Obama and FaceBook Love

November 3, 2008
The Day Before
By Linda D. Addison

On the other side of this day
when voting is done,
counting finished, America
will be different,
history will document
this country
standing for
equality in a way
than can never be
denied again, in the face
of our own declarations
we will make a step
to Equality for all.

Remember this day
you will be different
whether you want to or not,
agree or not,
we have said
we stand for equality
for all, tomorrow
it will be closer to

With a Democratic House and Senate, I’m curious to see what all he accomplishes. Regardless, now, as always, I pray for our president and our nation. Of course, I immediately got this bit of love on my FaceBook wall:

Rejoice while you can. you sold your soul and for what? A black president? I’m all for a black president but no one, of any race, that stands for what he stands for should be in power. America will now to be run by a man who delights in MURDERING babies, a terrorist sympathizer (but wait the dwelling place is arrogant enough to think you’ve replaced Israel), & he’s a socialist. Well I hope it works out. As far as I’m concerned, America is gone, the values are gone, God has judged us, and everyone who sold their soul to the devil will rejoice for a time but one day God will restore Israel to their rightful place as His firstborn, the Jews will be exalted, any true Christians left will be in a new heaven & new Earth & everyone who sided with evil will be held accountable. So all the obama supporters should rejoice while they can b/c one day they will all pay the price of killing 40 million babies, cursing Israel, fighting for gay rights which is an abomination to God. good luck with that

Um. Yeah. Another satisfied Dobson customer. If you play by the politics of fear, then it should be no surprise when your people run scared.

So I’ll close out this political season by leaving you with Brian Keene’s The Day After: ‘We The People…’ and Feo Amante’s My Guy Lost and …

Not Dancing to the Tune of the Pied Dobson

Up until a few months ago, I was still getting political forwards in my e-mail inbox. In light of a few posts, I quit getting them, however, my wife had no such luck and received the letter from 2012 from James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. Ok, I’ll admit, James Dobson’s antics this political season have been getting on my nerves for a while (and this isn’t including the time he went after SpongeBob SquarePants). This fictional letter is written by a Christian from 2012 informing readers of the horrors that may happen if Barack Obama is elected president. I’m officially dubbing this letter Project Fail (and I’ll lump into it this project all of the tactics of fear-mongering and race baiting).

We get it in our heads that one political party speaks for Christendom. I have no problem with our spirituality informing our politics, but have huge problems with our politics informing our spirituality. When politics becomes our religion, with only two agenda points that all “right thinking Christians”/“True Believers” need to base their vote on: abortion and gay marriage. We position leaders to whom we look to for salvation. Their stump speeches become sermons. Their rallies serve as revival meetings.

It cuts both ways. There are black churches that condemn Republicans as evil (and black Republicans as sell outs) and white churches that proclaim that the Republican agenda God’s agenda, and anyone against it amoral, irreligious, or anti-God. I’ve been to Republican and Democratic meetings and found them both attended by people who love this country and seek its best interests (and both opened their meetings in prayer, but this is Indiana).

As a church-cum-political action committee, we’ve been out to amass and wield power. This is the epitome of being of the world and conforming to its ways. I chalk up Project Fail as the last gasp of the Christian right as we’ve known it, though I fully expect 2012 to bring us a new brand of conservative. I’ve been doing some thinking about the idea of the Christian right and how they’ve framed a lot of the discussion about Christianity and politics, and I’ve come to a few conclusions:

1) Have you ever wondered that whenever folks talk about the Christian right, what “the church” should be doing, and Evangelicals in general, that maybe they should just say “white, conservative Evangelicals”? With the size of the black church in America, do you really think “all right thinking Christians” jumped on the Reagan/Bush/Gingrich bandwagon?

2) Religion informing politics is not a bad idea … on paper. In practice is where things become muddled. Actually, they only become muddled when the idea becomes prescriptive rather than descriptive. Here’s what I mean. I have spiritual beliefs that have defined my political views on things. I’m pro-life. I believe we need to be stewards of the environment. I believe we ought to be about “the least of these” (the poor, widows, children, etc). Now HOW we’re to accomplish those things are up for debate. I can’t just say “all right thinking Christians need to define pro-life ‘this way’ and we can only accomplish the end goal of our position with ‘this method.'”

3) There’s the rise of Christian left. I’m talking about the Brian McLarens, the Shane Clairbornes, the Jim Wallis’ of the world. I don’t think this is either good or bad (as jumping into bed with Democrats is no better a solution than jumping in bed with Republicans). What this does accomplish is re-frame the discussion so that there’s not just “one Christian way” to do things. there can be other ideas and actions that can be just as much Christian.

In the fervor of the election season, I can’t help but be reminded of the Old Testament Israelites who clamored for a king. They had some good kings and some bad kings, often getting the leader they deserved. I don’t look to politics to solve many of our problems, no matter who is in office. The church is not a political action committee. The church has a mission, a missio dei, God’s mission. The church needs to be about manifesting God’s love in sacrificial service to the world. We’ll soon know who the new leader of our country is and whoever it is, I will remember two things: 1) to pray for him and 2) that God is sovereign.

Take the Mic from Jesse

Despite Rev. Jesse Jackson’s unfortunate fascination with Barack Obama’s testicles, I agree that the last thing we need is another brother pointing the finger at the black community in front of white folks. It smacks more of them staring down their nose in judgment of the community while seeking white folks approval than it does truly engaging in conversation. However, I don’t think this charge can stick to Barack Obama.

Obama wants to expand President Bush’s federal assistance for faith-based social service programs to allow those closest to the problems to be on the frontlines of being the solution. However, this comes on the heels of a speech Obama gave last month chastising black fathers who were “acting like boys instead of men,” and adding that “we need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child — it’s the courage to raise one.”

Obama gets it coming and going: first he doesn’t speak enough to the problems of the black community; and then it’s “oh, oh, oh, you can’t say that about us, that’s condescending” or “talking down to black people.” I think the issue is two fold: one, the nature of family meetings, and two, the best ways to address the problems facing the black community.

In recent years, some of our prominent leaders (though I don’t recall ever having these elections) have spoken about the problems the black community faces. Bill Cosby got batted around by some. Before that, even Jesse Jackson himself had a “family meeting” where he spoke about the problems we faced and what we had to do to solve them. Things have gotten so strange for me, I found myself agreeing with Al Sharpton when he said “The civil rights movement of the 21st century must be government accountability and personal responsibility.”

So I don’t think anyone’s quibbling with the message, per se, but rather where the family meeting is held and in front of whom, because no one wants dirty laundry/family business aired. Barack Obama’s not running for Preacher in Chief. He’s not running for Chief of Black Folks. He’s running for President. Of all of us. In the meantime, I’ll be here, not thinking about what I’d like to do to his testicles and still waiting on my 40 acres and a mule.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

Dobson and Obama

I’ve about had it with some of the Evangelical popes.

“Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?” The main thrust of Sen. Barack Obama’s point was about how to be religious and live out one’s faith in a pluralistic society and do so in a way that respects the views of others. Yet, the James Dobsons of the world, rather than wrestle with this point, have used this as an opportunity to wage war on Obama. Dobson did evangelical Christians, and the country a disservice in misrepresenting the intent of Obama’s comments.

The religious right is at a bit of a crossroads, finding their power and influence waning, their voice soon to be given less of an ear (because, let’s face it, neither Sen. John McCain nor Barack Obama are exactly their poster children). Frankly, I thought the central hypocrisy of the religious right was exposed with Mitt Romney campaign: he WAS their poster child on every issue. However, he was Mormon, so his beliefs couldn’t be trusted.

Of course how we view the Bible is shaped by our times and cultural mores. Folks involved in the slavery debate were so tied to their economic realities, not to mention blinded by their racism, that they simply could not see their way to the Bible clearly. Whose Christianity should have been embraced?

“‘You are the salt of the earth.’” Jesus’ words were recorded in the book of Matthew. Think of the implications of salt when it comes to cooking. When you notice salt in a dish, when something is too salty, it spoils the dish. Salt in small doses is a supportive ingredient, it brings out taste and acts as a preservative. Salt, especially in Jesus’ day, was a commodity. People valued it and used to trade for it. When was the last time you heard anyone describe the church, or its representatives, this way?

Our spiritual lives should be embodied by those who call themselves Christian and lived out according to the mission of helping to redeem creation. James Dobson doesn’t speak for me. Al Sharpton doesn’t speak for me. Jesse Jackson doesn’t speak for me. And it looks like they are speaking for fewer and fewer people.

Run, Obama, Run

In keeping with my recent track record, my vote is up for grabs. Either party. I’m just waiting for someone to convince me to vote for them. Honestly, is the most interesting part of the electoral process how we treat the election like a horse race? Since politics as entertainment is a blog for another day, several horses have announced their entry into the fray, but I’m particularly intrigued by the excitement Barack Obama has generated.

As a writer, I’m all about storylines and right now, the most interesting storyline so far in the race is Obama. Sure, one of the reasons why he has gotten so much attention is because he’s black. Not just black, but a popular candidate with a real shot at getting the nomination. There are many things that have been covered with respect to Obama, from the trivial (he’s handsome, he SMOKES!) to more relevant discussions (his experience, a conversation that ought to subside considering Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s bid). However, it is the question of his ontological blackness that intrigues me.

He didn’t come up through the civil rights political machine, which means there are those who question his “commitment to the cause” (the usual suspects being those who want to hold him at a distance while still reserving a dinner spot at the power table in case he wins).

“Black,” in our political and social reality, means those descended from West African slaves. Voluntary immigrants of African descent (even those descended from West Indian slaves) are just that, voluntary immigrants of African descent with markedly different outlooks on the role of race in their lives and in politics. At a minimum, it can’t be assumed that a Nigerian cabdriver and a third-generation Harlemite have more in common than the fact a cop won’t bother to make the distinction. They’re both “black” as a matter of skin color and DNA, but only the Harlemite, for better or worse, is politically and culturally black, as we use the term.

I get what the writer is saying, though I whole-heartedly disagree with her final assessment. Building on her semi-point, a race of people could be defined as a people with a shared story, that is, experience, heritage, culture (insofar as it goes deeper than appreciating the aesthetics), and most importantly, history. History is the story of individuals coming together. Authentic blackness is about personal responsibility, pride and a sense of history and community. It means staying true to yourself, your faith, your life and constantly seeking the truth. This whole “blacker than thou”/”I’m I black enough for you” game is utter foolishness. It buys into the racist construct of race in the first place, and smacks of the days of classifying black people by the amount of black blood that they had (octaroon, quadroon, etc.). Plus, it ignores the fact that Obama self-identifies as black.

On the flip side, while he’s not black enough for some, you can tell he’s “black enough” for others. I’m a strong believer in the fact that words mean things and how words can shape us. All of the talk I’m hearing (while trying to ignore the air of surprise when he’s described) about how “clean” and “articulate” Obama is reminds me of Chris Rock’s routine describing General Colin Powell as “so well-spoken.” Translated, white people, this is your cue that he’s alright to vote for. You want to find out how black someone is, if the “clean” and “well-spoken” talk doesn’t clue you in, then apply the Klan test: you can be as articulate as you want from the end of their rope.

Though, I’m already on record believing that a black male will be president of this country before a woman of any color.

My hopes for Obama are high, and it’s not because of the “black thing.” It’s because he communicates hope. We live in a cynical age, a time of particular distrust of our president and government. One of the most important, and under-appreciated, roles of the presidency is to be our national cheerleader. The best two, of recent memory, at speaking to the people were Presidents Reagan and Clinton. Obama is under the microscope, the anal examination that comes with increased media scrutiny, his every word parsed, speech dissected, and gesture analyzed. He may be young to public life, but the process will mature him quickly. Maybe Obama is too “racially transcendent” for some, but maybe that’s exactly what this country needs right now.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.