Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sins Of The Fathers...

Appeared Fri., Sept. 11, 2009 in the San Angelo Standard-Times and the Brownwood Bulletin, two of the best West Texas dailies.

The weeks of ranting and raving that President Barack Obama was going to pollute the minds of our school children with socialist ideas; push his health care plan; found a youth corps like Hitler; make kids wear Mussolini brown shirt-type uniforms; proved to be only the willingly uninformed "unwashed masses," as the great sports writer Blackie Sherrod would write in the old Fort Worth Press, and proved the ranting slander and raving rumors to be only that.

I read of a Broadway show critic who grew weary of going to the theater and was fed up writing about the same old musicals and dreadful dramas. So he decided he would just read publicity packets about a show and write some glowing words about it without taking in production.

He always got his stories in early. For a while it went well. Then one night a theater caught fire in the middle of the second act and pandemonium erupted out into the streets. The next morning's paper printed how much he enjoyed the third act that night. Some proof reader probably lost his job as well as the critic.

You can be sure your sins will find you out! I don't care much for picking around in the Bible to prove a point, but this last phrase of the King James Bible, Numbers 32:23, is so clear and to the point, I had to throw it into the mix. (Read on, there is a point to this use of scripture.) This phrase of a verse is pretty final. Not that "your sins might find you out," or "some of your sins will find you out," but the ancient writer wants you to be sure you realize your sins will find you out! Tack on the word in the Ten Commandments that says the sins of the fathers can be visited on the sons for generations.

I am sure those who take the Holy Bible to be without error will understand this phrase immediately. Most ultra-conservatives and fundamentalists Christians admit to the inerrancy of scripture. I don't share that viewpoint, though the spiritual message throughout the Bible is one I appreciate, value and believe.

I was at the grocery store right after the president's talk and I asked the lady behind me at the checkout counter what she thought of the speech. She said she was a teacher and it was not shown in San Angelo schools. She was looking forward to seeing it though. I could tell she was not in favor of the frantic decision not to allow students to view it live.

The overwhelming vehement opposition to our president giving a speech to our school kids was a most unexpected phenomenon to me. I don't know much about how the Methodists, Presbyterians or Roman Catholics reacted to the proposed speech, but I have been flabbergasted (a real word and sick feeling) at the response of all kinds of Baptist in our land.

"Unhinged Southern Baptists, Republicans Slam Obama's School Speech," is an essay by Robert Parham, executive editor of and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. His closing words in the essay have been in my mind for years.

Editor Parham has much more access to the smears, accusations and the like from Baptists across the nation than I have. I do know there is an uncanny lack of appreciation among too many "active" Baptists. At one church, back when we went to mid-week suppers, I was told by someone-old-enough-to-know-better that Obama was born overseas and was a Muslim to boot.

I am glad I am from West Texas and not the north Texas county known as Oklahoma. They have two senators in Washington who are nearly as determined as Senator Snake-in-the-Grass (that is what a friend of mine called the senior senator from Iowa), to see our president fail. Plus an Oklahoma state senator who compared Obama to Saddam Hussein or the emperor of North Korea. Obama starting a cult of personality.

I don't know if any of these senators are Baptists or not, but Oklahoma state representative Sally Kern said Obama's speech would be "more about indoctrination of students than education." Her husband just happens to be Steve Kern, pastor of the Olivet Baptist Church, somewhere in Oklahoma. He agreed with his wife.

Go online and read the many respected Christian groups who do not like having a black president.

Now to the subject that has been in my mind and heart for more than a generation. Robert Parham is the first to write about "my dreaded idea." It is this: when back in the 1950s our courts ordered desegregation in our schools, the race was on for the whites and their children to flee to the suburbs. That was to keep the white children from black children in public schools. Private schools or academies sprang up all over the country, many were begun by white churches. That is the legacy of private schools today.

It should make reasonable people look at history and look at the hatred toward a black president (remember there was no gripes when Reagan or George H.W. Bush did the very same thing). Are the sins of the fleeing whites being visited upon their sons?

Many on the street and in congress opposed civil rights after the court decision to give blacks equal opportunities to study. The south turned Republican in those days and is not over it yet. Parents opposing civil rights, 100 years after blacks were supposed to have them, has continued opposition to blacks from generation to generation.

Robert Parham closed his essay with this question: "Is that what this unhinged moment is really about—racism from generation to generation?"

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