Monday, August 25, 2008
Review: The Faith of Barack Obama
As I've mentioned, this year it has been really hard for this political junkie to get excited about the presidential election. I think the fact that one candidate has clearly expressed his faith, while the other is such a maverick left me wondering what to believe. Plus, if I never received another one of those forwarded emails about Obama's faith, it wouldn't be soon enough.
Two things have helped energize me -- I'm literally ready to call the party headquarters and squeeze time into my jam-packed schedule to help my candidate. First, there was the forum hosted by Rick Warren. I really liked the non-confrontational approach of being able to hear the candidates answer questions without interruption. The second was this book.
I read this book with an eye looking for signs of bias. I didn't want someone to tell me what I should think about Obama's faith. I wanted to better understand where he's coming from. And I think this book, The Faith of Barack Obama, did that for me. It gave me a fuller picture of his background and the church he's attended. We've all heard of some of the outrageous things Dr. Wright has said, but this book helped me understand where he's coming from. That doesn't necessarily mean I like it or agree, but I at least have a context.
It also highlighted the post modern nature to Obama's faith. This is a concept that is smacking me everywhere I turn, and I am searching to understand. It's like anything else, I need to understand it, so I can figure out where it diverges from what I believe and where there's common ground for a starting point.
The most helpful chapter for me was the four faces of faith. In that chapter the author contrasts Obama with John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and George W. Bush. It was hugely helpful for grasping where McCain is coming from, especially in the context of his answers in the forum.
The last thing that was dead on was the challenge that we need to recognize that Obama has made it okay to be a Christian and politically liberal. He and I disagree on that – but it’s happened nonetheless, and I think is a reality as politics moves forward.
So if you’ve struggled like I have, I commend this quick read to you.