(I was berated for using "unnecessary roughness" on a "real servant of God.")
Recently the Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., former pastor of Senator Barack Obama and of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, made the news again.
There is “no small stir” about a few statements of Rev. Wright that appeared in the November/December 2007 issue of his church’s publication The Trumpet. The Cybercast News Service (CNSNews.com) published an article, dated March 26, 2008, entitled “Obama's Pastor Slurs Italians in Latest Magazine.” The article states: “Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago where Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has been a member for two decades, slurred Italians in a piece published in the most recent issue of Trumpet Newsmagazine. In a eulogy ‘(Jesus') enemies had their opinion about Him,’ Wright wrote in a eulogy of the late scholar Asa Hilliard in the November/December 2007 issue. ‘The Italians for the most part looked down their garlic noses at the Galileans.’
"Wright continued: ‘From the circumstances surrounding Jesus' birth (in a barn in a township that was under the Apartheid Roman government that said his daddy had to be in), up to and including the circumstances surrounding Jesus' death on a cross, a Roman cross, public lynching Italian style. ...'”
I would like to address some fundamental errors made by Rev. Wright. I also want to say that I am an African American. According to the gospel of Luke, there was a proclamation from the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus that everyone in the Roman Empire was to be taxed and everyone, of all races and ethnic groups, had to register in their own cities. Joseph, Jesus' "daddy" according to Wright, and Mary, Jesus’ mother, had to register in Bethlehem. That was the Roman version of the IRS giving orders to everyone in the Roman world, including the white Greeks. So it had nothing to do with apartheid. Also, he cannot compare South Africa of years ago to ancient Judea which was under Roman military occupation. Rome was the outside controlling authority that ruled the known world of many nations, from white Greece to white Hispania (Spain) to white Gaul (France) to black North Africa which includes Egypt. There was no segregation based on race in that society such as that of apartheid South Africa. Even the Roman army was fully integrated, not segregated. There were black Africans marching next to the white Romans while they were conquering white Britannia (Britain).
Also too, I'm not sure what impression Rev. Wright wanted to make when he wrote "death on a cross, a Roman cross, public lynching Italian style." Those words would seem to indicate that the white Romans hated Jesus, a black man according to Wright, and wanted to see him dead. They finally caught him and "lynched" him, reminiscent to the tragedy of over 3000 blacks being lynched by white racists for several decades in the United States. Even a cursory reading of the New Testament will show Wright to be in error if he believes the death of Jesus Christ was an "Italian lynching." The religious leaders of that day wanted Jesus dead, and they delivered him to the Romans and begged for them to kill him. Pontius Pilate, the white Roman supreme governor of Judea, did not want to kill Jesus. John 18:28-31 (King James Version) says: "Then they (the religious leaders) led Jesus from Caiaphas unto the (Roman) hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover. Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor (criminal), we would not have delivered him up unto thee. Then Pilate said unto them, Take yet him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death...." In other we words, "We brought Jesus to you and it is your job as the Roman governor to execute criminals, not ours." And in John 18:38, Pilate says, "I find in him no fault at all." Therefore Pilate, one of the white Italians who ruled Judea according to Rev. Wright's description, had no motivation or inclination to kill Jesus at all. And Pilate's word meant life or death for anyone in Judea. But the religious leaders voices prevailed upon Pilate by their asking for the release of a murderer named Barabbas and demanding the death of Jesus. In other places in the New Testament, the religious leaders cried “Crucify him! Crucify him!”(Matthew 27:13, Mark 15:13-14, Luke 23:21, John 19:6). Pilate complied. Jesus was crucified.
The Romans had no interest in Jesus. All they were interested in were taxes and people not giving them any trouble. And it is an historical fact that living people pay taxes much better than dead people. Here is another fact. As I said, Wright believes that Jesus was black. I will agree with him. I also believe Jesus was black (but my theology does not depend on skin color. If Jesus was really white it would make no diference to me). Therefore, all of the Jewish leaders who hated him were black too, a fact that Rev. Wright did not seem to mention. Those black leaders sold Jesus, another black man, out to the white Romans. John 19:7 says, "The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God." The Romans could care less about Jewish laws and customs. Those black religious leaders also told Pilate that if he lets Jesus go, then he is no friend of Caesar (John 19:12). Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your king?" Those black religious leaders, replied, "We have no king but (white) Caesar" (John 19:15). It seems those black religious leaders were the real "sellouts" who were "lower than sea level,” using Wright‘s words.
Also Matthew 26:3-5 says, "Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas (all black people), and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people." Matthew 27:18 says, “For he (Pilate) knew that for envy they had delivered him.”
Would that not have been the first time in history that black men begged white men to lynch another black man – the most innocent Man in history? Was it not was not a calculated black conspiracy to murder, using the legal mechanism of the “white oppressors”?
As for the statement of Rev. Wright: “The Italians for the most part looked down their garlic noses at the Galileans,” here are some historical facts on garlic according to the website http://www.kingtutshop.com/: “The ancient Egyptians (who were black) used garlic in many ways, garlic were eaten, both as food and to repel agents of diseases. As a medicine Egyptians thought garlic and onions aided endurance, and consumed large quantities of them.
“Raw garlic was routinely given to asthmatics and to those suffering from bronchial-pulmonary complaints. In ancient Egypt, the workers who had to build the great pyramids were fed their daily share of garlic.
“It was also found in burial tombs including the tomb of Tutankhamen and in the sacred underground temple of the bulls at Saqqara.”
Therefore the ancient black Egyptians had garlic noses, had garlic breath, and had respect for garlic long before the Italian Romans.
(Brush up on your history, Rev. Wright....)
Like I wrote, I do believe that Jesus was black. However, if Jesus turned out to be white and the devil turned out to be black, I choose a white Jesus.
And yes, I believe the ancient Egyptians were black. Do we owe reparations to the Jewish people for 400 years of slavery during the time of Exodus? That makes black people the first slave masters long before the Europeans discovered they can be slave masters too.