Book Review: The Faith of Barak Obama
by Stephen Mansfield
Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2008
Mansfield offers an understanding of the Religious Right vs. the Religious Left, a comparison of Hillary Clinton and former Presidents' personal religious influences, and the basis for Barack Obama's faith.
He contends that Obama has gone through a journey of self-discovery, which was complicated due to being biracial and the conflicting religious upbringing by his parents and grandmother. A man with intellectual curiosity and doubts, but “dedicated to discovering his (God's) truth.”
Looking for a “vessel” for his beliefs, praying to “take stock of himself,” and “battling a lifestyle of detachment,” Obama finds religious commitment and an affirmation of his African heritage through Reverend Wright's mentoring and church. Thus, Obama states that he is “unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian.”
At the end of the book, Mansfield discusses the healing of our nation saying that Obama can distance himself from our country's history that affects the previous generations. But Obama's words that Christianity is “but one religion tree” and that he cannot impose his religious views on another, cause me to question, as others have, whether this is the “required religious dance” of all politicians or not.
For Barack Obama, or anyone in leadership, the knowledge of other belief systems in order to function within the world's diversity, is commendable and wise. But Obama's search for a vessel for his beliefs vs being a willing vessel for God poses more questions for me. I wonder whether St. Augustine's words are still unfulfilled in the life of Barack Obama: “You (God) have formed us for Yourself, and our heart's are restless till they find their rest in You.”
The Faith of Barack Obama is a worthwhile read in that I am able to articulate my concerns better. However, I didn't find the answers I was seeking. Maybe, you will.