By making this faulty comparison
This week I talked to a young man, an Irish-American to whom I said, "Am I wrong not to feel anger about Wright?" He more or less saw it as I do, but for a different reason, or from different experience.
He said he figures Mr. Wright's followers delight in him the same way he delights in the Wolfe Tones, the Irish folk group named for the 18th-century leader condemned to death by the British occupying forces, as they say on their Web site. They sing songs about the Brits and how they subjugated the Irish and we'll rise up and trounce the bastards.
My 20-year-old friend has lived a good life in America and is well aware that he is not an abused farmer in the fields holding secret Mass in defiance of the prohibitions of the English ruling class. His life has not been like that. Yet he enjoys the bitterness. He likes going to Wolfe Tones concerts raising his fist, thinking "Up the Rebels." It is good to feel that old ethnic religious solidarity, and that in part is what he is in search of, solidarity. And it's not so bad to take a little free-floating anger, apply it to politics, and express it in applause.
He knows the dark days are over. He just enjoys remembering them even if he didn't experience them. His people did.
I know exactly what he feels, for I felt the same when I was his age. And so what? It's just a way of saying, "I'm still loyal to our bitterness." Which is another way of saying, "I'm still loyal." I have a nice life, I'm American, I live far away, an Englishman has never hurt me, and yet I am still Irish. I can prove it. I can summon the old anger.
Is this terrible? I don't think so. It's human and messy and warm-blooded, as a human would be.
The thing is to not let your affiliation with bitterness govern you, so that you leave the Wolfe Tones concert and punch an Englishman in the nose. In this connection it can be noted there is no apparent record of people leaving a Wright sermon and punching anyone in the nose. Maybe they're in search of solidarity too. Maybe they're showing loyalty too.
Peg, Revrend Wright is not summoning the old anger. He is summoning whackball bigotries and conspiracy theories of the present.
Which ain't the job of the church, I might add. The church is supposed to heal the rifts between humanity and God and those among humnans. Wright acts contrary to the latter mission.
Labels: Culture, Politics