the ‘out of context’ myth

02Apr08

I’ve listened to two of Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s sermons in their entirety. The sermon from Sept. 2001 twice.

I don’t agree with those who are claiming that the offending comments were taken out of context. That’s a specious claim. They are taken out of context only literally and the traditional usage and implications of the term taken out of context is not that something has been literally excerpted. When it is said that something is taken out of context it means specifically that comments or quotes are pulled in a way that distorts their meaning or intent.

Pastor Wright was PREACHING that American foreign policy led to 9/11. There’s certainly some truth in that and most on the left would agree that there’s some factual basis to Pastor Wright’s perspective. But it is certainly an accurate portrayal of Pastor Wright’s perspective and he was forcefully and emotionally offering that perspective from the pulpit of his, and Barack Obama’s, church, just a week after 9/11.

That is going to be offensive to many people in this county, even if they tend to agree with the Pastor’s point. And most won’t.

The excerpts do not in any way distort the intent of Pastor Wright’s comments. In fact, the opposite is true. They reflect his political feelings quite accurately. To say that he was taken out of context is just simply false. It is not a distortion of Pastor Wright’s position that is reflected in the excerpted videos. Those are his feelings and they are offensive and hostile and damaging, as are many of the controversial things that he has been caught preaching to his church and writing in the church bulletin.

It’s wholly irrelevant that in this case he preaches peace and love for most of his sermons. The negative moments are like a window opening up where he lets the congregate experience his real feelings and rage. There is no context wherein his sort of divisive and racist rage is acceptable and to suggest otherwise is wrong on so many levels none the least of which is simply the blind denial of the damage caused by having someone stand up there preaching in this way.

For the people in those pews, the message of negativity is very damaging. It’s old school poison like what you’d hear from that angry uncle. It’s destructive and negative and it holds people back which is completely counterproductive to Pastor Wright’s intent, I’m sure.

That is the danger of subjecting yourself to the teachings of a Pastor Wright and the danger, always, of such a highly politicized religious experience.

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