Getting Wright the Second Time

I had thought that I had set up a recording of Bill Moyers’ Journal Friday night. The Reverend Jeremiah Wright was Bill’s guest. Then at 9:30 pm, I noticed that the recording light on the DVR wasn’t on, and soon I figured out why; the local PBS station, WMHT, was having its @#$%^&* fundraising auction! Fortunately, I could find the remaining part of the program on a secondary WMHT channel on cable.

I found Jeremiah Wright to be far more thoughtful and less vitriolic than the snippets would suggest. In fact, of those snippets, Reverend Wright said, “When something is taken like a sound bite for a political purpose and put constantly over and over again, looped in the face of the public, that’s not a failure to communicate. Those who are doing that are communicating exactly what they wanna do, which is to paint me as some sort of fanatic…”

I was intrigued to find that Reverend Wright’s “infamous” sermon of September 16, 2001 was based on Psalm 137. You may know the first six verses of that psalm from the reggae song “By the Rivers of Babylon”. But I recall a former pastor of mine, last time this scripture came up in the lectionary, talk about what a difficult scripture it was to preach on:

1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.

2 There on the poplars
we hung our harps,

3 for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD
while in a foreign land?

5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill .

6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.

7 Remember, O LORD, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
“tear it down to its foundations!”

8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is he who repays you
for what you have done to us-

9 he who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.

I hope you take the time to watch the video and/or read the transcript of Bill Moyers’ interview of Jeremiah Wright, rather than have the soundbites dictate your opinion of him.


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