As a veteran communications professional, it comes as no surprise that Mansfield commands an easygoing conversational speaking style that helps buffer some of the potentially loaded issues he chooses to tackle. While he may be best identified by his ties to the conservative evangelical community, Mansfield possesses the ability to explore divergent ideologies while acknowledging some of his personal red flags with a tone of utmost respect. Listeners in search of a definitive, comprehensive Obama spiritual biography may not find the level of dramatic new revelations they were hoping for, but Mansfield succeeds in adding thoughtful theological and political context to events and experiences. Perhaps the most captivating section involves Mansfield's account of a Sunday visit to Trinity United Church of Christ, the congregation from which Senator Obama resigned his membership following publicity surrounding controversial statements by founding pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Mansfield presents an analysis of Obama's distinctly postmodern journey that will generate valuable discussion across the religious spectrum. A Thomas Nelson hardcover. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Faith of Barack Obamaby Stephen Mansfield
DISCOVER the NEW FACE of RELIGION in AMERICAN POLITICS
The 2008 presidential campaign has been among the most religiously charged of any in American history. At the heart of the "faith-based" controversies that have marked this season is the faith of Barack Obama. His religiously-informed political liberalism, his relationship/p>/b>/b>/b>/b>
DISCOVER the NEW FACE of RELIGION in AMERICAN POLITICS
The 2008 presidential campaign has been among the most religiously charged of any in American history. At the heart of the "faith-based" controversies that have marked this season is the faith of Barack Obama. His religiously-informed political liberalism, his relationship with the fiery Reverend Jeremiah Wright, his years of exposure to "Black liberation theology," and his more than two decades at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago have forced matters of faith and race onto the national stage.
Yet Obama's faith is of more than just political importance. He is helping to give voice to a religious left just now reclaiming its voice in American culture. He is also symbolizing and summoning a new generation who are deeply religious, philosophically postmodern, and passionately oriented to social justice. As important, he is issuing a call for a new era of racial harmony, a harmony he exemplifires as the son of a black African father and a white American mother.
In this fast-paced and insightful look at Obama's faith, best-selling author Stephen Mansfield approaches his subject "kindly and generously," in an attempt to understand who Obama is and how he will lead. Given that Obama is likely to be a feature on the American political landscape for decades to come, this book serves as an essential guide by a leading author to one of the most important stories in our time.
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The FAITH of Barack Obama
By Stephen Mansfield
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
Chapter One To Walk Between Worlds
Bobby Rush is an impressive man. Born in the Deep South town of Albany, Georgia, in 1946, he later moved with his family to Chicago, Illinois, and rose to become a United States congressman. Along the way, he served in the U.S. Army, earned a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees, became an ordained Baptist minister, and won such respect in his district on the South Side of Chicago that he is now in his eighth term in office.
He also has the courage of his convictions. He was a cofounder of the Black Panther Party in Illinois and spent years operating a medical clinic and a breakfast program for children. He was a pioneer in drawing attention to the agonies of sickle cell anemia in the black community. Not surprising given his track record, on July 15, 2004, Congressman Rush became only the second sitting U.S. congressman to be arrested-not for corruption or payola scams but for protesting human rights violations at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Truly, Bobby Rush is an impressive man. So, why, in 1999, did thirty-eight-year-old Barack Obama, who had served in the Illinois senate only three years, decide to challenge Bobby Rush for his congressional seat? It could not have been the numbers. Rush's name recognition was more than 90 percent, while Obama's was barely 11. It also could not have been any political differences. Everyone knew that the two men held nearly the same views. It was one of the reasons that Rush often expressed hurt over Obama's challenge.
Whatever moved Obama to run against Rush, it was not a pleasant experience for the younger man. From the outset, Rush's approval rating was more than 70 percent. Then, not long into the campaign, Rush's son, Huey Rich, was tragically shot on his way home from a grocery store. The young man hung between life and death for four days. Though it was distasteful at the time for anyone to mention a political benefit to the tragedy, the outpouring of sympathy did seem to galvanize support for Rush, particularly among undecided voters. Soon billboards arose in the district, proclaiming, "I'm sticking with Bobby."
It never got better for Obama. Even President Clinton entered the fray and supported Rush, breaking his own policy of not endorsing candidates in primaries. Rush won with twice the vote Obama received-approximately 60 percent to 30 percent-and Obama was forced to admit that "[I got] my rear end handed to me."
There had been hurt and bitterness-the bad blood that fierce political battles can leave between men. Years went by, though, and with distance came a mellowing. The same Rush who had once described Obama as a man "blinded by ambition" came, in time, to a different view. After Obama entered the U.S. Senate, Rush said, "I think that Obama-his election to the Senate-was divinely ordered. I'm a preacher and pastor. I know that was God's plan. Obama has certain qualities. I think he is being used for some purpose."
Rush is not alone in this. Increasingly, words such as called, chosen, and anointed are being used of Obama. Though these terms have long belonged to the native language of the Religious Right, they are now becoming the comfortable expressions of an awakened Religious Left, of a faith-based Progressive movement. Moreover, they are framing the image of Barack Obama in the minds of millions of Americans.
Perhaps this should be expected. Perhaps this is nothing more than a by-product of the uniquely American need to paint politics and politicians in messianic terms. Perhaps this is what comes, in part, from a people believing themselves a chosen nation.
Yet what is unique about the use of such terms as applied to Barack Obama is how foreign they are to the religious worldview of his early life. We must remember that if he ascends to the presidency in 2009, he will be the first American president to do so having not been raised in a Christian home. Instead, he spent his early years under the influence of atheism, folk Islam, and a humanist's understanding of the world that sees religion merely as a man-made thing, as a product of psychology. It is this departure from tradition in Obama's early years that makes both his political journey and his religious journey so unusual and of such symbolic meaning in American public life.
* * *
The story of the religious influences that have shaped Barack Obama is best begun with the novel faith of his grandmother, Madelyn Payne. She was born in 1922 to strict Methodist parents in the oil boom town of Augusta, Kansas. Though modern Methodists are known more for their eagerness to accommodate the sensitivities of secular society-removing offensive "gender bias" from their hymns, for example-the Midwest Methodists of the 1920s and 1930s exacted a higher price for righteousness. There was no drinking, card playing, or dancing in the Payne household. In church on Sundays, the family heard often of how small the army of the saved truly is compared to the vast numbers of those in the world who are going to hell. There were, too, the petty tyrannies that often attend religion in a flawed world: people shunned one another, lived lives at odds with the gospel they claimed to hold dear, and failed to distinguish themselves in any meaningful way from the world around them.
These hypocrisies were not lost on Madelyn Payne. She would tell her grandson often of the "sanctimonious preachers" she had known and of the respectable church ladies with absurd hats who whispered hurtful secrets and treated those they deemed beneath them with cruelty. What folly, she would recall with disgust, that a people would be taught to ignore all the geologic evidence and believe that the earth and the heavens had been created in seven days. What injustice, she would insist, that men who sat on church boards should utter "racial epithets" and cheat the men who worked for them. Barack regularly heard such bitter sentiments in his grandparents' home, sentiments that profoundly shaped his early religious worldview.
Madelyn was frequently described by neighbors as "different," a gentle word for her eccentricities, and few were likely surprised when she met, and then secretly married, Stanley Dunham, a furniture salesman from nearby El Dorado. If the marriage was not exactly the attraction of opposites, it was at least the blending of incongruities. He was notoriously loud, crashing, and gregarious; friends said he could "charm the legs off of a couch." She was bookish and sensitive. He was a Baptist from a blue-collar world. She was a Methodist whose parents were solidly middle class. Though in their generation these seemingly slight differences were enough to separate couples of less determination, Stanley and Madelyn fell in love and later married on the night of a junior/senior prom just weeks before her high school graduation in 1940. For reasons that remain unclear, her parents were not told of the union until her diploma was well in hand. They did not receive the news well, though this seemed to make little difference to the headstrong and increasingly rebellious Madelyn.
With the onset of World War II, Stanley enlisted in the army and ended up slogging through Europe with General George Patton's tank corps without ever seeing real combat. Madelyn worked as a riveter at the Boeing Company's B-29 plant in Wichita. In late November 1942, their daughter, Ann Dunham, was born.
Stanley Dunham has been described as a kind of Willy Loman, the tragic, broken character in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. There are similarities. Returning from war and grasping the promise of the GI Bill, Stanley moved his young family to California, where he enrolled at the University of California-Berkeley. Obama would later recount kindly of his grandfather that "the classroom couldn't contain his ambitions, his restlessness, and so the family moved on." It was the pattern of a lifetime. There was first a return to Kansas and then years of one small Texas town after another, one dusty furniture store leading to the promise of bigger rewards at still another store farther up the road.
Finally, in 1955, just as Ann finished the seventh grade, the family moved to Seattle, where Stanley acquired a job as a salesman for Standard-Grunbaum Furniture, a recognized feature of the downtown area at the corner of Second and Pine. For most of their five years in Seattle, the family lived on Mercer Island, "a South America-shaped stretch of Douglas firs and cedars," which lay across from the city in Lake Washington. While Stanley sold living room suites and Madelyn worked for a bank, young Ann began drinking from the troubled currents of the counterculture just then beginning to sweep through American society.
The high school that Ann attended was far from the stereotypical 1950s image. In the very year that she began classes at Mercer High, John Stenhouse, chairman of the school's board, admitted before the House Un-American Activities Subcommittee that he was a member of the Communist Party. Already at Mercer, there were recurring parental firestorms over the curriculum, long before such conflicts became commonplace throughout the nation. Most complaints centered on the ideas of Val Foubert and Jim Wichterman, two instructors who were perceived as so radical for the time that students called the passageway between their classrooms "Anarchy Hall." Together the two men had determined, without apology, to incite their students to both question and challenge all authority.
Foubert, who taught English, assigned books such as Atlas Shrugged, The Organization Man, The Hidden Persuaders, 1984, and the most strident of H. L. Mencken's cultural commentaries-none of which are extreme by today's standard but which were certainly out of the mainstream in 1950s America. Wichterman, who taught philosophy, assigned Sartre, Kierkegaard, and Karl Marx's The Communist Manifesto, and did not hesitate to question the existence of God. Parental upheavals ensued, which Foubert and Wichterman dubbed "Mother Marches." "The kids started questioning things that their folks thought shouldn't be questioned-religion, politics, parental authority," John Hunt, a student at the time, remembered, "and a lot of parents didn't like that and tried to get them [Wichterman and Foubert] fired."
None of this upheaval was of much concern to Stanley and Madelyn Dunham, though. Having long before shed the quaint faith and suffocating values of rural Kansas, Ann's parents were comfortable with the innovations in the Mercer High School curriculum. They had even begun attending East Shore Unitarian Church in nearby Bellevue-often referred to in Seattle as "the little Red church on the hill"-for its liberal theology and politics. Barack would later describe this as the family's "only skirmish into organized religion" and explain that Stanley "liked the idea that Unitarians drew on the scriptures of all the great religions," excitedly proclaiming, "It's like you get five religions in one!" "For Christ's sake," Madelyn would shoot back, according to Barack, "It's not supposed to be like buying breakfast cereal!"
Though what has come to be known as the Unitarian Affirmation of Faith is, in fact, an overly simplistic reworking of the ideas of James Freeman Clarke, it does serve to hint at what the Dunhams accepted as true: "the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, the leadership of Jesus, salvation by character, and the progress of mankind onward and upward forever." That Stanley and Madelyn believed in a God of some description is confirmed by Barack. However, they were likely skeptics-Barack says that Madelyn espoused a "flinty rationalism"-regarding the divinity of Jesus, whom they would have accepted as one good moral teacher among many but certainly not a god. That man is perfectible, that men ought to live as brothers, and that society would climb ever upward if they did are all truths that were agreed upon in the Dunham home, though Ann would in time accept these possibilities only on the most secular terms.
In truth, Ann Dunham was already on a journey beyond the freethinking of her parents, beyond her friends at Mercer High School, and yet in keeping with the philosophical trends of her times. She had absorbed the broad spirituality and social vision of the East Shore Unitarian Church. She had also been paying attention in the classrooms of Foubert and Wichterman. Having begun with her parents' religious skepticism, Ann went even further and declared herself an atheist.
During after-school gab sessions in the coffee shops of Seattle, her friends began to realize how fully Ann had thought through her beliefs. "She touted herself as an atheist, and it was something she'd read about and could argue," remembers Maxine Box, who was Dunham's best friend in high school. "She was always challenging and arguing and comparing. She was already thinking about things that the rest of us hadn't." Another classmate, Jill Burton-Dascher, recalls that Ann "was intellectually way more mature than we were and a little bit ahead of her time, in an off-center way." "If you were concerned about something going wrong in the world," Chip Wall, a friend, explains, "[Ann] would know about it first." She was, he says, "a fellow traveler.... We were liberals before we knew what liberals were."
As the decade of the 1960s dawned and Ann approached the end of her high school career, friends expected she might chart a bold course: college at a European university perhaps, or studies back east among the nation's Ivy League. They soon heard that Stanley had found a new job-yet another furniture store with yet bolder promises of success-this time in Hawaii. Though some remember that Ann did not want to go, it was not long before letters began arriving from Honolulu, describing how she had enrolled in the University of Hawaii for the fall term of 1960.
Only the year before, Hawaii had achieved statehood. This was likely part of the attraction for Stanley. His adventurous, ever-unsatisfied soul yearned for what appeared to be a new frontier. A fresh start in a new state, far from the American mainland, seemed ideal. He was entering his forties-the onset of midlife crisis for most men-his only daughter had just finished high school, and the darkness of the 1960s had yet to descend. Life was full of promise, though for Stanley this would mean going where that promise lived: a new place, a new role, a new crowd to charm.
He could not have known that it would be the last move of his life or that he would eventually pass his days in a small Honolulu apartment, if not embittered then at least disillusioned by his few achievements. He could not have known that in the meantime, his wife would rise to become the first female vice president of the Bank of Hawaii and would do so without a college degree, an astonishing achievement for a woman in that era. And he could not have known that his life would be both graced and anguished by the comings and goings of his daughter and the little biracial boy she would bring into the world.
* * *
Ann Dunham met Barack Obama Sr. while she was a freshman and he a graduate student at the University of Hawaii. He must have appeared exotic to her, with his rich, full voice; his Kenyan accent; his chiseled features; and his studied worldliness. He had come to Hawaii on the wings of extreme good fortune: his government had sent him abroad to study on a scholarship created for the rising leaders of Jomo Kenyatta's Kenya. Though he now spent weekends with Ann, listening to jazz, drinking beer, and debating politics and world affairs with their friends, he had only a few years before lived a Kenyan village life, herding goats and submitting to the rituals of a village witch doctor. Now, in the West, he had rejected the Muslim faith of his youth just as he rejected the babblings of all witch doctors. Religion is superstition, he insisted. It falls to man to fashion his own fate and the fate of his nation. This was what he intended to do when he finished school and returned to Kenya.
Things moved quickly for Ann and her new love. Sometime late in the fall of 1960, she conceived a child. Several months into 1961, she and Barack married, and six months later, friends in Seattle were receiving letters announcing the birth of their son, Barack Hussein Obama, born August 4, 1961.
What followed immediately after is now well-known. Barack Obama Sr. continued to live in Hawaii only a short time after the birth of the son who bore his name. An opportunity to earn his doctorate at Harvard proved too enticing, and he left, to return only once more before his death in 1982 of alcohol, bitterness, and a car crash. The pictures of young Barack make it hard to imagine any father walking away from such a child. In time, Ann and Barack would learn that Barack Sr. had been married in a Kenyan village ceremony long before he met Ann and already had other children. She would file for divorce in 1964.
Excerpted from The FAITH of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield Copyright © 2008 by Stephen Mansfield. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Stephen Mansfield is the New York Times best-selling author of Lincoln's Battle with God, The Faith of Barack Obama, and Benedict XVI, Searching for God and Guinness, and Never Give In: The Extraordinary Character of Winston Churchill. Stephen lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Beverly
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I love to read and I enjoy blogging. So when I ran across Thomas Nelson: Book Reveiw Bloggers I quickly signed up and requested my first book, The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield. As I read the introduction I was quickly intrigued by this gentleman that is now our President-Elect. I quickly learned that he is a man that grew up in an environment that many of us will never experience. His mother was an atheist, his step-father Muslim, he attended Catholic school and at the age of 24, upon attending a worship service at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, found God¿s spirit calling him. It was at this worship service that he dedicated his life to finding the truth in God.
This book gave me insight into this man and his faith. I see his exposure to Islam, atheism, Catholicism, Protestantism as a well rounded insight into just a few of the many faiths that make up this country. We are a country, not of one faith but of many, not only of just beautiful and huge mega-church buildings, but of a faith that comes from living on the street and in the rough and tumble neighborhoods of our cities. It¿s because his well-roundedness that I see Barack Obama as being able to relate to every type of person that God has put on this earth. This book allowed me to see him as a person that may be able to reach out to all people and unite us as a country not only politically but as a country of faithful and believing people. Through him I see hope for our younger generation that may have a very strong belief in God and want to make a difference in the world, but have turned away from the organized church but ¿do faith like jazz¿.
This book takes the reader inside the church where Barack Obama¿s spiritual journey began and gives the you an insight into the congregation of an African-American church and ¿black theology¿. It also gives the reader glimpses of the spiritual journey¿s of Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, and John McCain, which I found to be very interesting.
I¿m excited that I had a chance to read this book as it truly has given me more insight into this man that is to soon become the leader of our wonderful country! If I had read it before the election it would have cemented my decision even more, but reading it now after the election it has given me the assurance that there may be hope out there for our country and this changing world. If you haven¿t had a chance to read it I would highly recommend that you pick it up.
Interesting that this author claims to have an 'unbias' opinion of Obama and his faith, yet seems to believe that the outrageous anti-American attitude from his former church was in some way understandable. If that were truly the case, Senator Obama wouldn't have denounced it publicly and left the church behind - throwing away 20 years of association. Let's take off our 'politically correct' shaded glasses and call out EVERY form of racism for what it is - unacceptable and misguided.
During the time leading up to the 2008 election I have to confess that I did not make much effort to learn about Barack Obama. I was actually turned off by the hype and everyone's willingness to elevate him without knowing much about his character. However, now that he is our president, I felt that it would be irresponsible of me to not know anything about our new president. The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield is an excellent read. As an author, who obviously has a political leaning like every other American, does a good job of presenting Barack in a neutral light.
Barack Obama had a very interesting variety of influences as a child and was interesting to see how media had taken bits and pieces of his life and elevated them in various ways. Beyond giving a look into Obama, Mansfield gives an overview of how religion has shaped politics in the past, how the religous-right has suffered over the past years and how the culture is changing. For me this book provided a look at different perspectives that I have never considered when it comes to the religious left and that there can be faith on the "other side of the line".
If you go into this book looking for an answer to the question, "Is Barack Obama really a Christian?" I expect you will be surprised and disappointed. You will be surprised by what you find but should be disappointed because the only one who truly knows that answer is God. All we can do is trust what he says is true, pray for him as our leader and president and as a fellow believer on the faith journey as we all are.
I think reading The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield after the 2008 election is over has allowed me to better absorb the wealth of understanding this book provides. Mansfield, who has also written of Churchill, Booker T. Washington, George W. Bush, et. al. has a gift for honing in on, and creating a well-documented text that speaks directly to and clearly presents the defining points of the person about whom he has written.
It is not the first time Mansfield has written about the faith of men. It perhaps, though, is the first time that his book is published immediately before the election of that man as president elect. Obviously, the biography may well become a must-read for all Americans, as we look toward the time of change that Obama has promised. I believe the book covers essentially all of the issues that drove this year¿s election and helps lay a foundation that will guide our understanding of the future.
One of the major highlights of the book was a comprehensive, comparative analysis of the ¿Four Faces of Faith¿ for those individuals who were the primary participants in the 2008 election: George W. Bush as the individual who was leaving the office and then Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain as the leading candidates. Each of these individuals has openly discussed their faith during the election. Reading the comparison however, clearly focuses on how the candidates¿ profession of faith may have been perceived by citizens.
Mansfield begins his book, naturally, with a look at Obama¿s early life. Considering the diversity of influences from his major role models¿his parents, grandparents, and his stepfather¾it is somewhat amazing that he was able to intellectually work through the breadth of his experience and arrive at a point where he chose to follow Christ. Then, as various political campaigns were undertaken, Obama was constantly attacked from a faith standpoint; however, being under fire, actually worked to forge his beliefs into both rhetoric as well as actions that in turn fired his growing numbers of followers.
¿We worship an awesome God in the Blue States,¿ declared Obama at the 2004 Democratic Party Convention speech. Quite willing to claim that democrats were Christians too, Obama has in essence ¿founded¿ a Religious Left that has met the needs of the millions who soundly rejected that only the Religious Right were true Christians. ¿We, too, have faith...Those of us who believe in a woman¿s right to choose an abortion, who defend the rights of gays and who care for the poor... It was a conscious attempt to reclaim the voice of the American political Left.¿
Mansfield clarifies issues regarding Obama¿s early teachings in Islam, and his relationship with Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., as well as a discussion of the black church experience, which historically has provided a method for hearing the news, dealing with issues and planning for the good of the community. His inclusion of a perhaps little-known issue, of the ¿Tuskegee Syphilis Study,¿ lends credibility to his discussion and forces us to better understand the fear and anger of a large part of our population!
Needless to say, I highly recommend The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield!
I had heard a lot of hype about Barack Obama; Fears about him, often unfounded, that distilled down to prejudices based on the actions of leaders at his church, or even how his last name "Obama" sounded like "Osama", the first name of the infamous terrorist leader. When I was given the opportunity through Thomas Nelson Publishers to read and review "The Faith of Barack Obama", I quickly responded. I read this to get factual information, not the mud-slinging that seems inevitable during political campaigns. I did not want to vote for or against a man based on hearsay, rumor, innuendo, or the aforementioned prejudicial fears.
I was delighted to read in the introduction that the author, Stephen Mansfield, unapologetically gave this as the purpose for writing the book. He also stated that he was not voting for Barack Obama. This might imply that the book would be skewed against the presidential candidate, but I did not find it so. In many ways, it portrays Barack Obama as a strong man of character, raised in difficult circumstances and dealing with the same issues we all do, and many unique to him. One man can only truly understand another man at the most superficial of levels, but I feel that the book did an excellent job of conveying a great depth and breadth of understanding of Mr. Obama. It shows him in fairly intimate situations, compelling sympathy and feeling for the man. In reading it, I found myself wondering how or if I would have acted differently. I began to find a new respect for Barack Obama for his strength.
To take me beyond the hype to a feeling of intimacy with -and respect for- someone I am unlikely to ever meet, that is a powerful ability. This is a powerful book, written by a masterful author. Read it, even after the elections. Win or lose, Barack Obama will be someone you will want to understand the motivations of.
The Democratic National Convention started today in Denver, Colorado, and it is no doubt that the nominee of the party for President will be Senator Barack Obama. With that nomination, and even before, come the questions of who is this man, what does he believe in, and where does he stand? As our nation has struggled through the recent hardships of 9-1-1, the Iraq war, and turmoils in our local communities, we are increasingly looking beyond the superficial appearances of our politicians to their core beliefs and values. We are, as a nation, more and more interested in what drives out leaders and makes them tick. The Faith Of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield seeks to help the reader find some of those answers. The book does not make a judgement call on who Americans should elect as their next president. Instead the author, by explaining Obama¿s upbringing and influences, strives to show what it is that forms Obama¿s beliefs and how that drives his thought process. The book also pulls no punches. On complicated issues such as abortion and the various laws legislating around the issue, Mansfield clearly points out where Obama has logical struggles and at times has mis-stepped his ideals. But again, the strength of this work is that it offers up the facts on those issues and lets the reader form their own opinion. The Faith Of Barack ObamaIn addition to detailing the influences that have gone into the Barack Obama¿s faith, Mansfield also gives attention to three of the other main characters in this election - Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and George W. Bush. Not does this help to give a foot in the door on exploring those dynamic individuals, but it also helps to compare and contrast the cast of players. It is made clear that there are more than years of difference in this election, there are also differences of education, social influence, and how their faith was obtained. Revelation versus inheritance versus personal exploration are depicted as paths that help to form the destination. This book is timely not only in terms of the election and the conventions, but also in terms of where we are currently in US politics. We are seeing, across the board, Republican or Democrat, a renewed interest in values and what goes into a person to form those values. Those values, that faith, is important to the American people and to the world. How our President puts his personal values into action in the world is important to determining how we interact with the world and where this country will be in years to come. Well written, timely, and well researched, this should be considered a must read for anyone on either side of the election interested in learning more about the candidates.
A great book for everyone of faith to read. It paints a true picture of Obama's faith
Author glosses over the extreme views of Obama's church. He paints Jeremiah Wright as a bold liberator of the oppressed, that just tended to over-speak. Tries to claim he was the most respected black preacher in the country. Then goes on to say that 'A mind as fine as Obama's' was less likely to accept the ideas of the church than the typical member. The comments in the synopsis about this 'understandable' spirit of anger from the church are troubling...how is extremism like that understandable? It isn't. And this book is supposed to be unbias? The thing I found very hypocritical was the description of Obama not being inspired by the faith of Hillary. The author resorts to calling her names, and paints Obama as wanting to 'fix' her generation. I'm no fan of Hillary, but such an argument is rather ironic considering how Obama has intentionally brought race into this campaign by playing the victim and flip-flopping on a number of key issues to keep his poll numbers up. There's nothing wrong with a book about the faith and history of a Presidential candidate, but don't boldly claim something to be unbias when it's clearly not.
He is a muslim and he is consorting with terrorists. Obama sucks he stands for One Big Ass Mistake America
Obama doesnt have faith.... in anyone other than himself. All he has is lust for power-and it shows
This is a must read. Being a Rev. in 2000 I saw a shift in thinking that was polarizing and I have prayed against the belief that has broken the church into right and left halves. My hope was that both sides would see they are attached to each other. Obama was a God send so was Elizabeth Warren and others. We will regain our balance as a nation soon.
I know God loves him
I really enjoyed reading this book. I'm tired of all the bashing and half truths and confusion. Mr. Mansfield, I thought, used a reasoned, fact-filled approach that answers the questions being raised about Muslim versus Christian faith and other areas of controversy. He tackles the issues head-on, not apologizing for President Obama's weaknesses but also not condemning him. Also well written in that the book reads easily.
Why is it that anyone who dares talk about the injustices perpetrated by America is labled as anti-american? Perhaps your next book should be a history book if that is how you feel. 'Dissent is the highest form of patriotism'--Thomas Jefferson
How can someone rate this book a 1 without even reading it? Why not read it and see if the 'anger towards white America' comes off as understandable or if the argument is weak. Also, see the part of the synopsis that states that that particular issue is just a small part of the overall make-up of Obama's faith? Why not see what the book has to offer before rating it?
With the election over, I figure this is the best time if any to review The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield. I think any time an author sets out to write a book about faith and politics it is important to at least know something about the author. It seems as if Stephen Mansfied is writing as more of a journalist point of view, rather then pushing for an agenda in our view of Barack Obama and his faith. As a matter of fact Mansfield has penned a similar book in The Faith of George W Bush.
Avoiding going into his whole biography, I would rather refer you to here for his bio. I think you will find that he seems to not having an agenda in any direction with his writings, but rather he seems to have a high interest in religion and its role in politics.
Now as far as this book is concerned, I feel that people will read this book for a couple reasons. Some of the reasons might include:
1) An attempt to "prove" the legitimacy of Barack Obama's faith.
2) To find reasons to be "concerned" about Barack Obama's faith.
I feel that if one comes from one of these positions, both individuals will leave satisfied, and at the same time, not learning much more then what was previously acknowledged. Right off the bat, one will pick up this book and realize it is fairly short. It comes in at about 190 pages with large font, allowing for a fairly quick read. One also may wonder with grand topics as faith and politics, if this 192 pages can sum up in completion the task at hand. But I think a more important question may be if ANYONE can sum up someones' faith and political aspirations with any length of book. I think that it may be difficult, and in all honestly, I do not think that is what Mansfield is trying to do. It does seem however, that Mansfield sets out to introduce you to the man Barack Obama, and to sum up his public life in politics and religion as well. If you are looking for an in depth look at the personal relationship of Barack Obama with any God, disappointment will sure to follow. I believe that Mansfield's web site best sums up the goal of this book best;
"...intended as an objective look at Obama¿s religious life and the controversies that have surrounded it. Stephen believes that just as the archetypical American story of faith five years ago belonged to George W. Bush, now it is Obama¿s religious journey that captures many of the religious trends shaping American culture."
With that lens going in, I believe the book to be very informative, and not pushy. I very much found the content in be interesting enough to spark a curiosity to see how Barack Obama's faith will shape his politics. Mansfield divides the book up into 6 different sections:
1. To Walk Between Two Worlds:
2. My House Too
3. Faith Fit For the Age
4. The Alters of the State
5. Four Faces of Faith
6. A Time to Heal
All in all, I certainly found this book to be informing about the faith of Barack Obama. The length of the book was somewhat disappointing, and some of the points left me asking more questions. However, I feel that this book is a nice introduction in discussions of the faith of Barack Obama, who is controversial with both the left and the right. The left finds Obama too open with his faith, and the right finds him too vague on what he believes. I think both sides should start here with learning who Barack Obama is and how is his faith going to dictate his policies.
I know all I need to know about this community organizer and all the lies he told. How is that hope and change working for us?