Relatively uninhibited philosophizings on self and kosmos whenever the mood strikes...
Friday, August 08, 2008
Obama's Wise Distinction
Many people in and out of the media are wondering why Barack Obama is not doing better in the polls than he is. With the Republican Bush administration in such disfavor during an unusually challenging and dangerous time for this nation and the world as a whole, you'd think that Democrat Obama would be riding his undeniable charisma to overwhelming advantage over a bland old John McCain who seems bent on continuing most of the Bush approach to our sputtering economy, to a world of increasing international tensions, and to a war that the majority of Americans believe should never have been waged.
But not only is Obama not running away from McCain in the polls, but McCain has pulled into a virtual tie with him. This could change after the two candidates start debating each other face-to-face and after each side unleashes their big gun commercials. But I increasingly and sadly believe that, in the end, McCain will probably win the presidency. And one of the reasons I think this is that too many voters have been irrevocably turned off to Obama because of his longstanding association with Jeremiah Wright's church and with the controversial pastor himself. Too many people, who might otherwise have voted for Obama, won't now because they're afraid of what Obama's relationship with that church and with Wright may reveal about how he really feels about this country and white people, and you can be darn sure that Republicans will continue to fan and exploit this fear to the fullest possible extent from now till election day.
I wish everyone would read the Newsweek interview I just read, for it just might change some minds and votes back to Obama. The interview is with conservative Christian Stephen Mansfield, who recently wrote a book examining Obama's faith. In the interview, Mansfield offers an explanation of Obama's involvement with Wright and his church that makes a whole lot of sense to me. It's what I've always believed to be the truth but couldn't articulate as clearly as Mansfield does. Here is the gist of Mansfield's explanation in his own compelling words:
Most people who have gone to a church have had to grit their teeth through some sermon and perhaps walk away not agreeing with everything. I think if you've been to a church, especially with this black "prophetic preaching," which is a theological perspective that says pastors ought to comment on everything from the government to the economy, then we're not just going to talk about the joy, joy, joy way down deep in our hearts the way most white churches do. This preaching comes out of the postslavery years, where a pastor is the commentator on all things in society. So I think when you have that perspective and you're used to hearing someone comment on a variety of things, you don't necessarily have to share his perspective to be involved with the church. In fact, black pastors often—and I say this as a man who's worked with and preached in black churches—say extreme things to shift the lines a little and stir people up. So I am sure Barack Obama, sitting there, said, "This is a great church, love the people, but I don't agree with everything that's said." Again, he distinguished between the revelation of God and the personality of a man.