14 November 2008

"I think that religion at its best comes with a big dose of doubt."

Over on BeliefNet, Steve Walden has the transcript of a fantastic 2004 interview Barack Obama gave to Chicago Sun Times columnist Cathleen Falsani, in which the future president discusses his faith in detail. As in other discussions of religion, the overwhelming impression is that Obama's beliefs are heavily filtered through introspection and reflection on the consequence of particular doctrines. He believes that different religious perspectives can find common ground in shared values that transcend doctrine:
So, I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there's an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.
He responds to questions thoroughly, and with flashes of humor, cracking wise about "harps and clouds" when asked about heaven, for instance. And, over and over again, Obama turns away from certainty in favor of a more tenuous, dynamic, active faith:
I think that religion at it's best comes with a big dose of doubt. I'm suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding.

I think that ... there's an enormous amount of damage done around the world in the name of religion and certainty.
This is miles away from the faith of our current President, which is blinkered in the literal sense of wearing blinders - unable and unwilling to reflect on the meaning of positions taken, the kind of faith has no real response to reason or doubt. Barack Obama's faith is a living faith, and it means that he'll be a more truly Christian President than George W. Bush could ever be.

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