Future President of the USA?

If you live in Illinois and you haven't been hiding under a rock the past two years, you are likely familiar with the name Barack Obama...he is one of your senators after all. Even if you aren't from the great state of Illinois, you may very well remember him delivering the key note address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. I just so happened to be living in Boston that summer, so I followed the convention very closely. Despite all the terrorist threats and Homeland Security color-coded warnings (it was orange, or mauve, or some color that is supposed to invoke fear and make us head for the hills), my brother and I survived and we even ventured down to the Convention to watch the picketers and the millions of armed forces trying to ward them off.

I listened to the freshman senator's address to the Democratic audience, and I have to say, he is one charismatic, confident and well-spoken individual. Let's be honest, his speech trumped any of the other political superheroes that made their way on stage. So, ever since then the guy has had my attention and has certainly pricked my curiosity. Today he stands as the only African-American US senator and many are touting him as a future President of the United States of America. One year ago, the polls showed that Hillary (please no) was going to be the top choice in '08 for the Democrats...but today many aren't so sure that Obama may be a better choice. He has the advantage of riding a huge wave of popularity and no shady voting record in the senate, but he also comes with a lack of experience under his belt. If history serves as a guide, Obama may want to consider waiting, because John Edwards ran too early in '04 and suffered the consequences. Obama doesn't have the advantage of being a Democrat from the south like Edwards, who could potentially bridge the gap across the Mason-Dixon line, but is from heavy-hitting Chicago-land and is a man with conviction and integrity.

So, love him or dislike him, the reality is I believe that we should get to know him. In an age when so many are too quick to judge, hold prejudices and swear off anyone who comes from the "other wing," I would hope we could have respect for our national leaders (that God has put in place - Rom.13:1) and seek to form an educated, well-rounded understanding of them. In light of that, I want to just share with you some of what I came across today about Senator Obama from a recent convention that was assembled to address the issue of poverty and injustice in our world. It was a faith-based convention with Sen. Obama giving the keynote address (again...I get the feeling some people might be trying to push him towards the White House).

For many, the words "faith and politics" stir anger and discontent, for others it leads to a heated discourse, yet others remain in complete silence. Sen. Obama walks the narrow road to address the marriage of faith and politics, suggesting that the Democrats have abandoned faith which motivated "great reformers" in our country, such as Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., and which they used "repeatedly" to "futher their cause." He states that "secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door when they enter the public square." Sen. Obama, in his speech, was quite open and honest about his personal testimony of coming to know Jesus Christ, but he is also quite frank about his convictions regarding finding a common polity in the midst of a pluralistic society. He has a point in that we'd be lying if we said trying to form a political agenda for the people of America based on Christian convictions would be an easy task (Obama says, who's convictions or which scripture passages would be our guidlines...Leviticus? Dueteronomy? The Sermon on the Mount?). What I love about this particular speech and this particular convention is that they are addressing poverty. Jesus did come to preach good news to the poor, after all. So, enough of my talking, here are the links.

The senator's speech in it's entirety (about 42 minutes). I listened to it and I encourage you to as well. Scroll halfway down to find the link for the streaming audio:
http://go.sojo.net/sojourners/notice-description.tcl?newsletter_id=3517400&r=

The entire transcription of Sen. Obama's address:
http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2006/06/obama_on_faith_and_politics_an.html

An article discussing Obama's stance on faith and politics:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/28/AR2006062801970_pf.html

PS, if you read or listen to the speech, you'll hear about an email from a doctor in Chicago written to Obama...I felt that I really resonated with his sentiments.

3 comments:

Chairman said...

Interesting piece. I'm going to look at a topic of politics and faith from a different angle.

I think that many of the right-winged political folks have done a great disservice to the Christian faith by pushing things that are borderline to faith (though they may be a part of religion) and attempting to take issues of faith into the political realm.

For example, I have a hard time seeing stem cell research as a "faith" issue, and yet somehow it's become a mainstream "Christian" position to oppose it. I think that somehow we've lost track of the difference between faith and religion. And somehow Christians have been drawn into this immigration debate and been given views from the pulpit.

The problem with this isn't that Christians can't have individual views about things. That is, of course, very welcome. However, when the Church takes a stance on an issue, there's a very different feel and it's accepted by the rest of the population in a very different way. And there are points where the Church takes positions that makes my eyebrows raise. There are many issues to which I have a hard time seeing God taking a stance on that end up being used in a very matter-of-fact way by the Christian right (those pro-gun signs you see on the freeway that are followed by a Bible verse or other God-related message come to mind).

Given the track record that we've seen of political entities confusing faith with religion, I am nervous when I hear about mixing religion with government. Faith is a relatively simple thing. Religion gets really complex. The core of Christian faith boils down to the two greatest commandments. Most things beyond that are beyond where I want the Church influencing government - let the Church stick with taking care of what it knows and let other people handle the rest.

-Chairman

Micah said...

Thanks Jonathan. I think you're right: like him or not, I think we should get to know him a little.

fred said...

His talk is worth a listen.

I'll admit that I wouldn't describe myself as politically well informed, but this was a very interesting stance on faith in politics.

I think we're quick to assume that the evangelical role in politics is very black and white: vote the issues. But Obama suggests an interesting middle ground...hard ot explain concisely.

Anywho, make sure you check out the hot pockets post.