May 16, 2008


Jeremiads (Leon Wieseltier, 5/28/08, New Republic)

[W]right's tribute to Farrakhan's service to black literacy is vitiated by an extraordinary riff in another sermon in the series, called "Faith in a Foreign Land," in which he denounces the usurpation of African traditions by "Babylonian," or Western, traditions in the education of "exiles," or African Americans: "These exiles became schooled in Babylonian literature, from Beowulf to Virginia Wolfe [sic], and their heritage was wickedly wiped away from the tissues of their memory banks. They became skilled in Babylonian philosophy from Descartes to Meister Eckhart, from Immanuel Kant to Jean Paul Sartre, from existentialism to nihilism, from the dialectical materialism of Karl Marx to the wissenschaftlichkeit [sic] of Martin Heidegger. " This whole passage is a little sic. To mock Shakespeare, in a black church in Chicago, as "Babylonian Shakespearean literature"--that is nihilism. To exclude young African Americans from the mental ambition represented by such books is to defeat them. [...]

Yet here is Cornel West, camp follower of all false prophets, including Wright: "The distinctive features of prophetic activity are Pascalian leaps of faith in the capacity of human beings to transform their circumstances, engage in relentless criticism and selfcriticism, and project visions, analyses, and practices of social freedom." Or more concretely, "populist, feminist, trade- unionist, socialist, or Red, Green, and Black politics." What Bible does this son of man read? But contemporary prophecy, you see, is another name for the left. The equally countercultural wrath of John Hagee or Pat Robertson is not "critique." Whereas Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis, James Cone, Audre Lorde, Maulana Karenga--they are prophets all. Was prophecy ever so easy? An anti-Petraeus piece in The Nation, a jibe at the Patriot Act on Bill Maher, a rant at the National Press Club, and you are vatic. West also includes himself in the swelling population of the seers: in the eighth century B.C.E., Amos declared that he was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but in the twentieth century C.E., Cornel West declared, in the titles of two of his own books, that he is himself prophetic. Progressivism and the ego: now there is a subject! Sure, there are features of the prophetic temperament that Wright and the other Jeremiahs share--the unceasing excitation, the wild hyperbole, the fantastic promise of total transformation, the impervious radicalism, the imputation of personal election; but these are features of style. What distinguished the ancient prophets (if you believe these things) is that they enjoyed direct access to the godhead. Even their universal vision of social justice owed its authority to a supernatural revelation. But to whom do our prophets speak, except to each other and Bill Moyers?

...Marty Peretz is going to pull the lever for Senator Obama in November?

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 16, 2008 6:24 AM

The test of the "prophet" in the OT was whether what he said came to pass. Very simple, really. And they never claimed to be speaking for themselves.

Wieseltier (as usual) has nailed these guys - they speak for themselves only. And to Bill Moyers - very funny. Moyers, of course, purports to speak for the 'God' of the Left, not that nasty, rotten conservative Christian God. Moyers is Howard Dean, absent the tight veins and clenched jaw. And I'll bet Moyers would leave his church over even less than a bike path.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 16, 2008 10:08 PM