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Wright On, Bishop Jakes

Bishop T.D. Jakes
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Dallas’ Bishop T.D. Jakes has launched his own blog, and he steps right into the fray with a lengthy post about the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy. True to form, Jakes avoids political hard lines and instead gives insights designed to provoke the consciences of blacks as well as whites. He does think the Wright controversy is an attempt by the media to discredit Barack Obama, and he offers high praise for the candidate’s speech on race and its result -- that it got everyone talking about this difficult, perilous subject.

Jakes notes that Wright’s “infamous sermon” -- not sure exactly which one he’s referring to -- “sounded angry.” He notes that many blacks “feel left without true vindication,” but “we are not monolithic, and all blacks do not all agree with him…” The bishop observes what I have seen in my mostly black church circle: Every preacher and spiritual leader I know is wrestling with how to respond in 2008 to the lingering effects of this country’s racist past and the anger and resentment that still exist.

Do we reject and invalidate anger altogether as we seek a response that aligns with the Word of God and Jesus’ command that we forgive just as we have been forgiven? Or do we call ours a righteous anger and continue to illuminate and speak against the wrongs of the past and present while running the risk that we stoke even more anger and bitterness? For Christian men and women of conscience who seek to exemplify justice as well as mercy, this is a very difficult balance.

Jakes points to something that few white Americans understand about racism, because it’s nearly impossible to grasp without having experienced it yourself:

While I know the inclination for some is to simply say, “Just get over it!” and move on, the reality for many people is racism is as difficult to get over as molestation is to a child. Whenever the vulnerable, powerless one is abused by the controlling party or the power figure, the fall-out goes on for years. This leaves anger, pain, and gross and massive dysfunction. Enslaving, dominating, or degrading people makes adults live with fear like an abused child. Yet there has to be a day, or a way, in which we can find the restoration that the Bible promises -- and that our world so desperately needs to go forward. There is more needed than the release of funds, a check here or there and a foot-washing ceremony.

Now those are profound words. To me, they carry much more weight than the Reverend Wright’s angry sputterings, because Jakes has been a true agent of reconciliation while building his huge interracial, interethnic worldwide ministry. --Julie Lyons

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