EXTRA: The Faith of Barack Obama

October 27, 2008

My wife read this book and posted on her blog, but I thought it was worth sharing with my readers as well.

The Faith of Barack Obamais a fascinating, well-researched, fast-paced book. If you’re still undecided about who to vote for, are confused about how Obama has lured the masses (it’s not a spell) or if you just want some insight into this man’s faith, you must get this book. It’s 7 days to the election, I know. This book will give you lots of insight, no matter what happens. The author doesn’t seem to be an Obama supporter. He treats the issues with an even hand, and offers thought-provoking commentary and analysis on the political process, historical and contemporary historical figures and the current players in the presidential race.

The most enlightening part of the book is how it explains why Obama is so popular. He’s very much a postmodern Christian who is fluid with his beliefs and open about his doubts. It resonates with the culture.


“Religiously, the majority of America’s young are postmodern, which means they do faith like jazz: informal, eclectic, and often without theme. They have largely rejected organized religion in favor of a religious pastiche that works for them. They think nothing of hammering together a personal faith from widely differing religious traditions, and many acquire their theology the same way they catch colds: through casual contact with strangers. Thus, when Obama speaks of questioning certain tenets of his Christian faith or the importance of doubt in religion or his respect for non-Christian religions, the majority of the young instantly relate and welcome his nontraditional faith as a basis for his — and their — left-leaning politics.”

“He does not use the language of the traditional convert to Christianity. He is the product of a new, postmodern generations that picks and chooses its own truth from traditional faith, much as a man customizes his meal at a buffet.” When looking for a church Obama said “he was seeking a ‘vessel’ for his values, a ‘community or shared traditions in which to ground my most deeply held beliefs.'”


“For Obama, faith is not simply political garb, something a focus group told him he ought to try. Instead, religion to him is transforming, lifelong, and real. It is who he is at the core, what he has raised his daughters to live, and the well he will draw from as he leads. While Americans are used to religious insincerity from their political leaders, Obama seems to be sincere in what he proclaims. He embraced religion long before he embraced politics. Indeed, it was his faith that gave him the will to serve in public office, and the worldview of that faith that shaped his understanding of what he would do once he came to power.”

“For Obama, Bush is the face of the Religious Right, a movement that used faith to divide and conquer while in pursuit of political power, and then didn’t know hwat to do with that power once they had it in hand.”


“The details of McCain’s faith were sketchy. Though an Episcopalian, McCain began attending North Phoenix Baptist Church when he married his second wife, Cindy. Ever the maverick, he never agreed to be baptized — the confirmation of true faith in a Baptist church — neither did he ever officially join the church.”


“McCain will speak of a God whose blessing he seeks as he serves his country with honor. His opponent will likely speak in warm terms of a faith that fills the soul, of a mission that springs from the beloved words of Scripture. McCain will speak of tried-and-true values and of the American way. His opponent will speak of the teachings of Jesus and of making America a more righteous land. McCain will say that he prays, goes to church and reads the Bible, but then will say little more. His opponent will invite the press into Bible studies and distribute pages from spiritual journals written at transforming retreats. McCain will look like George Washington praying at Valley Forge. His opponent will hold a press conference after buying a personalized Bible at the mall.”

In addition, the author explains the whole Jeremiah Wright incident with dexterity and depth.


“Jeremiah Wright is not crazy. He is an educated man with four earned degrees, respected in his church and his denomination, who has been an honored voice of black America. … To claim him crazy and dismiss him from the scene without a hearing is to miss an opportunity to heal a grievous, festering wound.”

“[Obama’s] face stands out among them all [the other political candidates] It is black. It is under fifty in 2008. Interestingly, the author sees this point in history as a pivotal moment to heal historic wounds. “Perhaps this is a call for all of us to be more Christian than Republican, more American than Democrat, more noble and righteous than crassly and callously political.” Sounds like something Obama would say.

You can read an excerpt here.


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