Sunday, July 08, 2012

Webster, Southern Baptists & Togetherness


Larry Webster is a columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader and can always be depended upon to provide a witty commentary on the times, often juiced-up with some poignant semantic-bombs dispatched toward a given group.  In the 8 July issue, he took dead aim at the Southern Baptists, who in their recent annual convention elected an African American (Webster didn’t give him a name) to be its president. 

On the basis of his collective writings when any of them pertain to religion (anyone’s), Webster would probably fall somewhere between being an atheist or an agnostic, though he might even be a Presbyterian just having some fun masquerading as a worldly-wise elitist, much smarter than God, of course, but humble enough to be a hillbilly, which he is.

Southern Baptists are a favorite target of the liberal establishment, mostly because they take definitive, often negative stands on subjects that liberals virtually glorify, such as homosexuality (Baptists see homosexual behavior as sin besides as loony tunes).  Also, other than the Catholic Church, the SBC is by far the largest denomination in the country, about 16 million members, with children counted only as they join, not as members because of being in member families. So, jealousy plays a part in Baptist-hating.

Webster lampooned the Baptists because of their electing the black to the highest SBC office and used the biblical (at least according to some scholars) fingering of Ham, Noah’s son, as being the “first brother,” i.e., taking over Africa.  Not to discriminate, Webster also implied that a “brother” would likely wear a huge gold cross on a chain around his neck.  Get it…a chain around his neck – liberal-think…those sinful slave-mongering Southern Baptists!  Webster says that the new black president probably is unchained, however.  Unchained…get it…those wooly Southern Baptists have set him free and even reconfigured him as Moses.

Webster then leaves that subject and devotes some paragraphs to lampooning Jesus, or at least the folks who believe he existed, perhaps appreciating him as a “kind of unisex and quasi-hippie … taller than the sheep,” at least if he should make the scene at a Theme Park, perhaps played by Turtle Man, whose water-experience would make him a likely Baptist, probably Southern, at that, with the sheep replaced by alligators or turtles or catfish.

However, Webster provokes thought, to wit, that it’s about time to stop making a huge issue out of every achievement by an African American that is considered a “first” for his race.  The Southern Baptists themselves made a huge issue of this matter, detracting from the more cogent facts accruing to the sterling qualities of New Orleans pastor Rev. Fred Luter, the new president.  This pervasive “first” designation actually belittles the person involved, implying that people of his race are not capable and are chosen only because of ethnicity.

Luter’s Franklin Ave. Baptist Church grew from a handful of people to 7,000 members by 2005, when Hurricane Katrina destroyed its building.  He led in getting his membership back and building a new church, which is now not large enough, necessitating plans for building another facility.  This is just one indication why he is more than able to handle the president’s responsibility.

Southern Baptists, perhaps in the light of the constant demand for “reparations” to current blacks for the “sins” of pre-Civil War whites, passed a resolution of apology in 1995 for pre-Civil War Baptists and presented it to leaders of the large black Baptist denominations, who scorned the apology, one even accusing the SBC of attempting to proselytize blacks from their churches, if memory serves.  One of the highest-profile leaders in the reparations movement is the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah (God damn America) Wright, President Obama’s mentor and former pastor.

This points up the fact that a person or group can’t apologize for something for which he/it was not responsible, any assumed guilt-trip notwithstanding.  It also points up the fact that trying to “orchestrate” togetherness for groups, especially those marked by a profound homogeneity, may not be a good idea. 

In the case of churches on the basis of the construct of the worship service alone, it may not even be possible in 95% of possibilities, owing to the different approaches by blacks and whites.  People should be left to simply gravitate toward the exercise or group-thing that is the most attractive or in which they have the best shot at doing good, assuming that the invitation has been extended.

As for Webster and his slamming of the Southern Baptists, the devil made him do it, of course.  The SBC supports over 10,000 missionaries, half in the Americas and half around the world, some in dangerous and hardship-driven locations.  They don’t just talk the walk, obviously, but walk the walk – and do the hands-on sometimes dirty work – healing, teaching, disaster-relief, etc.  When Webster sets up a system that large to do good…then, he can crow, and maybe even substitute for Turtle Man.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

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