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Friday, December 12, 2008

Wright is Still Wrong - Story from ChicagoTribune.com

Rev. Jeremiah Wright returns to pulpit at Trinity United Church of Christ

After church officials turn away reporters, former pastor blasts the media in his sermon

By Manya A. Brachear | Tribune reporter
December 8, 2008

For the first time since his retirement last spring, Rev. Jeremiah Wright returned to the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ on Sunday with two goals: glorifying God and vilifying the media.

In honor of Trinity's 47th anniversary, Wright preached three worship services in place of Rev. Otis Moss, who was attending his father's farewell from the pulpit of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland.

Citing the revelation to Mary by the angel Gabriel that she would conceive a child to be born the son of God, Wright said Mary's disbelief was similar to the doubts some faithful shared about the future of Trinity after Wright's retirement and the possibility of a black man being elected president.

"Our legitimate questions tend to be asked from the vantage point of limited horizons," said Wright during the 7:30 a.m. service. "Mary had a limited horizon. She couldn't see how it was possible."

"In almost every instance where I have encountered this phenomenon, what I have discovered is that the limited horizons are caused by the tendency to look for a person to provide you with answers for your legitimate questions," Wright said. "I really should say our legitimate questions, not your legitimate questions, because God knows I've got some questions myself."

Wright, Trinity's former pastor, gained prominence when President-elect Barack Obama in his memoirs cited the pastor's inspirational sermons. But shortly after Wright's final appearance in the pulpit at Trinity last February, he became the center of controversy when segments of past sermons surfaced on the Internet and replayed on cable news programs. Pundits questioned his patriotism based on sound bites, including one where he shouted, "God d... America!"

The resulting media onslaught fueled tension around an already sensitive transition and prompted Moss, Wright's handpicked successor, to implement strict guidelines for the media, banning cameras and instructing members not to grant interviews.

On Sunday, church officials turned reporters away from the worship service. But services were streamed live on the Internet, and audio and video recordings were sold in the church bookstore.

Wright said no amount of media coverage could dampen Trinity's spirit.

"Jesus said upon this rock I will build—listen to the promise—my church," he said. "And the gates of hell—listen to the promise—the gates of hell—neither ABC nor CNN—the gates of hell—neither Hannity nor O'Reilly—the gates of hell—neither Time, Time magazine, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune . . . the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Nothing will be impossible with God."

At the 11 a.m. service, Wright belittled "baby milk believers," who, he said, suffer a delusion that politics don't belong in the pulpit. He noted that "Luke the evangelist, not Wright the radical" lambasted the oppressive policies of the Roman government in the Gospel story that recounts Jesus' life.

"Any preacher who dares to point out the simple ugly facts found in every field imaginable is demonized as volatile, controversial, incendiary, inflammatory, anti-American and radical," Wright said.

Noting the date, Dec. 7, which marks the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Wright instead chose to focus on the thousands of Japanese civilians who died four years later when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.