03/14/2008 07:33 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

When what's good gets ya

Barack Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ... here in Raleigh that congregation has been on the front lines for as long as I've lived here to oppose war, oppose the exploitation and demonization of the poor, fight racism, xenophobia, sexism, ands homophobia, and provide the core cadre for the region's Peace Action.

Reverend Doctor Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite -- a Church of Christ minister and the President of the Chicago Theological Seminary in Obama's home state -- is a fierce social activist.

Obama's pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright -- one of the most respected Black pastors in the country -- is not as 'measured' in his pronouncements as a politician. He believes in the Christian social gospel and its demand for speaking truth to power:

An ABC News review of dozens of Rev. Wright's sermons, offered for sale by the church, found repeated denunciations of the U.S. based on what he described as his reading of the Gospels and the treatment of black Americans.

"The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," he said in a 2003 sermon. "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."


Oh well... there goes. The patriot-baiting opportunity this presents is, of course, irrresistible, even though Obama is already playing Peter with his pastor.

Luke 22:34 - And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.

Here is the proverbial pachyderm of US politics, and an inconvenient one for the programmatic left who will cheer on Reverend Wright -- as I am, enthusiastically. The left has no popular base in US politics. The taboos associated with Dr. Wright's words are so powerfully entrenched in the American psyche (for now) that they are, for all practical purposes, impregnable.

We've got no game in elections, except as provocateurs... which is why we should seek no more or less than to provoke.

Our work is still cut out for us in unmasking the powers. We are not yet prepared to engage them, except by our living examples.