Page 280

Barack Obama meets Reverend Wright.

Now, I crawled out of a comfy reading position with three pillows to blog this, so I hope you read carefully:

When I asked for other pastors to talk to several gave me the name of Reverend Wright, the same minister Reverend Philips had mentioned that day at his church. Younger ministers seemed to regard Reverend Wright has a mentor of sorts, his church a model for what they themselves hoped to accomplish. Older pastors were more cautious with their praise, impressed with the rapid growth of Trinity’s congregation but somewhat scornful of its popularity among young black professionals. (“A buppie church,” one pastor would tell me.)

Toward the end of October I finally got a chance to pay Reverend Wright a visit and see the church for myself. It sat flush on Ninety-fifth Street in a mostly residential neighborhood a few blocks down from the Louden Home projects. I had expected something imposing, but it turned out to be a low, modest structure of red brick and angular windows…

(page 282) He had grown up in Philadelphia, the son of a Baptist minister. He had resisted his father’s vocation at first, joining the Marines out of college, dabbling with liquor, Islam and black nationalism in the sixties. But the call of his faith had apparently remained a steady tug on his heart…He learned Hebrew and Greek, read the literature of Tillich and Niebuhr and the black liberation theologians. The anger and humor of the streets, the book learning and occasional twenty-five-cent word, all this he had brought with him to Trinity almost two decades ago…”

So when Obama says his pastor changed – it wasn’t the same guy he knew from the beginning – what do you believe?


  1. Kathryn says:

    Same way it can be Greek or Irish. God is god, the Church is the people. You have the old testament right on the mark, and it carries over into the new one. You might enjoy reading or listening to John Dominic Crossan.
    I haven’t read Tillich–never cared for existentialism in any form. I have read a little of Reinhold Niehbur, not his brother. All three are major 20th century theologians; one could hardly complete a seminary program without studying them–at least in that era.

    Black liberation theology: