June 01, 2008

Free Will

I used a quote of Senator Obama's in my post, Lives Undone by Words of Reconciliation, which leads to question whether we as blacks have free will over our own destiny.

....wanted to spit in your face, he could, because he had power and you didn't. If he decided not to, if he treated you like a man or came to your defense, it was because he knew that the words you spoke, the clothes you wore, the books you read, your ambitions and desires, were already his. Whatever he decided to do, it was his decision to make, not yours, and because of that fundamental power he held over you, because it preceded and would outlast his individual motives and inclinations, any distinction between good and bad whites held negligible meaning. (85)
Has he forgotten the words of his youth, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. It has now happened in the political arena, not the Basketball court. Has he sold out using his freewill or was this predestined. No other candidate has had to leave their church or give up their faith in order to run for president. NONE ! All those who have questioned Barack Obama's faith; could not say that in fact they agree with all of the theology of their religion, that is if they even understand it. I can not say that being raised Presbyterian, that at the time, I ever was able to grasp the concept of predestination.

I am angry and didn't have the words to express my outrage over Senator Obama resigning from his church. In some ways I found the words, although they are not mine. From a quote in The Baltimore Sun's The Swamp, Obama's independence from that pulpit, by Mark Silva.
The Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, a Baptist minister and president of the Interfaith Alliance, calls it "a sad day in American politics and even sadder in American religion.''
"No candidate for the presidency should ever have to resign from or join a particular house of worship in order to be a viable candidate for that high office,'' Gaddy says. "To make such a decision for political reasons dishonors religion and disrespects the Constitution. This is a sad day in American politics and even sadder in American religion. Sen. Obama is at the center of the storm, but all who wed religion to partisan politics share responsibility for this tragic development."
This expresses some of my outrage, but it doesn't cover the way it has played in Obama's campaign. It has been used to shape what kind of black man Obama must be, beyond moral and just.

Silva begins his post with this.
On this Sunday when a candidate's church again has become the focus of his campaign - something which Sen. Barack Obama has attempted to resolve by removing himself from that congregation - many voices will be raised.
Although several Afrosphere bloggers have anticipated this here and here; I haven't heard a lot of voices yet, except the one in which Silva quotes.

Obama had failed, not that these events had been a test, but to withstand a minor crisis in his campaign; what will he do in a world crisis. He had also failed to understand that it will only cost him the voters who thought he understood his identity; the others will find some other issue to nick pick, so they can say it isn't race the reason that they aren't voting for him. Many will be glad he resigned, because now they feel he is the neutral race candidate. A Rev. Wright will not let those same people relax in their delusions about America, in fact Obama's association with what is considered too black, spawns unrest. What they want is the "Invisible Man". Isn't that what they thought he promised?

This brings me back to free will. One has to look at America honestly and not thought the eyes of what has been, but what is. For a person who is perceived to be black, society is a maze, with predetermined outlets to success; except that person enters without knowing about the maze, he only knows he will have choices to make and can anticipate what most will be. Since the maze is huge, there be many paths which are successful, which give him the confidence that his decision making has been good. Then one day there is a path that is a dead end and as he find his way out, he learns this has nothing to do with his good decisions.


Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

I'm sad to see him feel compelled to leave. Of the stuff that's been quoted from Trinity, to be honest, some of it I found offensive, for some of it I didn't see it as worth the big fuss about it, and some of it sounded better in context than when pulled out as isolated quotes.

I never suspected Obama of actually agreeing with the things Wright said that I would have objected to (and those things I do disagree with Obama about have little to do with Trinity), and I find it easy enough to understand why he'd find the church, and the retired pastor, appealing, even while not agreeing with everything that's said. After all, I've learned from priests that I didn't always agree with.

And, because he's candid about why he's leaving - saying that he doesn't want to have to answer for everything that's said from the pulpit there, but not pretending to actually be denouncing the church - I can still sympathize with him as he leaves. But I'm sad that he feels he has to.

And it bothers me that, in effect, people have to appear to be believing Christians to run for president, but can't do what most Christians I know actually do, which is to draw inspiration from some of what's said in church while not agreeing with everything.

Hathor said...

I wish more people had been bothered by this. In my limited search, I haven't found many.