Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday Coffee Stops


The Atlantic Online: Presidents and Heretics, Ross Douthat

obama-cross If you're following the interesting debate over whether Barack Obama is a Christian, one thing to keep in mind is the extent to which heresy of various sorts pervades American Christianity at this point - and, moreover, the extent to which it cuts across confessional, cultural, and political lines. The Obama interview that provided the grist for this conversation does indeed suggest, as Larison puts it, that our President subscribes to some sort of semi-Arian conception of the nature of Christ, which isn't surprising at all given that he entered Christianity through the liberal-Protestant gate.

Now it's true that if he had been asked about Christ's nature, Bush - or Ronald Reagan, to take another conservative President with an idiosyncratic religious sensibility - might have given a more Nicaean answer than Obama did in the interview in question. But then again maybe not! (And God only knows what John McCain, the most pagan Presidential contender we've had in some time, might have said.) Given the muddled way in which most Americans approach religion, and the pervasiveness of heterodoxy, I suppose I'm basically with Alan Jacobs: I think that figuring out exactly what sort of things Obama believes about God and Christ and everything else, and how those beliefs may affect his Presidency, is ultimately a more profitable pursuit than arguing about whether he should be allowed to call himself a Christian. Or put another way: I expect my Presidents to be heretics, but I think it matters a great deal what kind of heretics they are.

Thanksgiving Economy  - Nick Anderson



Newsweek: Land Of Contradictions, Mark Gellman

I hope the election of Barack Obama allows us to look behind the ugly masks of identity politics to the real American interests that bind us. I hope his election will enable us to truly hear the arguments we offer to the great moral issues of our time and let go of the insulting degradation of those arguments as doctrines of another faith or another people.

When the slaves left Egypt, the Bible (Exodus 12: 37-38) calls them in Hebrew, an "erev rav" which means a mixed multitude. Barack Obama and Marcelo Lucero are both a part of the mixed multitude that is America. My deepest hope and prayer is that we can find each other and hear each other as equal participants in our great but uncompleted exodus to a land of freedom that I believe is this land.

A legend from my teachers, the rabbis: why did God only make one person, Adam, at first? The reason is to teach us that in the time to come no one should be able to say, "My ancestor was greater than your ancestor."

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