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:
The entire transcription of Sen. Obama's address:
An article discussing Obama's stance on faith and politics:
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.