The Clairvoyant New York Times

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
March 24 2008 8:12 PM

The Clairvoyant Times

The Obama Messiah Watch, Part 11.

(Continued from Page 1)

The tone of the story grows ever-more desperate: "The Wright controversy is a natural topic for those in the United Church of Christ, a predominantly white denomination that includes Mr. Obama's and Mr. Wright's church, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago (the largest church in the denomination)." But not even the minister slotted to preach Trinity's Easter sermon—the Rev. James A. Forbes—will supply the Times' desperately sought confirmation that he intends to talk about Obama's speech. And this is where the whole controversy started! Talk about ingratitude!

In the entire Times piece, the only minister to be found addressing head-on the question of whether he'll preach about Obama's speech is the Rev. Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals and lead pastor at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minn. Unfortunately, Anderson's definitive answer is that he won't mention it, because Easter is about Jesus, not politics, and he doubts other evangelicals will, either. Rats.

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A small breakthrough near the story's end: The Rev. Kenneth L. Samuel, pastor of Victory Church in Stone Mountain, Ga., says he might discuss … theRev. Jeremiah Wright, whose controversial utterances supplied the occasion for Obama's speech. "The basic thrust of much of my preaching resonates with Dr. Wright," Samuel tells the Times. "I don't think I'm necessarily trying to preach people into anger, but I am trying to help people become conscious, become aware, to realize our power to make change in society." I interpret this to mean that if the Rev. Samuel mentions Wright, it will be to do precisely what Obama didn't do, i.e., defend Wright's angry and divisive statements.

In sum, we have an intensively reported Page One story that fails utterly to provide any evidence of its very appealing premise. Hence, divination. Perhaps the angel Gabriel came down from heaven to tell New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller that the nation's ministers would discuss Obama's speech. Or maybe the Times just figured that with all the Christian houses of worship that dot this great and good land, surely some of them would end up devoting some of their Easter sermons to Obama's speech. One man's "some" is another man's "many." If examples couldn't be scared up until after the fact, so be it.

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.

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