“Lift Him up to Jupiter and Mars!” sings a middle-school church choir, their matching red shirts moving in unison, their faces beaming with innocence—yet they may be too young to realize that just a few feet to their left, one of the most villianized and controversial figures of the past year shares the stage. He wears a simple suit, sits patiently and clutches a towel that, though the temperature inside causes some in the capacity crowd to fan themselves, will probably not be needed for the interior heat. He’s about to work up a sweat the old-fashioned way: preachin’. Before Joe the Plumber was mentioned approximately 280 times during the final presidential debate and before the Bill Ayers hoopla started gaining steam, the buzz figure in the 2008 election was then-Senator Obama’s crazy-talking Pastor from the Trinity United Church of Christ, the boisterous and ear-splitting Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Jr., who has kindly accepted an invitation to preach tonight for Lisle’s DuPage AME Church Thanksgiving Eve service. As the DuPage Pastor introduces Wright, he explains the invitation to speak actually came almost a year ago, before Wright’s sermons became weekly national news and the media circus began. He says he was asked if the Reverend would still be speaking, and he responded, “‘I know to what you refer. But nothing has happened for me to dishonor that invite.'” This line garners huge applause, a standing ovation, and with rousing approval, the 67-year-old Wright perks up to speak. “I ain’t come for the gossip,” he says. “I come for the Gospel.” And for a while, it seems he’ll just focus on good old Jesus—whose name he can absolutely belt when he want to: “Jeeee-sus!” he screams at the climax of one of his arguments. The electric piano and the bongos from the band, the cries of “Preach!” and “Yes!” from the audience and the shrill cries of Wright all come together in thunderous harmony.
“The government is lying, the media is lying, wake up and smell the oil!” Whoa? Where did that come from? Seems like somewhere along the way, he started talking about the Biblical Jews—”the oppressed people, the pawns of the government” and that may have led to “forty-seven million people don’t have health care” and then, later on, “we’ve had eight years of BS. That’s ‘Bush’s Stuff,'” another line that really brings the house down. But how he manages to connect the dots from Biblical banter to political lectures is a little hazy. No doubt, even with the world watching him, Wright will say what he wants. At one point, as he tells the story of a blind man trying to get the attention of Jesus, he bellows, “They tried to shut him up—and he turned the volume up!” And while the remark was referencing the blind man, one has to wonder if Wright could also be talking about himself. (Andy Seifert)