Sunday, May 31, 2020

Has God "Damned" America or Has America "Damned" Herself?

Has God damned America or has America damned herself? is the question and topic of this post. In 2008 the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, then pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, and who now serves as the pastor emeritus of the church used the words "God", "damn" and "America" in the same sentence. He was juxtaposing this line with what is commonly said, which is "God Bless America."  The attention to this sermon came as then Senator Barack Obama was seeking the presidency as Senator Obama was a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ. Pundits tried to use Reverend Wright's sermon as one of the reasons that Barack Obama should not become President of the United States. The rhetoric surrounding the sermon was a usual divide and conquer tactic as well as yet another way to share distorted and "alternate facts" with the American Public. Thankfully, the tactic did not succeed even though it did cause some uneasy moments given the relationship between Senator Obama and his pastor. Ultimately, Barack Obama did become president and served for two terms and Reverend Wright's words have manifested into reality over and over again even up to the writing of this blog post in May of 2020. 

Definition of Damn

That's the Cliff Notes backdrop to this post today and my question that is an offshoot of Dr. Wright's statement in 2008. My question though is, Is God the one doing the damning, or is America damning herself? As a child raised in a Christian home, we were taught never to take or use God's name in vain and to steer away from profanity; in fact, of all of the profane or blasphemous words that could come out of one's mouth, "Goddamn"  was at the top of the list. That word you just did not use. You might be able to get by with "Hell," "Ass," and maybe even the "F" word; however, you just did not say the word "Goddamn." Yet, Rev. Wright was using the term in his sermon in a church, and in my view he was absolutely, one hundred percent correct. 

I had the honor of meeting Reverend Wright on a few occasions and he made a lasting impression on me each time. My first experience with Reverend Wright was at a Hampton University Ministers Conference in the late '80s or early '90s on the campus of Hampton University. His sermon title was Prophetic or Pathetic? and it was taken from 1 Kings, Chapter 13. I've never forgotten that sermon and have cited that very book of the Bible, chapter, and verse in prior posts as I see parallels between Trump and the character in that story Jeroboam. 

Will Smith
So here we are in 2020 making our way through a world-wide COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic while at the same time racial atrocities are continuously on the rise. Those of us on social media are encouraging readers to "Say the names" of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others who have not received major media coverage. Protests have broken out all over the country eerily similar to the protests during the '60s. I even wonder if Making America Great Again (MAGA) meant taking us back to the '60s because it is so strikingly similar. I guess Will Smith said it best where he is quoted as saying "Racism isn't getting worse, it's getting filmed." And even when it is filmed dating back and beyond to Rodney King, people of color wind up with the short end of the stick. The video of the gunning down of Ahmaud Arbery was immediately questioned upon release. Even when we are "seeing" it, the oppressors try to make us not believe what we are seeing. 

Going back to the Bible again, in 2 Chronicles 7:14, it reads:

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
In my view, America has not turned from her wicked ways nor has she humbled herself. If anything we have become more wicked even during this pandemic crisis. So to paraphrase this verse and put it into context and for the premise of this post, since we [America] are refusing to turn from our wicked ways or humble ourselves we are indeed "damning" ourselves. What else can you call it but damning when we are not hearing from God/Heaven because of what we keep refusing to do? It is not necessarily that God is damning America, however, we are damning ourselves with our behavior and lack of love for mankind and each other. Ahmaud, George, Breonna, and so many others were human beings just as their perpetrators are human beings. In a previous post, (There Are A Lot Of Things Wrong With This Picture) a woman held a sign that read something to the effect of her being human compared with a dog and a slave who I guess are not considered human. A dog is not a human; however, slaves were humans. Sadly, there are folks out there who treat dogs and cats better than they do fellow human beings. Amy Cooper, a Caucasian female had absolutely no reservations whatsoever about making a hysterical call to the police accusing Christian Cooper, a Black man (no relation) of harassing her when he was not knowing full well how the police would react to a White woman calling about a Black man harassing her (sound familiar - Emmett Till). That's what I mean by wickedness or us not turning from our wicked ways. The misery, hatred, and wickedness that is spewed from the White House whether it is by Tweet or from the microphone is the wickedness and not humbling of oneself that I am referring to. From where I sit, unless some big league or "Bigly" changes are made, our land is not going to heal and this pandemic may only be the beginning. I'm sure you Bible scholars out there know about the 10 Plagues. 

When I share THE CRITICAL THINKER across platforms, I always ask folks to read, think, reflect, and share. I really do not care if you agree or disagree; however, I encourage you as the reader to at least think about the premise of the post. Where are you based on the information that is written in the post? Are you a part of the problem or the solution? Are you the oppressor or the oppressed? I encourage you to ask yourself these questions and as always, thanks for reading, and of course, this is something to critically think about. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

When I read an online conversation and people were going back and forth about “why is this happening” and “what should we do,” I posted the same scripture in response (2 Chronicles 7:14). The answer is right there. We need to be humble before God, we need to pray, and we need to use other tools he has given us—WE need to VOTE.