Review – The Faith of Barack Obama

I’ve had the chance to read The Faith of Barack Obama, by Stephen Mansfield over the past couple of weeks.  At the time I hadn’t begun diving into all the information that’s scattered across the political landscape this election year, so I thought this would be as good a place as any to start.

The information in this book is important to understand, not only for the purpose of being able to make informed decisions on election day, but also because of the rise of the role of faith in this election cycle.  It is crucial to understand, as much as one can, the faith of someone who could be leading our nation and have a role in the faith dialogue of our country over the next four years.  There are definite benefits to knowing someones history and journey, because one way or another their past impacts their present and future.  As I read there were encouraging ideas and concerning ideas.  Here are some items of interest from the book:

  • The prominent role that faith is playing in the current election is a product of “three historic shifts:  the loss of the Religious Right’s national leadership, the drift of born again voters toward the Democratic Party, and the religiously liberal pro-Obama lean of young voters.”
  • “For a Religious Left just reclaiming its political voice, the marketplace of religious ideas in American politics was more open than at any time in a generation.”
  • Obama’s faith history is he result of an amalgamation of religious influences and ideas.  Speaking of his families time in Indonesia, the author writes, “His life was  religious swirl.  He lived in a largely Muslim country.  He prayed at the feet of a Catholic Jesus.  he attended a mosque with his stepfather and learned Islam in his public school.  At home, his mother taught him her atheistic optimism.”   
  • Mansfield also speaks of Obama’s time at Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side of Chicago, and his relationship with the controversial Jeremiah Wright.
  • There are some concerning statements about Barack’s conversion experience.  “He does not use the language of the traditional convert to Christianity.  He is the product of a new, post-modern generation that picks and chooses its own truth from traditional faith, much as a man customizes his meal at a buffet…He says that he was seeking a ‘vessel’ for his values, a ‘community of shared traditions in which to ground my most deeply held beliefs.'”

One of the most interesting and beneficial chapters compared the faith journeys of John McCain, Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.  Overall I’m glad I read it this book, because I feel more informed about one of the potential candidates.  Thanks again to the good people at Thomas Nelson.  I think this book provides good information about an issue not only important to this election, but also for years to come.  If you’d like to purchase a copy you can do so at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Borders.

Other resources:  See an interview here, with the author Stephen Mansfield about why he thinks this book is important.  Check out Letters to the Next President, where you have the opportunity to write a letter to the next President, read what others have written, and to listen to some ideas that are important concerning the qualities of a leader.

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