Monday, August 18, 2008

Senator Barack Obama wrote a book entitled, Audacity of Hope. In it, he reveals how he has come to understand truth, and that his political views are really an extension of his religious views. Without my comments, here are some excerpts from Audacity of Hope.
Speaking of his mother, he says In her mind, a working knowledge of the world’s great religions was a necessary part of any well-rounded education. (p. 203)

In our household, the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology. On Easter or Christmas day, my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and the ancient Hawaiian burial sites. But I was made to understand that such religious samplings required no sustained commitment on my part…Religion was an expression of human culture, she would explain, not its wellspring, just one of the many ways…(p. 204)

And yet for all her professed secularism, my mother was in many ways the most spiritually awakened person that I’ve ever known. She had an unswerving instinct for kindness, charity, and love, and spent much of her life acting on that instinct…Without the help of religious texts…she worked mightily to instill in me the values that many Americans learn in Sunday school; honesty empathy, discipline, delayed gratification, and hard work. She raged at poverty and injustice, and scorned those who were indifferent to both. (p. 205)
But it was my mother’s fundamental faith—in the goodness of people and the ultimate value of this brief life we’ve each been given—that channeled those ambitions. (p. 206)

Almost by definition, faith and reason operate in different domains and involved different paths to discerning truth. Reason—and science—involves the accumulation of knowledge based on realities that we can all apprehend. Religion, by contrast is based on truths that are not provable through ordinary human understanding—the ‘belief in things not seen.’ When science teachers insist on keeping creationism or intelligent design out of their classrooms, they are not asserting that scientific knowledge is superior to religious insight. They are simply insisting that each path to knowledge involves different rules and that those rules are not interchangeable. (p. 219)
I am not willing to have the state deny American citizens a civil union…nor am I willing to accept a reading of the Bible that considers an obscure line in Romans to be more defining of Christianity than the Sermon on the Mount. (p. 222)
When I read the Bible, I do so with the belief that it is not a static text but the Living Word and that I must be continually open to new revelations… (p. 224)

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