June 29, 2006

In Appreciation of Barack Obama

It appears Barack Obama is the latest Democrat attempting to talk about religion. This week he spoke at the Call to Renewal’s Building a Covenant for a New America Conference, where he expressed his hopes that we can "bridge the gap" in the debate about religion and politics.

But today I’d like to talk about the connection between religion and politics and perhaps offer some thoughts about how we can sort through some of the often bitter arguments over this issue over the last several years.

I'm so glad we have Senator Obama to guide us through this debate. Yes, Barack, please help "sort through" these "often bitter arguments" over religion.

At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise.

There you go, argument sorted. If you're religious, you're unable to compromise. I'm sure that's making the bitterness just melt away. But wait, there's more, tell us why people turn to religion, Barack...

They want a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to their lives. They're looking to relieve a chronic loneliness, a feeling supported by a recent study that shows Americans have fewer close friends and confidants than ever before. And so they need an assurance that somebody out there cares about them, is listening to them – that they are not just destined to travel down a long highway towards nothingness.

I've always found that the best way to help "bridge the gap" between people engaged in "often bitter arguments" is by implying that one side is a bunch of losers. If George Bush can be the "Decider," than Barack Obama definitely has to be the "Bridger." But does Senator Obama have any suggestions for "progressives" in need of a way to relate better to church goers?

I am not suggesting that every progressive suddenly latch on to religious terminology. Nothing is more transparent than inauthentic expressions of faith – the politician who shows up at a black church around election time and claps – off rhythm – to the gospel choir.

It's about time people learned that the only really authentic "expressions of faith" are accompanied by a good sense of rhythm. I think that's covered in the Bible, you know, when Jesus goes to the blues club.

Thank you, Senator Obama, for expressing your thoughts about how religious people are losers who can't compromise. And, most importantly, for telling us that if you don't have rhythm, stay the Hell away from black churches. After reading that speech, I can't even imagine what all of the "bitterness" could have been about.

Posted by at June 29, 2006 02:16 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Yes, I'm sure that the real reason people were so religious when families were much larger and communities tighter was because they were all so lonely. NOT

And of course all the deeply religious people who were there for the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the construction of the Constitution couldn't compromise. NOT.

Posted by: Anna Venger at June 29, 2006 08:49 AM

Good post. This guy has gotten more good press than any other pol in history. And I predict he will flame out - he is average at best.

Too bad he did not mention that almost 100% of those off-rhythym pols are in his own party.

And lastly, I think your name should be "not so happy" mommy cause its the outrage that makes you good!

Posted by: AJ Lynch at June 29, 2006 09:07 AM

He's supposed to be the rising star and he has such a tin ear!

He's telling them to pander to the religious people well enough that they won't notice that they're being used. Nice.

P.s. Republicans pander just as much, they're just better at it.

Posted by: Duffy at June 29, 2006 10:05 AM

At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise.


Cute comments, but how is this anything but a fairly accurate, non-inflammatory statement? I'm Jewish, and -- interpreted strictly -- Jewish law does not allow compromise in many of the same areas that Christianity does not.

There are obviously gray areas, and religious branches/divisons that are more tolerant than others.

But at its core, religion is a strict, inflexible set of rules -- whether you think those rules are right or wrong is an entirely personal matter.

Do you respond to your comments, Happy, or will this be yet another encounter with Hube, the Minister of Defense? ;)

Posted by: Dan at June 30, 2006 03:03 AM

dan: Not to worry. As I've mentioned previously, Felix and Rhodey don't usually comment. (One of 'em actually would prefer we don't even allow comments.) But HappyMom has no such compunctions if the desire fills her.

Posted by: Hube at June 30, 2006 08:45 AM

If there was this "fundamental level" where "religion does not allow for compromise," how did modern western civilization get to the point where it is today?

The Catholic Church didn't kick out John Kerry for his pro choice beliefs, and Southern Baptists didn't boot Mighty King Bill for adultery.

We don't stone our children to death for talking back, and I've never seen the death penalty doled out to a woman who has premarital sex.

Yesterday, I saw a guy with a bobble head Jesus on his dashboard, I had no desire to pull him over and kill him. Why is that, dan? (OK, he was driving fast enough to not piss me off and he used his turn signals, but that aside, it didn't even cross my mind to have him executed).

And you're Jewish, dan, when's the last time you saw someone punished by death for working on the Sabbath?

See, dan, if religion didn't "allow for compromise" on some "fundamental level," I would have been stoned to death years ago. I bet you would have, too.

Posted by: Happymomie at June 30, 2006 10:45 AM

I'm not trying to be argumentative... but... ?

Does the Bible mandate death for any of these transgressions? The only way most of that comment would make any sense is if it did.

I think rather than....death, what Obama means is simply that to be a truly observant member of a strict religion, there really isn't a lot of wiggle room. Note Obama's choice of words: "at some FUNDAMENTAL LEVEL." He didn't say that in practice, there isn't compromise among religious people.

There are (contrary to right-wing belief) a lot of religious and spiritual liberals who "compromise" by holding strong spiritual beliefs without adhering to the more old-fashioned elements of organized religion. Likewise, there are many a righty who call themselves "Christian Conservatives" who love a good war, have a rather un-Jesus-like approach to the poorest in our society, and support the death penalty. So I guess these are "compromises" indeed.

Posted by: dan at June 30, 2006 03:24 PM

Yeah, Dan, death. Bummer isn't it?

And Barack mentions "evangelicals" in that part of his speech specifically:

This may be difficult for those who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of the possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It insists on the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one’s life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime; to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing.

But notice how he doesn't mention, say, Muslim fundamentalists who actually have executed people for stuff like premarital sex, adultery, and even homosexuality. He does mention Muslims and people of other faiths throughout his speech, but when it comes to "not allowing for compromise," he only mentions evangelicals.

Now this is the part I really like, earlier in the speech, he talks about reaching out to evangelicals. I guess that's his plan, reach out to evangelicals with one hand then smack them down hard with the other. You know, tough love.

Maybe my point is, Dan, that he needs a better speech writer, one that doesn't lace his speeches with hypocrisy and sprinkle bigotry into them. Or maybe my point is that Obama isn't that bright, he has his own set of intolerances that he's unable to conceal, and he doesn't think Americans are bright enough to pick that up.

Posted by: Happymomie at July 2, 2006 03:11 PM

Post a comment

Remember personal info?