Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Some of Us Can Relate

Right-wing commentators are still whipping on the dead horse that is the Obama/Rev. Wright controversy, despite the fact that nobody else much gives a damn. Most people that wouldn't vote for him before won't anyway, and most people who would, will.

Pundits are puffing with outrage--why aren't they judging Obama as harshly as they would a white politician in the same bind? Why didn't he walk out in a rage on hearing Wrights's noxious opnions? Well, some of the 'tudes are widely shared, even if not P.C. ( I remember one columnist who was shocked that Wright stated that rich, white people controlled the country. I'm a midwestern, middle-American white lady, and I don't this is necessarily a far-out or inaccurate idea. The horror!). Beyond that, I think I know why people are accepting Obama's ambivalent attitude towards the pastor--rejecting the bigotry, and accepting what he likes about him.

The selective acceptance is something that Americans are used to doing all the time, especially if they are wimmenfolk. How many Catholic women sit in churches and listen to a condemnation of birth control that they may well use, and abortions that they may well have had, and keep their mouths shut without walking out in protest? Lots of Catholic women just ignore their spiritual leaders on one particular thing or another, or accept that the church where they put their money, time, and on whom they depend to educate their children will never be in their corner on particular aspects of how they live. Lots of older women accommodate the cluelessness of their church leaders in the same way they accommodate their clueless hubbies--by saying little, and listening even less.

But women aren't the only people. Many otherwise satisfied church goers accept that Pastor So-and-So has a wild hair about something. It might be some weird theological point, or a social issue, and when he or she preaches on that one point, it's aggravating. But the kids really like the youth pastor, and he keeps them busy with good activities. Or it's the denomination the family has always been a part of. Or his/her sermons are otherwise so down-to-earth and helpful, or the Pastor was so good to them when mom died, or was a real rock of Gibraltar when their marriage was in trouble. Churches touch on so many different points of people's lives, and in such emotional ways, that people don't do the p.c. thing when confronted with a particular thing they don't like. They view the church as a family that will, if they are lucky, comfort more than aggravate. But if it's occasionally a pain, you deal with it without abandoning the church or making a show of it. Just like the last family reunion.