Peggy Noonan had an interesting column this week. I almost didn’t finish it, but I am glad I did. She was commenting on the uproar over Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s various statements and said:
He seems like a bright man, warm, humorous and compelling, but also needful and demanding of the spotlight, a showman prone to crackpottery…
However, the key point is that she wasn’t angry as so many of her friends and acquaintances were. The reason is she thinks that while the whole situation is counterproductive and “part of the great ‘barbaric yawp,’ as Walt Whitman called the American people fighting, discussing, making things and living,” it is essentially not significant or definitive.
She likened Wright’s statements and Mr. Obama’s sitting under him in a church where these kind of statements would be made as “I am still Irish [Black]. I can prove it. I can summon the old anger” and a way to seek solidarity with the group you are part of. It does not define your day-to-day actions, the essence of who you are. It is similar to Confederate flags on the back of pickup windows (the South shall rise again) or hating the Yankees when they come to town to play your team. It is seeking a memory of solidarity as a sounding in the navigation of your life.
While I see Peggy’s point, I disagree with her about its significance. While I understand the Irish, Black, and other solidarity she alludes to, I think that in the end, if not outgrown, it evidences failure. It is not the evidence of a mature person, destined for significant leadership, but of an immature person, still spouting the raucousness of youth. It is not how someone leading a large Church should act, nor someone who seeks to be the President of the United States. We should hold our senior Pastors and our Presidents to higher standards than allowing them vent solidarity with bitterness.
This is especially true of those who claim the life of Christ as their own. “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:11) Leaders are supposed to be better than that. They are supposed to evidence what Paul told Timothy:
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lords servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. 2 Timothy 2:22-25a
Yes Peggy, I think you identified the issue, but failed to see the underlying failure. Your twenty something example did not fit grown mature men in positions of power, trust, and authority. You argument actually identified the problem more completely. Thank you for pointing that out, though that was not your intention. I am glad I finished the article.