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His mother was also multiculturalist long before that was cool. She would go so far as to take young Barack to Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and Hawaiian burial sites to expand his education — though not his spiritual awareness.
“Religion was an expression of human culture, she would explain, not its wellspring,” Obama wrote in his memoir, The Audacity of Hope.
“In sum my mother viewed religion through the eyes of the anthropologist that she would later become; it was a phenomenon to be treated with a suitable respect, but with a suitable detachment as well.”
THE CONSEQUENCE of exposing young Barack to so many religions was that he came away with no faith of his own. After all, if all faiths were equally an “expression of human culture” then how could any one be the true path to salvation?
Only later as a young lawyer in Chicago did Obama join Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church and become a Christian. Yet even after that Obama is careful to say, again and again, that he did not give up his religious skepticism.
“It came as a choice and not an epiphany; the questions that I had did not magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the south side of Chicago, I felt God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.”
But wait. If there wasn’t an epiphany, then how could he truly submit himself to God’s will? Obama doesn’t explain.
As John K. Wilson put it in Barack Obama: This Impossible Quest, “For Obama, Jesus isn’t a magical creature to be worshiped blindly; he’s a real person to be imitated for his moral example. What’s important to Obama about Jesus is not the Night of the Living Dead aspects of a Christian belief in resurrection, but the moral lessons about self-sacrifice for a larger cause.”
Personally I never made the connection between Jesus and George Romero’s flesh-eating zombies before (If there is a Second Coming, should we shoot Zombie Jesus in the head?) but Mansfield passes over the passage with little comment.
MANSFIELD’S CRISPLY WRITTEN essay does do a solid job sorting through the various contradictory strands of Obama’s singular religious journey. For people looking for a good one-volume summary of Obama’s religious beliefs, this is about as good as you’ll find.
(I came away with no idea what Mansfield’s politics are, by the way. He is also the author of The Faith of George W. Bush. Make of that what you will.)
Where it falters badly is in the analysis. What is one to make of the candidate who confesses that when tucking his daughter into bed he responds to her questions about what happens after we die by saying he doesn’t know if there is heaven?
Why not just tell the kid there is a heaven and let her get a good night’s sleep? “Obama’s own church lists heaven among the benefits of salvation in the altar calls that close its services,” Mansfield notes.
Mansfield concedes that Obama is “the product of a new, postmodern generation that picks and chooses its truth from traditional, much as a man customizes his meal at a buffet.” That this doesn’t say much for Obama (or his generation) does not seem to bother the author.
He argues that “Obama had found the answer to his soul’s need and only a cynical heart would refuse the possibility of a lonely black man in his twenties finding faith through the preaching of God’s word.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online