Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Obama - Good for Jews? Maybe Not

Boker Tov

Beware Obama?

Very interesting stuff, this. I don't know if you saw it, or if the video is available somewhere online, but Sean Hannity recently interviewed (that is, argued with) the pastor of Barack Obama's church.

[found: partial transcript]

At issue was this commentary by Erik Rush, wherein Erik took the Mission Statement of that church and (brilliantly) substituted the word, "White," for the word, "Black," resulting in what I thought was a perfectly feasible accusation of racism... specifically, of Black supremacy.

How many Americans would vote for a presidential candidate who was the member of a church that professed the following credo?

1. Commitment to God

2. Commitment to the White Community

3. Commitment to the White Family

4. Dedication to the Pursuit of Education

5. Dedication to the Pursuit of Excellence

6. Adherence to the White Work Ethic

7. Commitment to Self-Discipline and Self-Respect

8. Disavowal of the Pursuit of "Middleclassness"

9. Pledge to make the fruits of all developing and acquired skills available to the White Community

10. Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting White Institutions

11. Pledge allegiance to all White leadership who espouse and embrace the White Value System

12. Personal commitment to embracement of the White Value System.

The question is rhetorical, of course. The answer is that such a candidate wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting elected dog catcher ... let alone President, because that candidate would be instantly branded a racist, among the most vile and frightening of white supremacists....

Hannity, seemingly fairly, invited the pastor of that church to respond on the air. It was ridiculous and went nowhere. The pastor kept talking about "liberation theology," barking about did Hannity know liberation theology, had he read this book and that. At the time, knowing absolutely nothing about liberation theology myself, I scoffed, and wrote it off in my mind as being dated 1960s stuff [it's actually from the 70s]. Like Hannity, I just wanted the man to answer the racism charges.

Well, lo and behold, in an offline conversation with friends about historical proofs of the Jewishness of Jesus, I was given this to read: Misusing Jesus: How the church divorces Jesus from Judaism.

To my amazement, the discussion includes the "liberation theology" so emphatically embraced by Obama's pastor. The article is fascinating and should be read in its entirety, but check this out:

Another case of divorcing Jesus from Judaism arises in the case of liberation theology—that form of religious thought proclaiming that God has a "preferential option for the poor" and seeking to put biblical pronouncement in service to political and economic ends: Jesus is the pedagogue of the oppressed, the redeemer of the underclass, the hero of the masses.

The problem is not the use of Jesus for political ends; the biblical material has always been (and should continue to be) used to promote a more just society. The problem is that the language of liberation all too often veers off into anti-Jewish rants. Jesus becomes the Palestinian martyr crucified once again by the Jews; he is the one killed by the "patriarchal god of Judaism"; he breaks down the barriers that "Judaism" erects between Jew and gentile, rich and poor, male and female, slave and free, and so he can liberate all today. The intent is well meaning, but the history is dreadful, and the impression given of Judaism is obscene.

The poison is there in the founding documents of liberation theology. One of the fathers of the movement, Gustavo GutiƩrrez, states in A Theology of Liberation (1973) ... that the "infidelities of the Jewish people made the Old Covenant invalid."

Leonardo Boff writes in Passions of Christ, Passions of the World (1987)...

"In the world as Jesus found it, human beings were under the yoke of absolutization of religion, of tradition, and of the law. Religion was no longer the way in which human beings expressed their own openness to God. It had crystallized and stagnated in a world of its own, a world of rites and sacrifice. Pharisees had a morbid conception of their God."

This rhetoric should sound familiar: it echoes standard New Testament scholarship of the 1970s. Yet these works, classics in their field, are still being assigned to students of theology and still being read across the globe. In their wake comes anti-Judaism. I have myself recommended these early works to my students in part because there is much of value in what GutiƩrrez and Boff have to say, and I would not want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. But, sadly, when I ask my students whether they have any critique of the theology itself, not all notice the anti-Jewish rhetoric.

These anti-Jewish obscenities are still produced by those who know better. The presses that publish such materials—the World Council of Churches press in Geneva; Fortress Press, which is connected to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America; the Catholic (Maryknoll) Orbis Books and so on—are all affiliated with groups that have splendid statements on Jewish-Christian relations. But the evil of anti-Jewish biblical and theological interpretation is so pernicious, so omnipresent, that it affects even those who seek its eradication. Just as racism and sexism and the host of other human sins affect us all, so too anti-Judaism is promoted even by the best of institutions, the most progressive of theologians, and the most sensitive of those who work for justice and peace.

I'll tell you something. I cringe when I see that Barack Obama's middle name is Hussein. I get nervous when I read that as a young child he attended a Muslim school in Jakarta. But when I learn that his pastor is a follower of liberation theology and that such theology contains "anti-Jewish obscenities," I am horrified ...
and terribly curious to know more.

Now Obama's supporters will tell you (and actually do say - see comments) that he is being unfairly attacked, even "swiftboated," if anyone dares to bring up his early Muslim education. Apparently, it's not PC to raise questions about that -- NOR, I assume, will it be considered politically correct to ask about the type of Christian theology he accepts as an adult.

I'd like to ask what Obama remembers from the Islamic school. I'd like to ask if his current religious beliefs are tainted by notions of Black supremacy, as portrayed by Erik Rush. I'd like to ask if he embraces liberation theology, as does his pastor. If so, I'd like to follow up by asking his response to the charge that liberation theology is intrinsically anti-Jewish.

I feel like I'm playing "Mother, May I?" and the answer is No.

There's a reason Pinch Sulzberger is pushing Obama's Hawaii Childhood, post-Jakarta-madrassa. When considering who might best lead the free world and who will set the tone for the United States' alliance with the Jewish state of Israel.... the Left would have you think no further than pleasant images of pineapples and leis.

Barack Obama, third from left at rear, in 1972 with his fifth-grade class in a photograph from Na Opio, the yearbook of the Punahou School. (AP Photo)

So saith Dhimmedia. Who am I to argue?

UPDATE: It occurs to me that Black Liberation Theology is not exactly what was being referenced in the article I linked, but according to Wikipedia, they are related, so I assume my argument is still valid. If you know more than I do and think I have made a mistake, please write to me via the email link at top left.