Thursday, August 28, 2008

Book Review: The Audacity of Hope

For the first time, a non-white person has a reasonable chance of becoming the next President of the United States of America. At long last, one of the major political parties in this country has nominated an African-American. Praise God!

Tonight before a capacity crowd at Invesco Field in nearby Denver, Senator Barack Obama will be giving his presidential nomination acceptance speech during the Democratic National Convention.

This morning, I'm sitting at my favorite coffee shop in deep blue Boulder, sipping my favorite blend of green tea, listening to great music from Indelible Grace, enjoying the view of the Flatirons, and reflecting on what's going on in our country.

Why read Obama's book? Because I don't want to be an uninformed voter. I want to be able to answer questions that people in my life (especially my kids) are asking me about the upcoming presidential election. If I'm going to vote for someone (or against someone), I had better be able to give reasons why when asked. So here goes...

What I Like About Barack Obama and The Audacity of Hope:

1) Barack Obama publicly professes faith in Jesus Christ. In the recent Saddleback Civil Forum, he said clearly that he personally believes that Jesus died for his sins.

2) Barack Obama displays a strong commitment to his wife and children. Like me, he has a bright and beautiful wife and two very cute and precocious girls. Any man who can live with three women has earned my respect.

3) Obama is a very good writer! There's no "strategery" in his communication. I find this very refreshing in a presidential candidate. In an age when TV presence is the dominant success factor, it's good to have a man skilled in the literary arts vying for public office. Here is a prime example from the end of his first chapter on Republicans and Democrats:

“We paint our faces red or blue and cheer our side and boo their side, and if it takes a late hit or cheap shot to beat the other team, so be it, for winning is all that matters.

But I don’t think so. They are out there, I think to myself, those ordinary citizens who have grown up in the midst of all the political and cultural battles, but who have found a way - in their own lives, at least - to make peace with their neighbors and themselves.

I imagine the white Southerner who growing up heard his dad talk about niggers this and niggers that but who has struck up a friendship with the black guys at the office and is trying to teach his own son different, who thinks discrimination is wrong but doesn’t see why the son of a black doctor should get admitted into law school ahead of his own son. Or the former Black Panther who decided to go into real estate, bought a few buildings in the neighborhood, and is just as tired of the drug dealers in front of those buildings as he is of the bankers who won’t give him a loan to expand his business. There’s the middle-aged feminist who still mourns her abortion, and the Christian woman who paid for her teenager’s abortion, and the millions of waitresses and temp secretaries and nurse’s assistants and Wal-Mart associates who hold their breath every single month in the hope that they’ll have enough money to support the children that they did bring into the world.

I imagine they are waiting for a politics with the maturity to balance idealism and realism, to distinguish between what can and cannot be compromised, to admit the possibility that the other side might sometimes have a point. They don’t always understand the arguments between right and left, conservative and liberal, but they recognize the difference between dogma and common sense, responsibility and irresponsibility, between those things that last and those that are fleeting. They are out there, waiting for the Republicans and Democrats to catch up with them.”

This is great writing. And in both his writing and his speaking, Obama often uses a climactic grand style like this to drive home his points with tremendous emotional force.

4) He chose a great title for his book. That title phrase - The Audacity of Hope - is taken from the words of Obama’s own pastor, of all people! Perhaps now more than at any other time in American history, the role of our pastors is often marginalized. That Obama has written publicly with respect for his pastor is a good thing in and of itself (regardless of what you may think about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright).

And that phrase - the audacity of hope - is a great phrase. To Obama, it represents “the best of the American spirit...having the audacity to believe despite all the evidence to the contrary that we could restore a sense of community to a nation torn by conflict; the gall to believe that despite personal setbacks, the loss of a job or an illness in the family or a childhood mired in poverty, we had some control - and therefore responsibility - over our own fate. It was that audacity, I thought, that joined us as one people. It was that pervasive spirit of hope that tied my own family’s story to the larger American story, and my own story to those of the voters I sought to represent.”

In such a cynical age, who doesn’t need a greater vision of hope? Who doesn’t want to restore “a sense of community to a nation torn by conflict”? Who doesn’t want to see “a pervasive spirit of hope” join Americans together “as one people”?

5) Obama is right to try to build bridges between people in our divided country. “Spend time actually talking to Americans, and you discover that most evangelicals are more tolerant than the media would have us believe, most secularists more spiritual.” (p.51)

6) Barack Obama has a proven commitment of working to better the lives of the less fortunate. His work as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago is to be admired. His concern for their educational, economic and other needs (including health insurance) is good and right. Obama's attempts to expand the moral issues that evangelicals are concerned about is also good and right. We should be talking about and working for social justice issues as well as life issues and marriage issues. The narrowness of the American Evangelical's political perspective is a big problem which leads to far too much inaction here at home and internationally.

7) Barack Obama wants to end the war in Iraq. Whether or not you think that his proposals to end the Iraq War are responsible, doing one's utmost to end war is good and right. And the fact is that he was one of the few in our congress who spoke against entering the Iraq War, keenly and staunchly questioning the wisdom of invading Iraq based on the evidence that we had at the time. As it turns out, the evidence for Saddam Hussein's Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction was not there as our President George W. Bush and his administration had assured us. Those who believe in just war theory (as I do) must admit that the absence of this evidence seriously calls into question whether the Iraq War is a just war after all. What a mess we have gotten ourselves into. Such is real life our fallen world. As the two ways to live outline says, humankind has failed to rule ourselves or society or the world as God would have us rule the world under His just and good authority.

What I Don't Like About Barack Obama and The Audacity of Hope:

1) Obama does not appear to have a personally held conviction about the inspiration and authority of the Bible. This has led to an apparent stunting of his spiritual growth and his abandoning of a Christian worldview in so many critical moral decisions that he has been making during his relatively short political career. At the end of his chapter on faith in the Audacity of Hope, Obama expressess much more doubt than he does faith on the most important question his daughter will ever ask him (and the most important question that he will ever ask of himself): "What happens after we die?" Furthermore, his dismissive interpretation of the clear message of Romans chapter 1 in The Audacity of Hope shows that Barack Obama thinks his reasoning capacities are a greater authority than the Bible. And apparently the Bible has had no effect on his moral reasoning about abortion, as reflected in his answer to this question in the Saddleback Civil Forum: "At what point does a child get human rights?" Hesitating and avoiding the question by saying that the answer is "above his pay grade" is unacceptable from any Christian who wants to lead this country through our current political divisions rooted the abortion issue. It is clear where Obama is leading on the abortion issue and where he is leading is not headed toward the vision of hope and unity that he speaks so well about.

2) Obama thinks too highly of the ideals of the period of history known as "the enlightenment". In his chapter on values, rather than a clear acknowledgment of the Lordship of Jesus Christ in any area of life, Obama again overemphasizes our capacities to do right. Without any acknowledgment of the realities of the fall of mankind into sin, Obama has based too much of his hope upon our individual freedom, self-reliance, self-improvement, and faith in free will. There is no such thing as free will. Sure, we do what we want to do. But, if we're honest, we will admit that what we want to do is sin. Until God gives us new hearts, our wills remain enslaved to sin (demanding to be our own god and doing wrong to others and ourselves). When God causes a person to be born again, he sets their will free at last to obey His law and live a holy life by the power of the Holy Spirit. These are basic concepts of the Christian worldview and life that I hear no hint of in Obama's speaking and writing.

3) Obama considers the U.S. Constitution to be a “living document” which must be “read in the context of an ever-changing world.” Obama says it is “unrealistic to believe that a judge, two hundred years later, can somehow discern the original intent of the Founders or ratifiers.” The democracy outlined in the United States Constitution is not so much “a house to be built” as it is “a conversation to be had”, and “what the framework of our constitution can do is organize the way by which we argue about our future.”

“The founders may have trusted in God, but true to the Enlightenment spirit, they also trusted in the minds and senses that God had given them.”

“I am robbed even of the certainty of uncertainty -- for sometimes absolute truths may well be absolute.”

These ideas turn politics into a nothing more than an exercise of power without any solid moral foundation.

4) Obama's audacious hope is sadly naive. It has blinded him to the effects of the fall of mankind into sin. This has led him to embrace flawed economic policies that naively assume that human government is able to make decisions that actually work well.

“Like Bob Rubin, I am optimistic about the long-term prospects for the U.S. economy and the ability of U.S. workers to compete in a free trade environment - but only if we distribute the costs and benefits of globalization more fairly across the population.”

Who is “we”? On what basis do we determine if the redistribution of wealth is fair?

“I simply believe that those of us who have benefited most from this new economy can best afford to shoulder the obligation of ensuring every American child has a chance for the same success.” Agreed, but that doesn't answer my question.

5) Obama is courting evangelical voters and wants them to exchange the issues of life and marriage for issues of social justice. I'm more than willing to have the range of issues that evangelicals are concerned about expand to include education, health care, affirmative action, economic opportunity and ending war. But asking us to forget about the critical ethical issues of life and marriage that we face in our culture is asking too much. It's asking for the impossible for anyone who truly believes in the authority and inspiration of the Bible.

Concluding Assessment of Barack Obama and The Audacity of Hope:

Barack Obama is a great man. Any man who can obtain a presidential nomination is a great man. The first black man to accept his party's presidential nomination is a very great man. He appears to be a Christian (albeit significantly spiritually immature) who loves his wife and kids. I admire him. But in good conscience, I cannot vote for him. How about you?

Obama, Barack, The Audacity of Hope, Crown Publishing/Three Rivers Press, New York, 2006, $14.95


Becky said...

I have a few comments that address the latter half of your review, all in the 'why I won't vote for him' category:

1) You speak as though you expect him to be a pastor rather than a president. What happened to the "separation of church and state"? If your support for a presidential candidate is based on such expectations, then why not your children's teachers? Why not their principal? Why not your doctors? Are these people not more directly involved in shaping the lives of the people you love?

And why shouldn't he have doubts? I would rather a man express his doubts and allow others to see him as a man who doesn't have all the answers than hear him proudly exclaim that he has it all figured out. I can relate to the former. The latter is fooling himself, not me.

3) Correct me if I'm wrong, but if the document was unchangeable and non-amendable, then Obama himself wouldn't be allowed to vote, let alone be a senator or run for president. Neither would Hillary, for that matter.

I seems daft to suggest that a document written by men alone be applicable from now until the end of time.

4) I believe it is called taxation.

5) Here's what I see: You have to choose between two options, both are flawed, and neither will solve all your problems. Perhaps a world in which the rich become richer and the poor become poorer, and yet family values are supposedly held in high regard (for the purpose of obtaining your vote) is your lesser of the two evils. Or perhaps the idea of a nation where everyone is entitled to public health care and a decent education, where war is questioned and where fairness and equality are emphasized, and where the church is commissioned with the responsibility of upholding family values, will change your mind.

I, too, cannot vote for Obama, but I would if I could. Unfortunately, as a foreigner, I just don't get to vote.

Anonymous said...

well said becky...throughout!

Brian Y said...

Hey Scott - great book review. Thanks for sharing both sides...I think many of the things you say ring true for me as well. There is a lot to like about Obama, but in the end I will not vote for him either.

For me, the biggest issue I have is probably along your lines of the truth of scripture and absolute truth. I read a great editorial that was very convincing about Obama being a Postmodernist. Here is the link:

While neither presidential candidate is ideal, I'm much more concerned about a president who changes his opinion of truth and right vs wrong based on his experience, feelings and attitudes at any given point. Not the type of person I would like to see leading our country.

Thanks for sparking some dialogue!

Agnus said...

I didn't read the book.
I think I have better things to do with my time. (Like clean the funk from under my toenails).

Your assessment is very spiritual in nature. Not an assessment I would use to determine whether I would vote for a candidate. And an assessment I believe is now only available in modern times, during the last 100 years, most of the information about candidates was read not seen, and they were not asked questions anything like what Rick Warren asked them. If Truman was asked what Jesus meant to him I imagine he would answer "that is none of your business".

My break from Obama is on policy. He is the 3rd most liberal voter in the Senate, with Biden and Kennedy ahead of him. His votes have ranged from abolishing personal liberties (2nd amendment, increasing taxes, increasing government size, role, and responsibility, taking power away from the states, supporting judges that legislate from the bench, and lack of support for the partial birth abortion ban. The real meat and potatoes for me is the issue of entitlement vs. opportunity. I am reminded of the the "Blue as Blue can be" areas of New Orleans that as the flood waters rose folks stuck around for their welfare check, and a bus to pick them up. I consider how I would have handled a situation like that, and cannot imagine myself sitting and waiting as the water rose. I believe a policy of entitlement (the gold standard of the modern democratic party) led to the abolition of the family structure in the lower class by replacing the patriarchal bread winner with a government check, and by creating an entire socio-economic class that seems incapable of personal responsibility.
His stance on the redistribution of wealth is against every fiber of entrepreneurial spirit this country thrives on, and is discourages seeking success, innovation, and punishes those that work hard to reward those that don't.

In regards to the constitution, the amendment process is the designed way to change the constitution, it was developed for that purpose. INTERPRETATION of the current document to fluctuate your understanding of what it says based on the day of the week is absurd and not the intent of the founding fathers (and this is what is meant when the liberal justices on the supreme court describe it as a "living document".

Taxation is designed to pay for our government to function, not to provide redistribution of wealth. That is a socialist view. What is charity? should we be taxed instead of giving money to the poor? or our service? I agree that churches need to step up to support their communities more so the government doesn't try and shoulder the burden (mostly because when they do it is one of the most inefficient ineffective machinations I have ever had the displeasure of observing).

Overall, good review Scott. You were braver than I to read "The Audacity of Hype", and braver still to come up with 7 things you like about him. He seems more sincere than other recent candidates.

I would have voted for Ron Paul if he would have run as an independent, if he would have softened his views on non-interventionism.

I want to see your review of "The Obama Nation".

Becky said...


To quote something I read last week: "you say 'socialist' like it's a bad thing."

I, for one, would rather my tax dollars be spent on education, health care and scientific research that will secure our children a better future than on war.

Taxes do not negate charity.

Public health care is not charity.

Taxes do not negate innovation.

hockeyboy5 said...

Thanks for an insightful review, Scott. I'm troubled by Obama's unwillingness to accept the claim of Jesus to be THE way. I'm not sure you can be a true Christian while rejecting Christ's own assertion of exclusivity. Isn't that calling Jesus a liar or lunatic? It's certainly not naming Him as Lord. I don't think a president has to be a Christian, but I think a Christian has to believe Christ.

My other big concern is Obama's refusal to oppose late term abortions. Despite ex-QB Heath Shuler and a few others, the Democrats are still the party of abortion. Pastor Susan Thistlewaite was well-received at the first interfaith caucus here in Denver when she said she was in favor of abortion if the mom felt unable to provide adequate education. And that was to a group that would theoretically be the most pro-life of the convention. That's pretty sad.

As for the war, it would be a horrible shame to waste the sacrifice of so many by leaving Iraq prematurely after so much has been accomplished, especially since Petraeus took over. Let's not forget that Saddam wanted us to think he had WMD, and Democrats like Clinton called for a response. See The Long War Journal for reports the mainstream media tends to miss.

hockeyboy5 said...

What happened to the "separation of church and state"?

Becky, that's a liberal fiction found nowhere in the Constitution or Bill of Rights, so why should it matter to Scott?

I'm not a big McCain fan myself (he's no Ronald Reagan), but I've never seen the Democrats emphasize fairness and equality any more than the Republicans. Both sides are big talk until they get power and then find they like it and want to keep it. Lord Acton was right: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

Becky said...

Just an observation that occurred to me later this evening: since I have been old enough to pay attention to politics, it has NEVER been an issue whether or not a party leader in Canada is a professing Christian. Perhaps that is why it is so foreign to me why it matters whether or not a Presidential candidate professes flawless theology.

And I just don't believe that morality can be legislated.

brent said...

Good thoughts. I share your conclusion, if not all of your concerns. I'm not sure enough about the nature of the other candidates religious views to know if I like them any better! However, I tend to favor liberal conservatives over conservative liberals as a view I can more easily identify with. They are both approaching the center (what a concept!), but from different directions ...

Anonymous said...

Yes We Can! Go Obama! :-0

obsessiveskier said...

Becky: I'm not saying that someone has to be a Christian to be a good candidate for president. I'm just saying that I like the fact that Obama says that he's a Christian. But if you read his chapter on faith in The Audacity of Hope, you will find that a lot more doubt than belief. About the constitution, I'm concerned about the way he interprets an historical text. I'm not opposed to constitutional amendments being made by following constitutional processes. Regarding how Obama is courting evangelical voters, you're right, we now face two very different choices. In this situation we have to make decisions about which moral/social issues are most important and make the best voting decisions we can. About legislating morality...why do we have laws against murder?

Brian Y: I liked the Postmodernism article you linked in, but I'm not sure I would use the author's label of "Liberal Fascism"...the fascists of the 20th century were much different from our liberal friends.

Agnus: See my response to Becky. Where is Ron Paul these days? And no, I won't be reviewing Obama Nation.

Hockeyboy5: Do you think Obama is a Christian, based on his statements in the Saddleback Civil Forum? How logically consistent must a person's theological beliefs about Jesus be in order for them to become a Christian? Obama appears to affirm the essence of the gospel...that Jesus died for our sins. How would you respond if someone asked you if you thought Obama was a Christian?

Brent: I'm not sure I see the difference between a liberal conservative and a conservative liberal. Will you please clarify that for me?

Becky said...

I have no problem with legislation that deals with crimes. I'm all about that.

But when you say "issues of life and marriage", to what are you referring?

If by "life" you mean the abortion issue, then by all means, I am with you. But perhaps you also need to consider the lives of the countless men, women and children who have been affected by the Iraq war.

But what about marriage? Are there crimes against marriage that you think need to be legislated against? Where does the deviation from an individual's morality end and the crime begin? I'm not suggesting that we should ignore immorality. I just don't think that issues of morality should dictate politics when they are so often simply political ploys to garner votes.

Again - my background, as a Canadian, makes me less tolerant of religious issues being at the forefront of politics, because I don't think that politics and religion should mix.

obsessiveskier said...


I know you and I know you're not for more crime. The point of my last question to you was to ask why you are opposed to a crime like murder? On what basis do you determine that murder is wrong and should be legislated against?

By "life issues" I do mean abortion, as well as other important moral issues such as euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research that requires the commodification and destruction of human embryos, and human cloning (which isn't too far off on our horizon, even though that sounds like a science fiction movie plot).

Yes there are crimes against marriage that I think we should legislate against. The FLDS was recently in the headlines for its practice of "plural marriage", AKA polygamy, often with girls far under the age of 18. This is abusive to girls and women and their children and should be legislated against. Other evils in our society that destroy marriages and families include adultery, no-fault divorce and homosexual practices. The Bible gives us wisdom to answer the questions about where an individuals morality ends and where a crime begins. How we interpret and apply God's Law/Torah/Instruction to our cultural context is a critically important theological and practical political issue. And for those of you who may be wondering, no I am not a theonomist, nor am I advocating for a theocracy.

About the dangers of mixing of religion and politics...your perspective is not just a Canadian thing, lots of people in various Western Cultures will agree with that. If you're advocating religious liberty and opposing the establishment of any sort of state-sponsored religion, me and all my friends in the Baptist tradition are right there with you.

obsessiveskier said...

Here's a bit of email conversation that I've been having with my friend Vahe (posted with his permission).

Hey – good review – am voting for Barack – you should too –
Don’t tell me that you won’t because his religious (or spiritual) views are immature – at least compared to yours stud J

I am the token registered republican that is voting for Obama because (a few observations):

Hope is a healing and powerful quality – and is the root of everything Christian – He exemplifies this
Wisdom is a rare quality that we have lacked in political leadership – He represents this
Family values is a newly coined term that most people cannot even live out – He lives this
Policy – though I am not big on big government programs – I like his stance and view on welfare and helping the disenfranchised – He symbolizes this
And lastly … he has stood firm on affirmation of the Armenian genocide amid big pressure from lobbying and foreign and domestic influence – something that shows me strength of character and a well placed moral caliber.

Meagan looks amazing – you are a lucky man (we both are).
See you soon,


My response:
Hey Vahe,

Thanks for reading the review. It's great to hear from you!

As I've tried to clarify in the comments section of the blog, my assessment of Barack Obama's spiritual beliefs as immature is NOT the biggest reason that I will not be voting for him. I could vote (and have voted) for candidates that are not Christians. The reason I included that in my review is because, as an evangelical pastor, I sometimes get asked whether or not I think Barack Obama is a Christian, especially as the language he has been using to describe his spiritual journey has changed a bit while he has been courting evangelical voters (for example, note the difference in the way he talks about his faith in the book and the way he spoke at the Saddleback Civil Forum).

I liked reading your observations about Obama and why you will be voting for him...may I post those observations in the comments section of the blog?

About hope...Obama certainly communicates hope to Americans. But is hope really the root of EVERYTHING Christian? I thought Jesus was. ;-)

About wisdom...Obama certainly is incredibly knowledgeable, and his speaking out about the Iraq war demonstrated both wisdom and courage.

About family looks to me like he's doing a great job as a husband and father. Hats off to him, especially given his family background. May more men follow his example.

About policy...I loved many of his proposals in the speech last night, but I'm not sure I can believe him when he says he's going to do all that and cut taxes for 95% of Americans. What do you think?

About the Armenian Genocide...It's a shame that McCain won't affirm it as clearly as he should.

Also, what do you think of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP choice? She looks pretty spunky and has a bit of that maverick feel, but I'm not sure I want such a politically inexperienced hockey mom holding the codes to the nukes if McCain dies of an aneurysm next year. :-0 I was hoping he was going to pick Lieberman, but it's time for a female VP at least.

The exchange that followed:

Vahe: Well you know, hope, faith, Jesus, …. they are not that far apart. One without the other, well …. ;)

Scott: LOL

Vahe: You can post anything/everything

Scott: Thanks.

Vahe: – I like your viewpoint – I think you are closer to Mr. Obama than you realize...

Scott: I hope so.

Vahe: Palin was supposed to get the Hillary vote – not going to happen as her view on many fronts are RADICALLY different ….

Scott: I think you may be right on that prediction...

Vahe: Interesting times we live in.

Scott: That's for sure!

brent boren said...

Ah... Good question.
I consider myself a conservative - mostly based on my upbringing, background, beliefs and approaches. However, after living in Boulder county for 19 years, and extensive study of the bible for around 20 years or so, I have very much softened my conservative approach.
You are probably familiar with my religious background (for example) and everyone except the extreme right wing would call it conservative. However, the things I have been teaching the last few years are considered extremely liberal by the conservatives I once identified with (I agree BTW). Even with all of that, I tend to be more conservative in my initial approach and more liberal once I get going.
I would describe a conservative liberal as having similar positions to mine, but a liberal initial approach. I guess I would say that we often end up in a similar place, but we get there from different directions.
Personally, I think the path you take to your destination is important (or at least significant). Therefore, I identify more readily with someone near the center that approaches their position from the conservative side.
I'm not sure if I explained this or further confounded my earlier comments ...

obsessiveskier said...

Thanks, Brent! That makes a lot more sense to me know.

lillijackcam said...

Hi Scott,

Glad you took the time to read it. It is not on my list.

Why do you say, "non-white person" instead of black? The media certainly has embraced "black".

Reading points 1 - 6 makes me want to vote for the man. He "believes", and like you said has a grand style of writing and speaking that can be very engaging, even inspiring.

To quote you:

-"In such a cynical age, who doesn’t need a greater vision of hope? Who doesn’t want to restore “a sense of community to a nation torn by conflict”? Who doesn’t want to see “a pervasive spirit of hope” join Americans together “as one people”?'

You mention his work as a community organizer. That still seems like such a vague title, and from what I have heard can be interpreted in different ways. Mainly, I have not really seen or heard of what he actually accomplished by that much touted history. I don't think he has made that clear... but I am digressing.

In number 7 you mention the...

"the fact is that he was one of the few in our congress who spoke against entering the Iraq War, keenly and staunchly questioning the wisdom of invading Iraq based on the evidence that we had at the time."

My understanding is that as a state senator, he, number one, was NOT in congress, and thus was NOT given the same evidence, and finally his less informed opinion made absolutely no difference to the decision. The entire congress decided to support the war. The world was in agreement that Iraq had WMD's. I think it is disingenuous for Obama to stand there and exault himself above all of Congress, saying he was opposed to the war from the beginning when he was not in Congress at the time.

"his reasoning capacities are a greater authority than the Bible" - or anyone else for that matter...

Then, reading what you don't like about Obama, I agree entirely. I do not have the time right now to get into it because in my opinion his thinking is so flawed, so contradictory, so naive, so socialist (which would only work in a redeemed world), so contrary to "American freedom" - Additionally, he says "America is not what it once was,... not what it can be." (in answer to the child that asked why he was running for P.). He is such a contradiction - he wants to make me feel racist (impose "white guilt"), and complains about how racist America is and not what it was, yet, here he is an example of how DIFFERENT America is than it was when he was born. I WISH I could choose a black man for president, but like MLK said of his dream... "judged by the content of his character, not the color of his skin." Obama's skin color is his advantage in regards to me, but his character is a shifting sand.

Becky said...


The world was NOT in agreement that Iraq had WMDs, even if by "world" you mean every nation and not every individual. I believe that the "coalition of the willing" was actually a very small contingency of the "world".

then again, many Americans tend to think of the USA as the world.

Also, I imagine that Scott used the term "non-white" because there are a lot of races that have yet to be represented in the oval office. That doesn't even adress the whole "he's not fully black" issue. He's actually a mixed race individual. (I believe that is the current politically correct term.)

hockeyboy5 said...

Becky, I agree that morality can't be legislated if you mean that sinners will continue to sin, and laws don't change hearts. That didn't stop God from giving the Ten Commandments, or Jesus from adding even higher standards. Do you want there to be consequences for kindergarten teachers who abuse little boys? Of course, so that Kai is safer in school than if "anything goes" ruled the day. Likewise, making abortions illegal won't stop them, but it will reduce the number of babies who are murdered. Obama is the most pro-abortion presidential candidate in history.

Scott: How would you respond if someone asked you if you thought Obama was a Christian?

I think you just asked. I'll answer, "Only God knows." Yes, it's a cop-out, but as I pointed out, can a true Christian deny the words of Christ? That's far more than mere quibbling over esoteric points of theology.

Scott: I was hoping he was going to pick Lieberman

That strikes me as bizarre. You want a Republican candidate to choose a former Democrat VP nominee who scored 100% in 2007 with the abortionist lobby and 88% with the homosexual lobby, and who said, "The day I walk into the Oval Office, the first thing I'm going to do is rescind the Bush administration restrictions on embryonic stem cell research"? That hardly seems consistent with your earlier stated views.

Vahe: – I like your viewpoint – I think you are closer to Mr. Obama than you realize...

Scott: I hope so.


Becky, the "coalition" included well over 40 countries. That seems substantial to me, especially when that includes the UK, Japan and South Korea, Spain and Italy, etc.

hockeyboy5 said...


To quote something I read last week: "you say 'socialist' like it's a bad thing."

Definitely. The Bible preaches individual responsibility and defends the right to private property so being a consistent Christian and a consistent socialist is impossible.

As Churchhill said, socialism leads to totalitarianism. That's a bad thing.

I, for one, would rather my tax dollars be spent on education, health care and scientific research that will secure our children a better future than on war.

I think we'd all agree. Sadly, the history of the world has proven that sometimes war is required for our children to have any future at all. All the education and health care in the world wouldn't have stopped Hitler and won't stop bin Laden.

Lilijack (John?),

socialist (which would only work in a redeemed world)

If socialism exists in a world, that world is in need of being redeemed.

Becky said...


not to split hairs, but lillijackcam said "The world was in agreement that Iraq had WMD's."

I simply stated that the world was NOT in agreement. Only 3 of the other 7 G8 countries were in the coalition. Populationwise, neither China and India were in the coalition. Even 49 countries doesn't make up a majority of the countries in the world, so no - I don't think that the coalition was significant. Thus, it is erroneous to say that "the world was in agreement."

Child abuse falls under a completely different category than same sex marriage. Perhaps I'm out on my own here in this particular forum, but I just don't think that you can lump forcing a 13-year-old to get married and beating a 5-year-old in the same category as two people of the same sex wanting to be married.

hockeyboy5 said...

not to split hairs, but lillijackcam said "The world was in agreement that Iraq had WMD's."

You're right--that was a stretch.

I simply stated that the world was NOT in agreement.

You went farther than that, which is why I responded:

I believe that the "coalition of the willing" was actually a very small contingency of the "world".

I'm not sure what you meant by "contingency," but the coalition includes nations from every continent on the globe, with every major race, religion, and ethnicity in the world represented. Factor in a combined GDP of approximately $22 trillion, and I think we can agree that "very small" is overly dismissive.

Child abuse falls under a completely different category than same sex marriage.

Okay. I was discussing abortion, though, and legislating morality.

Perhaps I'm out on my own here in this particular forum, but I just don't think that you can lump forcing a 13-year-old to get married and beating a 5-year-old in the same category as two people of the same sex wanting to be married.

Unless you're choosing between categories like sin and non-sin. Of course, most homosexuals couldn't care less about simply being "married" or being tolerated. They want approval for their lifestyle, as Romans 1 discusses.

Becky said...


Okay - I'll give you that "very small" is dismissive, but I would venture to say that with less than 25% of the world's nations on board, that it was at "small".

And I was discussing "marriage" with Scott as part of his reasoning for deciding for whom to vote in the Presidential election, which is why I brought up possible "crimes against marriage."

I'm pretty sure that Obama's platform on marriage doesn't include legalizing polygamy and 13-year-olds being forced to get married. Yes those things are bad. But it's not a reason to vote against Obama.

If we're boiling everything down to sin v. non-sin, then why is an unjust war not just as equally terrible a sin? Again: Americans need to choose the lesser of the two evils.

hockeyboy5 said...

why is an unjust war not just as equally terrible a sin?

An unjust war is indeed sinful. The problem is determining when a war is just and when it is not. Many Iraqis would vote on each side of the current war, as would many Americans. A lot of horrible things have happened in Iraq, and a lot of wonderful things as well. It would appear that most wars are easier to categorize long after the fighting has ceased.

Abortion, on the other hand, is rather easier to categorize as murder in about 99% of the cases since they don't affect the mother's survival.

Everyone seems bent out of shape about Bristol Palin's pregnancy, but I'm glad Sarah Palin didn't take the "easy" way out and have her grandchild murdered to aid her own political aspirations.

Why are we Canadians the most active political commentators here?

obsessiveskier said...

lillijackcam: Thanks for the correction about Obama's career. He was in the Illinois State Senate when he made is now famous speech in opposition to the Iraq War, not in the U.S. Senate.

HockeyBoy5: I was hoping for Leiberman because pragmatically I thought that was the most strategic way for McCain to pick up independents and former Hillary supporters. I'd prefer that our president have more of a mandate than Bush did in 2000, and I think it's going to take some radical changes to make any difference in the red/blue divide in this country. Not that I support Leiberman's policies much at all. McCain must have decided that picking Leiberman would have caused a revolt in the Republican party, so he chose Palin to satisfy the evangelical base. But where else is the evangelical base going to go but to McCain, no matter who he picks for VP? Like they're going to vote for Obama? No way. And they are too politically savvy to try any third party stuff this late in the game. So, that's what I would have advised, if McCain had asked me, but he didn't. ;-)

Becky: I wish more Americans cared about these issues as much as you do. You're not alone in your positions and opinions, even at Christchurch. Keep asking people questions and I think you'll agree.

Everyone: See my new post today with my thoughts about McCain/Palin '08.

Becky said...


I'm cautious about responding to your comment about Bristol's pregnancy, because it seems that you are exercising hyperbole, but nevertheless, I feel compelled to say something given that we were already discussing teenagers being forced to get married.

I highly doubt, given Palin's incredibly strict, not-even-in-the-case-of-rape, prolife stance, that Palin would "aid her own political aspirations" if she had insisted that her teenage daughter have an abortion. No, quite the contrary. Her party is giving this little personal matter all the prolife spin they can muster.

It's just too bad they're encouraging the whole teen marriage thing, though.


"But where else is the evangelical base going to go but to McCain, no matter who he picks for VP? Like they're going to vote for Obama? No way."

I guess that officially eliminates me from "the evangelical base".

And I think I'm going to take a pass on getting involved in the discussion on your recent post.

obsessiveskier said...

Becky: When I used the phrase "the evangelical base" I was meaning to speak of those people who voted in the 2004 presidential and congressional elections that the Republican Party identified back then as "values voters". I'm pretty confident that there are many Christians who are not a part of this group.

hockeyboy5 said...


I'm cautious about responding to your comment about Bristol's pregnancy, because it seems that you are exercising hyperbole

Not really.

I highly doubt, given Palin's incredibly strict, not-even-in-the-case-of-rape, prolife stance

If abortion is murdering a baby, there's nothing "incredibly strict" about not supporting it in case of rape. If there should be a killing after a rape, it should be the rapist losing his life, not the baby.

As one mom said who gave birth to her baby after a rape, every time she sees her son, she's reminded that God brought forth something wonderful out of the most horrible experience of her life.

Palin would "aid her own political aspirations" if she had insisted that her teenage daughter have an abortion. No, quite the contrary. Her party is giving this little personal matter all the prolife spin they can muster.

Most of the press I've seen has been from the other side, thrilled at the scandal. My point was that a quiet abortion would have allowed Bristol to be on stage, waving like a perfect little teen and their family wouldn't have had to deal with it. It's worth noting that friends of Bristol's have said that she and Levi were planning to get married before the pregnancy, so it's not necessarily a "shotgun wedding." The only thing that would have thrilled some pro-abortionists more would have been for Bristol to have had an abortion and have that news come out.

Celucien L. Joseph said...

Thanks for the review.

Your assessment is very helpful; but I have to ask you your presuppositions here. Why was it necessary to give the book a spiritual outlook? I'm not sure the book was directly addressed to christians but to all americans-- christians, atheists, hindus, muslims, non-christians, etc. Morevoer, "The Audacity of Hope" is not a theological treatise and thus should not be read and evaluated in such manner.


obsessiveskier said...


Thanks for reading my review! I'm happy to answer questions about my presuppositions. I presuppose that there is a God, and that it is rational to make such a presupposition given the existence of the universe and moral law. Furthermore, my worldview is that God has revealed himself through the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ. So that makes me a pretty spiritual dude. That's why I read everything from a spiritual/theological perspective first, and then build the rest of my thinking on an issue from that most important foundation. Call me medieval, but I still believe that biblical theology is truly the queen of all the sciences.

hockeyboy5 said...

Any thoughts on the audacity of Barack's foreign policy felony? He violated the Logan Act by attempting to negotiate in Iraq. That's punishable by up to three years in prison.