Saving Face over Faith; Pfleger removed from his pastorate

THIS is a blog I’d rather not feel moved to write. I’ve already set a task before me of a list of blogs that I was supposed to be writing exploring some of the issues surrounding the recent Democratic campaign events.  Pushing those issues further make making them less and less relevant. 

BUT, the fact that Cardinal George of the Chicago Archdiocese decided to suspend [yeah, ask Hillary Clinton for this definition of “suspend” and what it really means, talkin’ bout “suspending” campaign, wtf?!?!?!]  Father Michael Pfleger from the pastorate of the Faith Community of Sabina Roman Catholic Church.  Well, despite my own reservations about Roman Catholicism, I liked Fr. Pfleger.  His glowing bio on Wikipedia speaks volumes about his character as a pastor. His faith had moved him to actually do community activist things that actually lead to a physical and tangible betterment of the surrounding Auburn-Gresham community on the South Side of Chicago.

This was a guy who just hosted the birthday party of Maya Angelou, who’s friends with Oprah, who also endorsed Barack Obama, soooooo are we going to now go after Maya Angelou and Oprah en masse and call for their removal, or is it suspension, I’m getting the two confused.  Just look at the picture below with him flanked with the King’s, but folks want him removed. 

I’d REALLY be interested to see what folks would think of a Martin Luther King if he had given his 1967 Riverside Church sermon in 2008.

I mean Fr. Pfleger is a bad dude!

Now, let me first say I don’t like Cardinal George, never have.  I felt he was mealy mouthed and didn’t have a spine to save his life.  Chicago hasn’t had a decent Cardinal since Fr. Bernadin passed in 1998 from cancer.  By extension of my parents, I don’t like Cardinal Cody who I believe preceeded Cardinal Bernadin.  But Fr. Cody had threatened to remove Fr. Pfleger in 1981 when Pfleger decided to adopt a black male child.  So, for Cardinal George to remove Pfleger over this, but shuffled his feet on removing pedophiles from their pastorates…

(Pause….to get breath…)

Granted, I coulda seen this removal coming a MILE away, and yes I’m sure Stevie Wonder could have as well, but honestly, the South Side of Chicago had definitely been lulled into a stupor that Fr. Pfleger was an untouchable, because even I believed the hyped.  I mean, from a white guy with blue eyes who frequently preaches in Kente cloth, in front of a picture of black Jesus and chain smokes–I mean, he was a black church pastor, the church was his lock, stock and barrel!

Maybe he should just pull a Fr. George Stallings with Imani Temple and leave the Roman Catholic church, it’s not like they have a great track record historically with African Americans contrary to popular opinion.

I just think it’s really messed up that Cardinal George even removed Pfleger from the rectory.  Granted he’s not living on the streets, but he’s definitely not home; somewhere he’s been living for quite a few years now.

So, yes, this note is really another spiel solidifying this idea of social justice in the pulpit because yet again, Pfleger’s nearly 30 year ministry DEFINITELY far outweighs this ONE stupid comment about Hillary (which appears to be a sentiment if not shared by Hillary herself but by many of her supporters) and I’m ready to debate until the death that Pfleger made a true slip of the tongue when he said that “America is a…sin against God,” albeit a Freudian slip probably.

[I was unable to embed the above link, but this link provides context for Father Pflegers sermon in which he mocked Hillary Clinton] 

This is a bellwether moment for me, especially as someone planning to go into the ministry and I wonder are we going back to the days where black churches were watched by the white powers that be lest they said something that challeged the status quo.  Honestly, I consider this Trinity-watch nothing shy of the practices of local authorities in the era between the Civil War and the modern Civil Rights movement.  If someone fails to preach what falls into certain perameters, apparently as determined by whatever random, person, usually white, political pundit who’s never attended a black church on the regular to get a good feel for the ethos of the church.

So, it seems to me that Cardinal George was willing to save face rather than step out on faith that Pfleger was on to something with his radical judgments of the state of race relations in this country.   Especially juxtaposed to denominational presidents coming out to speak on and defend more or less the establishment of Trinity United Church of Christ and their association with Jeremiah Wright.  Is the church about saving face or about stepping out on faith that the direction they are headed is the direction where God is.  I guess its the age old debate about religion and politics mixing together (guess you could add race into the mix whenever applicable).

I mean, people compromise their faith just to save face all the time.  This is not even remotely a new tactic that Cardinal George is using.  It’s called opportunity costs: are you willing to give up something in order to get something.

Just ask Barack Obama.

My question simply posed to the blogosphere is saving face worth more than your faith?  At what point are you willing to compromise?

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

5 thoughts on “Saving Face over Faith; Pfleger removed from his pastorate

  1. Read Howard Thurman’s ‘Jesus of the Disinherited.’ The question regarding opportunity costs of being followers of Jesus are addressed. Martin Luther King, Jr. carried this small but powerful volume with him. Standing on hope is hard!

    There is a real cost involved in standing–that cost is love–treating others the way you want to be treated. God is love. Love, freely given, should trump ‘saving face,’ seeking validation by flawed human beings instead of accepting our call (as Christians) to obedience. Love of God does not always reveal itself even in the behavior of those in leadership positions within the church universal.

    It is unfortunate that one’s ‘doing of one’s theology’ is discredited. As Christians, too many of us don’t walk the talk because we are afraid of following Jesus’ teachings because of what people think about our work and our walk and our talk.

    Dr. Wright and Fr. Pfleger will be fine, the faithful of Trinity UCC and St. Sabina will be fine simply because God is. Speaking truth to power is fraught with peril–for the truth-speaker and for the hearers-only.

    Keep on keeping it uppity

  2. In the book Domination and the Arts of Resistance, the author argues that a “hidden transcript” is the discourse that was never intended to be made public.

    I think we forget that, because of the history of segregation and parallel segregation of the church, the sanctuary (literally) of a black church served for generations as a safe space to express the hidden transcript of the lives of many persons on the wrong side of the US “American dream.”

    No one was paying attention to us, so we could say what was really true. And we knew we were safe to do so.

    When the hidden transcript becomes public (Wright/Pfleger on national news) the impact is dramatic, and we should expect that it would be dramatic.

  3. Hello,

    Let’s not forget….Michael Pfleger used profanity in the pulpit. It was recorded on tape.

    This is not the first instance of his inappropriateness when he was at the sacred desk.

    Punitive action is needed when lines are crossed in a way that maligns the witness of the Church.

    Pfleger will likely start his own church as an independent and he will have an immediate congregation that follows him because he is still highly respected and influential.

    Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

  4. To BWBTT,

    Please forgive me if this sounds offensive and comes off as a personal attack, but this, yet again, was normal Fr. Pfleger operating in his element. What he said was no different than what he’s been saying for the last 30 plus years. He’s cursed in the pulpit and said what some would consider far more inappropriate words from the pulpit than just “Damn” and “Hell.”

    Honestly, I think people need to somehow get over him using curse words to jolt people’s reality. Saying it with normal words hasn’t seemed to get the job done; like people only want to deal with the truth on their terms when often times the truth is uncompromising.

    The overarching theme to this blog was more pointed at Cardinal George. It seems that this time since Pfleger finally had garnered the attention of the national press that he finally bowed to the gods of MSM. Cardinal Cody, Cardinal Bernadin and Cardinal George have all had their opportunities to dismiss or remove Pfleger. I just think it’s interesting that Cardinal George used this opportunity to do so. I think it flies in the face of standing on one’s convictions and moreover, for me, it calls into question to whom is Cardinal George beholden to: God, the Pope or the gods of mainstream media.


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