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When Exactly Did Jeebus Call Obama?

chicago dyke's picture

So I'd prefer to have religion-free policy and politics, but I'm not going to get that in this country. I will never understand why it's so difficult for people to agree: religion belongs in the home and place of worship, politics in the public square where everyone is afforded an equal say. But if "our" politicians are going to make their deep faith a Big Issue, I have a question for Obama: how often did you go to church when you were a teen, in college, and in law school?

Seems to me that when White politicians run this play, most of the Folk are wise enough to smell the hypocrisy. I've mentioned before the line you'll hear in many a Black Church, "White politicians only come here during election time." That's pretty much how I viewed Obama's sudden interest in church when he first came to Chicago. It's of note that the church he joined isn't exactly an all-Black church, and that the Black people who attend it are mostly middle and upper class, Chicago's Black Elite. There are a lot of run down, not-famous congregations in Chicago filled with poor, struggling Black people. Other than election time, how often did Obama visit them?

Now, I do give him credit for his much-lauded voter registration efforts during his early years in Chicago. But I wonder if the Black Church leadership that's slobbering all over him today, would be treating a White politician similarly had they the same track record. Somehow, I doubt it. Nor am I impressed that many Black religious leaders seem to be ignoring the one "major" candidate in the race who is actually speaking about the poor. You know, those people Jesus was so fond of...

Anyway- does anybody know the answer to my question? I suppose it's detailed in one or two of his books, I've not read them. But to it seems a much more relevant test of his faith: how religious has he been when political gain is not a factor?

Myself, I have a hard time imagining Mr. Young and Dashing Law Review rounding up all his Cambridge buddies first thing every Sunday and dragging them down to some Black Church in Boston's poor neighborhoods to 'get right with Jesus.' Am I wrong?

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Submitted by lambert on

VL can probably add nuance, but I can tell you from when I lived there that the racial divisions in Boston are absolutely savage -- though possibly not as bad as Chicago, and the worst of it isn't in Southie.

Cambridge, where Harvard is, might as well be in a different state from Roxbury, the largest black neighborhood. In terms of public transportion, for example, the Dudley bus, which runs between them, has been notoriously bad for years. And when the first extended the Red Line South, they didn't even have a stop for Roxbury and had to build a stop later, at the cost of many millions.

But even if Obama didn't go all the way to Roxbury, I also doubt whether he got as far as a black church in Cambridge, which is also poor and suffering.

Good point.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I was born and raised in the very white burbs of Massachusetts where the only students of color in my high school were bused in from Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, etc. Southie is its own world.

When were you there, Lambert?

Submitted by lambert on

but I've been back since, and it doesn't look like much has changed.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

is it correct of me to point out how often we tell each other we're correct?

c'mon, readers- show us some incorrectness! otherwise, this place will be downright Civil, and how boring is that? correct me if i'm wrong. ;-)

Submitted by lambert on

Glad you caught that one, CD, before it went viral.

Actually, there's a difference between Civility -- that is, the deference we give to Our Betters, The Aristocrats (not) -- and common politeness, which is often useful to keep a conversation moving forward. Let's leave the "civil" catchphrases to the assholes in the Village who don't want us to say Fuck, and not confuse the branding.

Ever read Cryptonomicon? Libtard though it often is, there's a hideous dinner table scene where disagreement is smoothed over by "consensus clusters." Let's not do that. Only the OFB believe in a magical unity pony.

And if you really want "correction," I'm sure CD has the instruments somewhere about...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

The predominantly black neighborhoods are still the predominantly black neighborhoods, except where they've become Asian neighborhoods. But I would say things are incrementally more integrated throughout the metro area.

My burb abuts the city, and it has become considerably more integrated over the years. And our black governor, Deval Patrick, hails from here.

But I wonder if the Black Church leadership that’s slobbering all over him today, would be treating a White politician similarly had they the same track record. Somehow, I doubt it.

Progressives and liberals never cease to amaze me with the ease in which they exploit easy differences between us when their interests are under threat. (If you will excuse the religiosity for a moment,) what in God’s name does one metaphorical church’s supposed theoretical reaction to a non-occurrence have to do with this man’s candidacy for Presidency? Don't tell me: its a black thing? Again?

Let’s put rational, sober thought aside: we’re playing the Race Card!

Despite Sen. Edwards and his family having more riches than 97% of people on Earth, most of which is NOT being dedicated to charities or charitable causes, it’s still not that hard to believe that he cares about poor people.

Why then does it stretch credulity that Sen. Obama seeks a personal relationship with God? Even if it was all an act – say, he was no more interested in that than a personal relationship with Jim & Susan McDougal - then, is it somehow disingenuous to attend churches, synagogues, or tent solstice celebrations at any time?

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln, most of his life a closeted agnostic and certainly not religious, applied his rational mind to cracking the ultimate “nut” of classical liberalism – God – and wrote “Meditations on God’s Will.” In it, he asked, if God was on the North’s side, why did all the death, horror and destruction continue unabated? I can’t remember all of it, but basically, he came to the conclusion that this was bigger than united states. God, he felt, wanted to wipe slavery off the face of the earth. America had to pay penance.

Is that religion? Is it seeking a personal relationship with God? Is that “ultimately about race”? Who cares? It shows a man who approaches policy, politics, life, death and war as a thinking, fellow human being. God bless that.

Below is a little bit from the Senator’s own mouth that may help you get a better sense of his perspective:

“Well, first of all, where I got the title from, some of you remember I actually used the line in the speech that I gave here in Boston, but I actually pilfered it from my pastor. I'm making this confession publicly. He gave a sermon. My pastor's name is Jeremiah Wright, he's the pastor of Trinity Church of Christ on the south side of Chicago, and he gave a sermon about 18 years ago. I was a young community organizer. And the south side of Chicago -- this particular region -- this is the far south side of Chicago -- had been devastated because steel plants had been shut down. This is right when the Rust Belt era was rolling through the Midwest. And there had been massive layoffs and the communities had been devastated. People were out of work, there was a lot of racial conflict and racial turnover in the area, crime was on the increase, usual maladies facing inner city schools. And he delivers this sermon that had a very simple premise. He said, "You know, it's actually sometimes easier to be cynical. It's easier to feel hopeless. It doesn't require much from each of us. What's audacious, what requires risk, is to be hopeful. To believe that despite what we see around us, what is, there's this other thing that's possible. What could be." And that idea stuck with me, and I think characterized what not only I ended up finding most valuable in my faith, but also I think described an aspect of the American character that's pretty fundamental. I mean there's a reason why in that speech I talked about slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs. Or immigrants coming from distant shores, not really knowing what it was that they were going to find when they arrived in America. But believing somehow that across that ocean, there's something else… As bad as things are now, they were worse at many times in our history. Certainly worse for many people who looked like you and me, worse for the women in this audience, worse for poor people before there was any safety net. In each juncture there were people who decided that it's possible for us to come together and solve these problems. All of them, though, are amenable to good decision making, common sense, practicality, and improvement, and if we can focus our politics around what our common values are and our common ideals are, then it's possible for us to make progress, although progress will always be imperfect.”

http://fora.tv/2006/10/20/Audacity_of_Hope

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

how religious has he been when political gain is not a factor?

Ooh. I wish someone would ask him that. He'd be livid. I've never seen another politician who handles flimsy attacks with relative ease and yet is hyper-sensitive when it comes to legitimate criticism, as if it's a betrayal.

c’mon, readers- show us some incorrectness!

Uh, how about, "It's wrong to ever consider using either of his books for answers to any of our legitimate questions." Does that work? Besides, I honestly believe he considers the whole point of religion itself to justify his status as The Chosen One (e.g., religious brochures).

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

really! links, no insults, good points- i wish everyone supporting obama could be like you. thank you for your comment.

i'm going to counter with this question for you: what has obama done for the people of the south side...lately? he's been a state and now national senator for some time, so there should be a track record we can look at, right? in the past year, what has obama brought to the people of the South Side, and those who go to his church, specifically? if you scroll down the main page from this post, you'll find a comment from another South Sider, noting that obama has voted "present" 130 times. i assume you understand the implication i'm making.

as to edwards' wealth: i agree with you 1000%. he, and all people with a net worth of more than $1m, should liquidate everything over the $1m mark and give it to charities. $1m is a great deal of money that anyone should be able to live upon, and all accumulated wealth is ultimately covered in the blood of innocents. however, it would be a risky and perhaps stupid strategy for himjust now, what with his wife being so ill and his campaign running out of money. but it would also be amazing moral and brave. ha, i would 'worship' him for it.

as to your point about my use of the 'race card,' well, 1) i didn't start it 2) i think you missed my point and 3) i can and have spoken on this matter from direct personal experience re: black, white and other- 'colored' politicians and many black churches and congregations.

there is a difference in how the Black Church treats one of its own, compared to how White pols are treated. that's not too controversial or insightful to know. indeed, it's natural and goes on in all "whatever"-american communities. that doesn't make it right or smart or in some protected category free of critique. all i'm asking is for a bunch of people who've made "faith" their living, to look more closely at a guy who seems to be no different than the same White pols that the Black Church repeatedly will call out for failing.

how religious was he as a younger, less connected, less accomplished man? he's 46. when did jesus become as important to him as he's saying today, and what has he done (lately) to prove he understands Jesus' love of those who do (as opposed to talk about doing) good works in his name for the least among us? that was my question, i'm still waiting for an answer.

thanks again for stopping by.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Obama has told the story bunches of times. He wasn’t a religious person at all in his youth. At some point during his Chicago community organizing days someone pointed out that he didn’t have a clue about religious faith and suggested he might be more successful in getting the churches to work with him if he had an affiliation with one. He showed up at Trinity, natch, and the sermon that day was entitled “The Audacity of Hope”. Obama was moved by the Spirit; he saw the light; he found Jesus; etc etc etc; and he joined up.

Religious conversion of this sort is a digital event; one’s life is divided into two parts, before and after – you are “born again.” I don’t doubt he’s a believer. I don’t doubt he feels God’s hand is directing the course of his life. And I think he is sincere when he says that he believes in hope and compassion and understanding as transformative instruments by which wrongs can be righted.

It is all very charming and seductive and easy to swallow in its sweetness, and also laughably pathetic in its naïveté. The name Neville Chamberlain comes to mind. In this world, the only reason to reach across the table towards Evil is to get your hands around its throat and throttle it; metaphorically speaking, to be sure.

Obama has led a charmed life, personally as well as in politics, and he has confused that happenstance with the will of God. People do it all the time, this blurring of reality with fantasy; if that’s what they need to get them through the night I don’t begrudge it. However, I do not agree that faith and prayer are all it will take to fix the many things that are wrong in this life, or to defeat the forces of evil that are arrayed against us. One of the principles of Christianity is that belief in God must be as that of a child, unquestioning. The job at hand, however, requires the nuance and cynicism and calculated coldness of an adult; a little bitterness wouldn’t hurt either.

Obama doesn’t have a corner on hope, Clinton and Edwards are optimistic as well, but it does seem to be the only arrow in his quiver and that will not be enough. I’ll take Warrior Princess Xena at my side over Friar Tuck, every time.

Correctness correction completed, thanks for the invitation, always a pleasure.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

he "found Jesus" somewhere on the campaign trail. wow, i'm so surprised. not. i suppose it plays into the xtian narrative of the prodigal son, nicely. another check on the list proving he's "God's Choice." blech.

so then i'm right, and black churches should be more suspicious and critical of obama's recent love affair with the holy. they are when white politicians do it, some of the sermons i've heard about that blistered my ears with Righteousness. but hey, whatever- i think most church 'leaders' are in it for the money and sex. so what do i know, so far as they're concerned.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

God commands us, through the grace of the blood and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, to forgive all who have sinned and welcome them into the bosom of the Church, say Alleluia! It is not our place as humans to question the will of God, but to accept it. If Obama as a young adult was called by the Spirit and saved, that is a cause for celebration and rejoicing, not for cynicism. And if by embracing Barak as a Brother in Christ it so happens that money shall flow like Honey from the Rock into the hands of the Church to enable it to spread the Good Word and do Good Works, all the more proof that our God is a good and caring and merciful God. It’s all about the point of view, eh?

I think you’re wrong about Obama and his religious faith; I see a man who truly believes. That is to me very disturbing in a political leader, far more than if he actually were a cynic; I’m a cynic, you’re a cynic, at least we’d have that in common with him if not the hypocrisy. A True Believer, however, is almost always impossible to reason with; they do not approach reality with common sense. There are cynics, to be sure, in the ministry, black as well as white or brown, who are in it for the power and the money and Chicago is full of them, buddying up to the mob and the Daly machine and now Obama to scavenge off whatever scraps they can. There are also ministers of true faith, as deluded as Obama himself, and when they embrace him it is with the fullness of their heart. To my mind, from the standpoint of practical governance, the one is no better than the other.

Lincoln prayed, and then he got up off his knees and fired more generals until he found Grant and Sherman and then he turned them loose to do what needed doing. I don’t actually doubt that Obama wants to do right things, but I do doubt that faith in Jesus alone is a sufficient tool kit and he doesn’t seem to have anything more. The current Anointed One is sufficient religiosity for a while; I want a hard-ass with the fortitude to question themselves and their beliefs and the ability to be ruthless when necessary, and that is not Obama precisely because his faith is real.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

you say:

I think you’re wrong about Obama and his religious faith; I see a man who truly believes.

ok. let's say you're right. will you take it from me when i tell you, there is only one model for the 'truly religious' at the University of Chicago?

John Ashcroft. that is the only kind of 'true believer' (of the xtian type, other faiths are a whole nuther post) that thrives at the UoC. heh.

fwiw, i never got the impression from his wife, supporters or campaign workers from the campus community that he's what you and i would call a "true believer." great actor? perhaps, but hard core myth swallowing my-final-answer-is-jeebus believer? no. even my old boss, a real Black True Believer with some clout and power in the (financial) hierarchy of the U, kept that shit to herself. Chicago and religion only mix if you're dissecting the text and arguing over archaeology & philology, for all but a handful. pseudofascism? well of course that's AOK. mostly, those who go out into the world presenting as "believers" are faking it, imho.

seriously, you should've been there for one "ex-gay" speaker sponsored by a xtian group i went to one year. ho ho ho, even the conservatives in the audience mocked him for stupidly clinging to a foolish misinterpretation of scripture. smart, not gawd-stuffed, is what gets you creds in hyde park. even "stupid smart" like uncle miltie.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

There really is no conflict between Friedman economic policy and leading-edge Christian Evangelicism; see to the Prosperity Gospel of Crefelo Dollar and his ilk, send us your money and eventually something will come back to you – in this life or the next – which sounds to me a whole lot like trickle-down theory. Bullshit rip-off is what it is, flim-flam dressed up in Jesus-clothes with a PhD, but it sells to the gullible.

There is little difference between contemporary Evangelical Christianity and classical Puritanism, with queers as today’s witches and equally in need of purification. Be grateful that the dual meaning of faggot has not, as it were, caught fire in their thinking.

Obama can hold the theology of Friedman and his church in both his heart and his mind without conflict, and that truly is some scary shit. Speaking of which, I always did like Galbraith’s term for Friedman’s theories; Horse and Sparrow Economics. If you feed all the oats to the corporate horse, eventually he will crap out enough undigested to feed the sparrows. Somewhere in there is a pony graphic.

there is a difference in how the Black Church treats one of its own, compared to how White pols are treated. that’s not too controversial or insightful to know. indeed, it’s natural and goes on in all “whatever”-american communities. that doesn’t make it right or smart or in some protected category free of critique. all i’m asking is for a bunch of people who’ve made “faith” their living, to look more closely at a guy who seems to be no different than the same White pols that the Black Church repeatedly will call out for failing.

This is the kind of ambiguous race-baiting that is impossible to argue with, ms. dyke.

It’s full of assumption and presuppositions and prejudices that are, exhaustingly, to numerous counter. I hesitate in calling many of these points "straw men,” as that would be doing a disservice to logical fallacies.

You can't seem to get see past this convenient and exaggerated pseudo-knowledge regarding the characteristics of unfamiliar groups. These presuppositions are not "insightful to know," but just lazy prejudice, and has little to do with intellect at all.

I can sit here and point out what the Clintons and the Edwards have and have not done for the poor, or gauge the true and correct manner of their precise religiosity, or whether or not they are merely hypocrites vying for high office – I won’t.

However, if I chose to do so, I think I could make a pretty solid argument for or against for each of them, without their Whiteness, the Whiteness of their church, the Whiteness of their banks, their neighbors, their country club members, their children’s friends, etc., etc., etc., and what I can reasonably assume those White folks feel about Sen. Obama, being mentioned at all.

Ask yourself: Why does it seem difficult for liberals to make those same kind of color-neutral arguments for or against the non-White candidate? Perhaps, you may see why some others have so hard of a time voting that persuasion, as well.

Carry on with your blog.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

so all i'll say is that you and your kind only make your "religion" look like the one for lame, cowardly pussies, intellectually speaking. way to not address any of my points with facts or logic. you've got Faith, so i shouldn't be surprised. straw off.

race baiting, heh. i love it when people speak without knowing anything about me. who also claim i also have no real understanding of the black church. you cling to that, please-go on.. it's clear you're so much more informed about my life and experience than i am!

bon chance, petite mignon!

Submitted by lambert on

They throw the term around, but always have great difficulty actually engaging the argument by applying the term to a particular point.

This one seems a cut above the usual because of the "hesitate to call" riff.

But, as by now we have come to expect, the comment is as substance free as the oratory of Professor Baritone himself.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

make no sense at all.

However, if I chose to do so, I think I could make a pretty solid argument for or against for each of them, without their Whiteness, the Whiteness of their church, the Whiteness of their banks, their neighbors, their country club members, their children’s friends, etc., etc., etc., and what I can reasonably assume those White folks feel about Sen. Obama, being mentioned at all.

The brain, it hurts.

Submitted by lambert on

We're treating an automatic sentence generator as if it were sentient? I get that feeling a lot, with the OFB...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.