmon used the analogy in the third lecture in the series, "One Life With Each Other: The Theology of Ecumenism," to illustrate the spiritual meaning of Christian unity as explained by scripture.

A specialist in patristics, or the study of church fathers, and ecumenical theology, Harmon is the author of several books, "Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision," and "Every Knee Should Bow: Biblical Rationales for Universal Salvation in Early Christian Thought." His research interests focus on ways in which Baptists and other evangelical Christians may find resources in post-biblical early Christian tradition for contemporary faith and practice.

"Christian unity is no easy unity," Harmon said. "We are members of one another, but we can be angry and disagree with each other without turning it into a sin."

Paul's letter to the Ephesians illustrates the theology involved in ecumenism, which is the quest for greater visible unity among the currently divided Christian denominations. Though drawn from different backgrounds and nationalities, the members of the "body of Christ" have been called by God, redeemed and forgiven through his spirit. They are not just members of a church or a denomination, but of a "fellowship" that is directed by God.

Harmon added that the cross of Christ unifies all believers into one body. Baptists and Catholics may differ in their worship practices, but they should tolerate each other in "love" or they will forge divisiveness.

"When Senator Obama said Wright was like family to him, that he couldn't disown Wright because he was a part of him, he was precisely right. Baptism creates a new family that takes precedence over the relationships we have with the families that include parents, siblings, spouses and children," Harmon said.

A graduate of Howard Payne University, Harmon received both master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Harmon has pursued additional graduate studies at The Catholic University of America, the University of Dallas and Westfˆilischen-Wilhelms UniversitŠt in Munster, Germany, as well as sabbatical study at Duke Divinity School. He is vice chair of the Doctrine and Interchurch Cooperation Commission of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), a member of the BWA delegation to conversations with the Roman Catholic church, a member of the Order Commission of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA and a book review editor for the journal, "Perspectives in Religious Studies."

Harmon has served as an adjunct professor at Southwestern and Howard Payne and as a visiting professor at Duke. He has also served as pastor and interim pastor of Baptist congregations in Texas and North Carolina. In the fall, Harmon will join the faculty of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

Obob said...

I gotta go with patrick's assesment of the NYT and it being so very conservative. I'm kidding. As well written as the NYT, it leans so far left it's profits have shown. Wright needs to quietly go away to help Obama.
Thus, I hope he keeps talking

Shaw Kenawe said...


Would you say the NYTimes was leaning "left" when it fully backed Bush's invasion of Iraq?

You've forgotten how it printed everything Judith Miller reported that it later had to acknowledge was in error?

The New York Times was among the many in the media that supported Bush's Excellent Adventure in Iraq.

Not very "lefty" of them, n'est pas?

Ooops. Pardon my French.

Patrick M said...

Bush's Excellent Adventure in Iraq.

That's a good one. I'll have to use that one some time.

Obob said...

I used Bill & Ted's Excellant Adventure as an example in class a couple weeks ago. My 7th graders had never heard of it. Nada.

Shaw Kenawe said...

I wrote a paper for some class, I can't remember which. Anyway it was about two of the Greek Muses (Erato and Clio, I think) getting together in a cafe to talk about their respective areas of influence, and I had them speak like Bill and Ted.

I have to admit, it was pretty funny. ANd the prof thought so, too.

Wish I could find it.

It's probably disintegrated into the dust that I too will become in the future...

PS. I'm not parroting Bill Mahr, because I thought of this myself, a while ago, but didn't express it here:

Would the millions of Catholics who sat in the thousands of churches be complicit in the crimes against children? Why didn't the Catholics get up and walk out of the churches en masse to protest the criminal behavior of the priests, bishops, and cardinals (and ultimately the Pope)?

This criminal activity had been going on and had been covered up for years, maybe hundreds of years.

No one placed blame on all the Catholics for the disgusting criminal actions of their priests, bishops, and cardinals did they?

Rev. Wright did nothing illegal. We Americans have the precious Freedom and Liberty to say anything we want to against our government and the head of that government.

Why should WRight be made a villain for practicing what millions of brave men and women gave their lives for each of us to be able to do if we feel the passion to?

It is the MOST American of American privileges to be able to criticize our country without fear of the government or our fellow citizens punishing us--by withholding votes or liberties.

Just wondering.

Disclaimer: I was a practicing Catholic, but after practicing for so many years, I couldn't get it right, so I gave it up.

I still like the music and the Latin.

Patrick M said...

Wright has the right to say whatever he wants.

Personally, I just want him to go away so I don't have to listen to him anymore.

And if I was in a church with a pedo priest, or a diocese shielding one, I'd personally have let them have it. Of course I've lapsed too much for it to matter much.

And we'll assume Bill Mahr stole it from you.