Sunday, October 22, 2006

obama in '08

on meet the press today, barack obama said that heis considering running for president in 2008. i'll be honest, i haven't followed him extremely close, nor do i know everything about him. however, what i have seen of him has really impressed me.

this week's time magazine has an article about him and a selection from his new book, the audacity of hope. here are some snippets from the latter:

I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people, and so avoid joining a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy....

There are a whole lot of religious people in America, including the majority of Democrats. When we abandon the field of religious discourse—when we ignore the debate about what it means to be a good Christian or Muslim or Jew; when we discuss religion only in the negative sense of where or how it should not be practiced, rather than in the positive sense of what it tells us about our obligations toward one another; when we shy away from religious venues and religious broadcasts because we assume that we will be unwelcome—others will fill the vacuum. And those who do are likely to be those with the most insular views of faith, or who cynically use religion to justify partisan ends.

Our failure as progressives to tap into the moral underpinnings of the nation is not just rhetorical, though. Our fear of getting "preachy" may also lead us to discount the role that values and culture play in addressing some of our most urgent social problems. After all, the problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed, are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect 10-point plan. They are also rooted in societal indifference and individual callousness—the desire among those at the top of the social ladder to maintain their wealth and status whatever the cost, as well as the despair and self-destructiveness among those at the bottom....

I am not suggesting that every progressive suddenly latch on to religious terminology. I am suggesting that perhaps if we progressives shed some of our own biases, we might recognize the values that both religious and secular people share when it comes to the moral and material direction of our country. We need to take faith seriously not simply to block the religious right but to engage all persons of faith in the larger project of American renewal....

What our deliberative, pluralistic democracy demands is that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals must be subject to argument and amenable to reason. If I am opposed to abortion for religious reasons and seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or invoke God's will and expect that argument to carry the day. If I want others to listen to me, then I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all....

The story of Abraham and Isaac offers a simple but powerful example. According to the Bible, Abraham is ordered by God to offer up his "only son, Isaac, whom you love," as a burnt offering. Without argument, Abraham takes Isaac to the mountaintop, binds him to an altar, and raises his knife, prepared to act as God has commanded. Of course, we know the happy ending—God sends down an angel to intercede at the very last minute. Abraham has passed God's test of devotion. He becomes a model of fidelity to God, and his great faith is rewarded through future generations. And yet it is fair to say that if any of us saw a 21st century Abraham raising the knife on the roof of his apartment building, we would call the police; we would wrestle him down; even if we saw him lower the knife at the last minute, we would expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away and charge Abraham with child abuse. We would do so because God doesn't reveal Himself or His angels to all of us in a single moment. We do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be. So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that are possible for all of us to know, understanding that a part of what we know to be true—as individuals or communities of faith—will be true for us alone.

anyways... i hope he runs and kicks mitt romney's butt.


  1. That's a great quotation. What bothers you about Romney? And have you given up your support of Ralph Nader? :)

  2. I also am not super familiar with Obama, but I like what I've seen so far. Thanks for posting this excerpt.

  3. russ:

    i don't recall myself ever supporting nader - maybe you are confusing me with bryant.

    i like the romney from ten years ago. he used to be pro-choice and against legislation banning ssm. now he is taking the totally opposite position to pander to the evangelical christian right. i'm interested to see him run to see how the whole mormon thing plays out, but, like most of the christian right, i see his views as rather un-christian.

  4. Interesting timing... We talked about Obama in my Reporting for the mass media class... he was on the cover of time, and we went over the article on him, and i was really intrigued... then i read this and get a second dose...

    i might have to get his book "Audacity of Hope"

  5. I'd take Obama over Shrillary Clinton any day of the week.

  6. Osama is running for president? What the...!?!

  7. Read the Time article. He's an intriguing candidate for sure and a lot better than most of the other options I've heard. I'm interested to learn more about him to really hear his views on some of the tougher issues.

    And BTW what's up with the Nader-bashing. I like a lot of Nader's ideas. I'd actually be really interested to see the Green party in office for a term or two to see how much they could change the country. Certainly couldn't be worse than what we've got.

  8. People who think Ralph Nader still has an ounce of dignity left shouldn't click here.

  9. hey are you guys watching v this wednsday or next? or did i just miss it or what?


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