The audacity of faith: 1-20-09
January 20, 2009
On this Inauguration Day, I want to acquaint -- or maybe reacquaint -- you with some of our new president's thinking about religion and its connection to politics and politicians.
For that I turn to Barack Obama's 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, and specifically to the chapter called, simply, "Faith."
* ". . .white evangelical Christians (along with conservative Catholics) are the heart and soul of the Republican Party's grassroots base -- a core following continually mobilized by a network of pulpits and media outlets that technology has only amplified.
"It is their issues -- abortion, gay marriage, prayer in schools, intelligent design, Terri Schiavo, the posting of the Ten commandments in the courthouse, home schooling, voucher plans, and the makeup of the Supreme Court -- that often dominate the headlines and serve as one of the major fault lines in American politics."
* "If I have any insight into this movement toward a deepening religious commitment, perhaps it's because it's a road I have traveled.
"I was not raised in a religious household. My maternal grandparents, who hailed form Kansas, had been steeped in religion as children: My grandfather had been raised by devout Baptist grandparents after his father had gone AWOL and his mother committed suicide, while my grandmother's parents -- who occupied a slightly higher station in the hierarchy of small-town, Great Depression society (her father worked for an oil refinery, her mother was a schoolteacher) -- were practicing Methodists. But for perhaps the same reasons that my grandparents would end up leaving kansas and migrating to Hawaii, religious faith never really took root in their hearts."
* "In (my mother's) mind, a working knowledge of the world's great religions was a necessary part of any well-rounded education. In our household the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology. On Easter or Christmas Day my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites."
* ". . .the historically black church offered me a second insight: that faith doesn't mean that you don't have doubts, or that you relinquish your hold on this world. . . .You needed to come to church precisely because you were of this world, not apart from it; rich, poor, sinner, saved, you needed to embrace Christ precisely because you had sins to wash away -- because you were human and needed an ally in your difficult journey, to make the peaks and valleys smooth and render all those crooked paths straight.
"It was because of these newfound understandings. . .that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized. It came about as a choice and not an epiphany; the questions 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."
Well, no one's spiritual journey can be captured in a few paragraphs. But perhaps what I've shared here today gives you a little better insight into how Obama approaches these matters. I find there both an openness and a sense of humility that I find refreshing and hopeful.
* * *
RELIGION'S LONG INAUGURAL HISTORY
And as this Los Angeles Times piece correctly points out, religion has played a prominent role in presidential inaugurations for a long, long time. The trick is to reflect the religious nature of the American people without crossing the constitutionally prohibted line of promoting one religion over another.
I believe supporting pregnant women and adoption is a noble effort, but so often this is laced with the spread of the sugar plum fairy. Once again civil liberties are constantly being attacked by the religious. And the adoption laws have to change to encourage this.
I also find it interesting that gays can have their rights as long as many religious people can condemn them from the pulpit, teaching bigotry, as well as publicly and raising large amounts of money to restrict their rights. Also intertwining their political support for favors.
I don’t think this is going to change very fast unless people are better educated. Hopefully Obama will cut to the chase and help this issue along….
WORDS ON BEHALF OF VICTIMS
(“That's the job of people of faith, to stand up for the vulnerable, though at times it's easy to wonder if it makes a heck of a lot of difference.”)
I wonder this myself, Bill. Perhaps if we removed the religious aspect they would forget what they are fighting about. That probably wouldn’t work either. People are people and will find almost anything to fight about.
But I do think if we started over in the real world instead of the cloud daddy bringing hopeful dreams of everlasting life, and try to actually obtain this through science, we might have a chance.
Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole
Posted by: memberofKCFreeThinkers.org | January 20, 2009 at 06:46 AM
Interesting insights into Obama's beliefs, Bill. Ironically, the ones who have already tried to sue him over the oath of office are the atheists.
They keep forgetting that the First Amendment also says that NO law shall be passed restricting the Free Exercise of religion.
Posted by: adam harrison | January 20, 2009 at 07:00 AM
"lynne/Cole/Iggy, your claim that I am "gregory" is hilarious.
I would no more enocourage people to come to your Community of Reason meetings than I would to KCF's. I have been to both, and see little difference. Both are devoted to belittling and trying to embarras beleivers who have shown up. I have been to both, so don't try to kid me.
Much more likely is that one of you made the invitation trying to improve your image, because you know how Iggy has made atheists look.
By the way, the phrase "track people" is from Iggy himself. Check Bills January 2008 archives.
Posted by: adam harrison | January 20, 2009 at 07:05 AM
Believers are not bound by the Constitution when expressing their faith.
They may be put in prison, or worse, but their rights do not come from the Constitution; the Constitution merely "enmuates" "certain" rights, and specifically says that our rights are not limited to those so enumerated.
The day may well come when the government more forcefully tries to cotrol us, and we may have to go underground.
We are preparing for that day.
Posted by: adam harrison | January 20, 2009 at 07:17 AM
Here is one atheist site that says what they want to do if they get the power to do it.
It contains horrible admissions.
Posted by: adam harrison | January 20, 2009 at 07:19 AM
Thank you for the nice introduction to the Religions President Obama was exposed to during his Childhood with his Mother.
She was a different type of Mother than most of us had, being raised in One Religious Faith from Birth.
All this is just more Knowledge, to make him the Best President of a Country of Immigrants of All Faiths, even though as an Adult, he Chose Christianity and Jesus.
From his comments, Jesus and his Way of Life of Equality and Peace for All, did influence his becoming a Christian.
I have not read his book, but I will now.
My daughter just called and she heard that Obama will become by Law, President at 12 Noon, no matter when he is sworn in. Before or After. This pageantry is just ceremony for Citizens.
Too bad all the Good Will Human Feelings do not last, so Humans can stop Killing Each Other and our Home Planet.
Posted by: Dolores Lear | January 20, 2009 at 08:17 AM
If we do have a long history of religion, it is not working. Maybe we should try something else like: get to the business of running the country.
A President is wasting time professing what he thinks of the afterlife and creating policies because god told him to. When this happens part of the President’s credibility, for me, is out the window!
Appeasing religious people has no purpose in solving our nation’s problems. I don’t see the parallel.
A fact about Obama is, whether he is religious or not, he would have never been elected President as a professed nonbeliever.
As far as I am concerned, promoting the religious nature of the American people- not all Americans I would like to add-, whether one religion is fair to other religions or not, is still promoting religion.
Barack Obama Versus Religion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXcvbnzNIjg
Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole
Posted by: memberofKCFreeThinkers.org | January 20, 2009 at 08:52 AM
I would like to include today a testimonial from a friend of ours about: LOOSING MY RELIGION PART 1
I think I need to define, especially for my Christian friends, who I am in terms of my lack of belief in a deity. I grew up in a bible literalist environment. As an inquisitive child I frequently questioned anything that didn’t make sense to me. Although I believed in the concept of hell I could never, even as a child, make sense of an all- loving "God" who would create such a ghastly chamber of horrors. The belief that this all-loving deity would banish non-believers and unrepentant "sinners" to this eternal fiery torment created an ongoing conflict in my mind…. "Do I really and truly LOVE this vengeful god or am I simply terrified not to?" I questioned the divinely inspired biblical stories of an all powerful God who displayed such shallow human emotions as anger, jealousy and revenge.. …a God who narcissistically demanded worship and destroyed all who failed to comply with his demands.
The stories of Sodom/Gomorrah and the Flood demonstrated God’s uncontrollable rage. Along with the evil-doers who should have been his obvious target, he destroyed children, pregnant woman, the handicapped, and the elderly.
In light of God’s monumental ability to "create", it seems rather petty of him to be so bent on demanding our undivided attention in the form of adoration, worship, submission, and compliance to rules. How did this great omnipotent and omniscient creator become so emotionally immature?
Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole _continued
Posted by: memberofKCFreeThinkers.org | January 20, 2009 at 08:54 AM
Having always been extremely companionate and empathetic, I have volunteered my time and money to the local child abuse center, abused women’s shelter, humane society, homeless shelter and animal rescue groups. I cried when I read John Howard Griffin’s "Black Like Me" and Peter Singer’s "Animal Liberation". I have been a vocal and active defender of the rights of the oppressed all my life. A turning point in my belief in god came with the realization that all of my good deeds were meaningless in the eyes of God if I continued to question his existence. …. I would burn eternally in hell for my lack of devotion to him. I could actually have been a serial torturer and killer of babies and invalids, having never committed a kind act in my life, and still have earned a ticket to heaven by asking for forgiveness at the 11th hour, just minutes before the lethal injection. Good deeds don’t earn nearly the high marks with God as belief, worship, guilt and begging for forgiveness.
My suspicion that religion was a social control became solidified after taking a World Religion class at the local college. Religion has played a huge role in legislating "Christian" morality which is based on ancient texts that teach far more hate than love.
If I seem angry, it is the result of connecting the dots between religion and oppression of human rights. I believe in the beauty of nature, the complexities of life, the wonder of exploring the world through travel and the internet, the beauty of my grandchildren, the evidence presented through science ….but most of all I believe in reason, logic and truth.
Posted by: memberofKCFreeThinkers.org | January 20, 2009 at 08:55 AM
Adamh/Will Graham/Just Thinking/James Christensen/Christenson are completely off the rocker and live in an imaginary world and not the real world.
It appears from some research I've done on the Net they are an uncle/nephew anti atheist tag team, or uncle/nephew/newphew's sister(or girlfriend), or uncle/uncle's sister and the uncle sister's son/daughter or son's girlfriend or combination thereof - kind of family not unlike in Westboro Baptist Church case.
You can lump them together into a "construct/enigma" of a troll with the same behavior patterns of PERSONALLY ATTACKING believers who they do not share their particular version of Xianity fortune telling and non believers alike. ANYTHING THAT IS ARGUING ABOUT RELIGION is turned into a personal attack. When you talk about "dogma of religious think" - it becomes "attack on their personal freedom" not "dogma of religion" to them. Scientific progress and advances becomes "evil scientists who created Weapons of Mass Destruction". Freethinking becomes "Soviet gulags and Hitler as an atheist" (though recently the troll (s) have stopped using Hitler as an example apparently reliazing that he was a Xian "Gott Mit Uns" (God with Us) believer of sorts or at least called himself so.
Unfortunately, this troll (s) are what you'd call an evolutionary dead end/branch on a tree of humanity. They can still procreate genetically and "pollute the Net and their future children with this kind of nonsense. They make no mistake that they will "out a person for their atheistic beliefs" if this person runs for office. Atheism is a threat to them and society as they see it - like a plague. They just don't get it that this is all part of their god's plan.
They will continue with their endless arguements, tring to bog you down into demanding answers like they do, they ask for discussion, they crave battle, they cannot stop - it is like an ant who has a a parasite in his brain and it tells it to climb up the grass and sit wait till cow/sheep eats them to procreate further.
When you have a divine god on your side, what can be better than to be on his good side by being a god's devil advocate?
For a profile of his "construct" visit http://www.KCFreeThinkers.org/troll.htm This will give you an idea how the mind of these people works.
Posted by: IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org | January 20, 2009 at 09:13 AM
I am glancing at CNN coverage this morning of the inauguration and I was thinking that it would be VERY EASY FOR OBAMA TO MAKE A STATEMENT WIHTOUT ACTUALLY SAYING A WORD for the new changes coming to America.
His new limo (s) (he will have several) can easily be running on lithium ion batteries instead of spewing gas as is evident right now int he cold weather in Washington DC. Any car manufacturer will do it in a heartbeat for $0 to tax payers. These batteries are safe and very reliable and can be charged at any time in the AirForce one that carries the limo and also decoys and all. The limo is driven by president probably no more than 5-20 miles at any given time, so this is not going to be a problem.
He can with a snap of his fingers install solar panels on top of the limo that are thin and state of the art and power up the limo's electronics, his cell phone communications, laptop, printers, etc.
He can starting tomorrow wake up in the White house and in teh morning go to the front lawn and dig up a small patch of dirt to prarper it for spring to plant tomatoes or green beans.
There are already vegetables grown on top of the white house, he can have a joint cheifs of staff meeting there one day or meet with EPA and Agriculture Minsiter there.
These are little actions that require virtually no time on his part - he can do it without any problems.
I believe bold actions like this will be made by Obama. The future of this country and the world hopefully never looked as bright as it looks today.
It is remarkable that atheists and freethinkers OVERWHELMINGLY VOTED FOR OBAMA, it is remarkable that MORE AND MORE THEISTS VOTE FOR NATURAL WORLD UNDERSTANG as the time goes on.
The kingdom of rationality is at hand. Verily I tell onto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things happen.
Posted by: IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org | January 20, 2009 at 09:32 AM
Wow KCFT! Your list of names just keeps expanding and expanding; using your shotgun mudslinging techniques, I quess you think you are sure to get a name or two right! LOL!
And it is UTTERLY IRONIC to hear you complaining about someone making personal attacks!
And using different names!
AS IF YOU HAVEN'T made personal attacks under a variety of names for OVER A FULL YEAR!
"Christian Brains are delicious".
Etc. ad nauseum.
Need I go on?
And now you are just making up claims out of thin air, quote mining posts by different people over a period of years, all the while pretending that you haven't talked at least two of the girls and pretending that James (if we are talking about the same person) did not call you several times AT YOUR REQUEST but you wouldn't return his calls...you know he is on to you.
Even some of the other atheists are getting tired of you calling THEM names when they won't go along with your delusions of grandeur.
I love it when atheist lose it! Bahahahahaaaaaaaaaaa
Posted by: Will Graham | January 20, 2009 at 11:00 AM
I also think it is a nice touch that you use variant spellings of names...which also shows you don't know what you are talking about...just to cover all the bases!
But you know what? Some people have asked me if I want you to change.
The more I think about it, I think I like you just the way you are! A real Poster Child for Atheism.
Posted by: Will Graham | January 20, 2009 at 11:07 AM
By the way, Lynne/Iggy, there is not a chance in heck that Adam would have encouraged anyone to go to Community of Reason meetings.
And Cole, your friend is an angry as you are. Get help.
I know you won't admit it here, but what your Other Friend is doing is, well, creepy.
If you want help, call James. He has left his number on your sites anwering machine. He will answer all your questions, I am sure.
Don't let it bring you down too.
Posted by: Will Graham | January 20, 2009 at 11:16 AM
The Atheists suffered a set back today.
President Obama did not bow to their pressure.
Posted by: Will Graham | January 20, 2009 at 11:20 AM
On Atheist "Psycho" "Analysis"...
Posted by: Will Graham | January 20, 2009 at 11:27 AM
I appreciate Bill's posting of our new president's faith journey. Some of us may disagree on issues, but the least we can do as citizens of this great country is to wish him well and pray for our country and all our leaders. We are riding in the same boat.
Posted by: Mary Behr | January 20, 2009 at 12:32 PM
Lynne, you don't run the show, whoever Will or Gregory of James or even Iggy is.COR's membership has grown little over the years, and pig tail man was no organizational genius.People like Will or whoever are doing what they do, Iggy with his ideas of glory and thousands of members is giving us all a bad name.
And you don't tell us what to do either.
Posted by: TrueFreethinker | January 20, 2009 at 01:51 PM
Quick reminder about calendar events in KC This week - http://www.KCFreeThinkers.org/calendar.htm
If you'd like to start up an event in your area or at a time that works for you and may work for others, let us know [email protected]
*Tonight 7 p.m. Tuesday - KS FreeThought Group - Scooters Coffee House, Overland Park, KS
*Tomorrow Wed, 8 a.m., FreeThinking Breakfast at IHOP, Olathe, KS
*******NEW*****KARAOKE NIGHT! - Friday 8 p.m.
Karaoke Night - if you don't want to sing, you can just hang out and drink! When I called, they said they have a wide variety of music. More info on the Red Balloon here: http://www.pitch.com/events/karaoke-31849/
Mapquest map here: http://www.mapquest.com/maps?name=Red+Balloon&city=Shawnee+Mission&state=KS&address=10325+W+75th+St&zipcode=66214&country=US&latitude=38.992961&longitude=-94.706253&geocode=ADDRESS&id=8279304
RSVP: Lynne Schultz
****ZEITGEIST" THE MOVIE Saturday 7 p.m. - Black Dog Coffee House, Lenexa, KS. We'll watch the first part on Christianity - Part I, entitled "The Greatest Story Ever Told" questions religions as original god-given stories, arguing the Christian religion specifically is mainly derived from other religions, astronomical facts, astrological myths and traditions; in turn derived from or sharing elements with other ones. In furtherance of the Jesus myth hypothesis, this part argues that the historical Jesus is a literary and astrological hybrid, nurtured politically in the interest of control.
Posted by: IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org | January 20, 2009 at 01:57 PM
In tomorrow’s special Inauguration editions of The Washington Post, the American Humanist Association will be running a full-page ad that uses Barack Obama’s own words about his Humanist mother to show that you can indeed raise excellent, moral, hard-working children without resorting to religion.
We can use this ad as a template for one of the postcards to send out to the "Small Town, USA"
Posted by: IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org | January 20, 2009 at 04:01 PM
I couldn’t help but smile when I watched and listened to Ricky Warren at Obama’s inauguration today. I don’t know, there is something pretentious about this man. Can’t quite put my finger on it, but maybe the word ‘truthful’ comes to mind. He said, head bowed to god “when we fail to treat all the human beings and the earth with the respect they deserve, forgive us.” WHAT A HOOT. He was trying too hard.
IT REMINDS ME OF THE “GREAT BIG FAT LIE” and a new liar on the block…welcome, TrueFreethinker. When will all this stop?
Not until we all admit we all live on a natural world with natural laws and then a president can actually admit to being nonreligious.
LONG LIVE PRESIDENT OBAMA AND THE BEST FOR HIM AND FAMILY!
Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole
Posted by: memberofKCFreeThinkers.org | January 20, 2009 at 06:31 PM
Cole, do you think Obama is lying about being religious?
If so, what else has he lied about? Why are you so arrogant as to suppose that he must be an atheist? I am not going to kid around, so let me be clear that I don't think you and Igor speak for most atheists. You are just the currently most vocal.
Posted by: TrueFreethinker | January 20, 2009 at 06:58 PM
Its a HOOT that the atheists have abandoned their own forum at Greg's Kansas Freethought site and instead forus on Bill's because it has a following and theirs has...nothing.
Even more of a HOOT is when another atheist comments and they exhibit an angry JEALOUSLY.
Posted by: adam harrison | January 20, 2009 at 07:53 PM
The Biggest Gap in our Past, is not how Life Began on Earth, but the Answer to Why the Human Species Kills Each Other, All Life Species, and their Home Planet.
Is this what Evolution up to High Tech does, make a Killer Human Species? From animals bones to Nuclear Bombs.
Science, so far, does not consider our Planet was Colonized? Even if we do Know this is possible, for High Tech Humans today, but not in the Past.
In Genesis, Earth was Colonized by the 'Lord God', in our Human Image, and did Reproduce Perfect Male and Female Human Clones, without Heterosexual Body Birth.
Can this be what Evolution does? Evolve up to our High Tech today. We reproduce Fetus' in the Lab and Know how to Clone?
Now we need to Evolve to Perfect Humans made in the Lab, like Adam and Eve?
Even when we travel in Space, will Humans Ever Find out, 'What' made the Elements, that made our visible and invisible Life in the Universes?
Can Life as we Know it, go back to the Source of the Elements that made us? Could we call this Source GOD, or just Chance?
Is Earth the Only Planet that has Life as we Know it? We have only had High Tech for 100 years and used most of it for Killing Each Other.
We Could Know this High Tech Truth in Genesis, about the Lord God, our High Tech Human Ancestors, with a High Tech Translations of all Scripture and Myth.
Will Humans ever Know any more about GOD than we do today? I doubt it. We will blow up our Planet, before we will Unite as One Equal Peace Human Species, on Spaceship Earth Home.
Posted by: Dolores Lear | January 29, 2009 at 03:00 PM