Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Discussing Obama

So last night, as has been usual for the last month, some friends and us were discussing Obama. A couple interesting references emerged, and so I thought I'd pass them on. Some of the most interesting articles about Obama are actually interviews with him. It's much better to hear precisely what somebody thinks straight from their mouth as opposed to being rehashed by a journalist. Thus, here are a couple very interesting interviews that highlight some interesting statements by Obama.

First, just before the election, Rolling Stone interviewed the now president-elect. Some highlights include:

At your campaign stop this morning at a high school in Pennsylvania, you made what you called a "solemn vow to the young people of America" that you will make sure they can afford to go to college — "no ifs, ands or buts." How will you do that in a way that doesn't simply add to the crushing debt that students and their families already take on in the form of student loans?
We're going to give a $4,000 tuition credit to every student, every year, in exchange for a minimum of 100 hours of community service a year. That's above and beyond the additional scholarships we're offering for people who are willing to teach, nurses — there are certain categories and occupations where we have a shortage, so there will be targeted scholarships there.
If you're in the White House and could install any one play toy — bowling alley, water polo — what would it be?
Basketball court. If we can get an indoor basketball court, I'd be happy.

Yeah, just because the weather's kind of fickle in Washington.
In what way will people underestimate you as president?
[Long pause] Because I tend to be a pretty courteous person and I don't lose my temper, I think people underestimate my willingness to mix it up. I don't know if they'll continue to underestimate that after this campaign, but I think you'll still get columns saying, "He's too cool, he's too soft." [Laughs] That's OK, actually.

You like being underestimated in that way.
Yeah. No point in having them see you coming.

Second, a few years ago when Obama was running for Senate, he gave an interview on religion to Chicago Sun Times columnist Cathleen Falsani. Now, it's finally been republished in entirety. Some interesting lines:

What do you believe?

I am a Christian.

So, I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith.
So you got yourself born again?

Yeah, although I don't, I retain from my childhood and my experiences growing up a suspicion of dogma. And I'm not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I've got a monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others.

I'm a big believer in tolerance. 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.
The conversation stopper, when you say you're a Christian and leave it at that.

Where do you move forward with that?

This is something that I'm sure I'd have serious debates with my fellow Christians about. I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and prostelytize. There's the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven't embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they're going to hell.

You don't believe that?

I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.

I can't imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity.

That's just not part of my religious makeup.



Robby said...

College education has already become way overpriced as a result of the government subsidizing it. This would continue that trend. Saying that there is a shortage in teaching and nursing and for that reason scholarships should be targeted for those majors is laughable but par for the course in politics.

His comments about religion seem reasonable.

Leslie C. said...

As Jesus said "no one comes to the Father except through me."
Obama doesn't seem to belive that. Unfortunately that is what I expected him to say.

Kristian Aloma said...

I agree with Robby. I think it's great that the president-elect is focusing on education, I'm just not sure if the 4000 credit will really be the answer or not. And rewarding students to go into teaching and nursing, etc may not be the complete answer either. A big problem with some of these careers is not getting them in, it's getting them to stay. And considering the pay scale, I imagine it makes it difficult for teachers to decide to stay. Just look at the language - "those WILLING to go into teaching, nursing". These are professions people reluctantly decide to do but not necessarily want to do? That's another topic though.

In regards to religion, I think he's right. The president isn't in office to convert others in anyway. He's there to protect the interests of all of the American people - regardless of their religious or demographic make up. It's why I often also have issues with the rhetoric that "we must spread democracy throughout the world." No we mustn't. Our own government is an experiment - why on earth should we force others to use it. It may not be the best government.

Unlike Leslie, I think it's fortunate he said this. But I also don't necessarily believe her quote from Jesus either. But we all have our faith and arguing that would probably be futile.

Westy said...

In regards to religion...
Certainly the views he espouses likely fall within mainstream thinking amongst mainstream liberal protestant or unitarian/universalist churches today.

It's also worth noting, however, that those same views would likely place him and those others outside Christianity by most other adherents’ definition.

And only one group can be right.

Anonymous said...

He can believe whatever he wants, but that doesn't change what the Bible says. Jesus didn't say "I am a way and a truth and a life"...He said "I am THE way and THE truth and THE life."

It's a free country and Obama can invent whatever tenents of belief that he desires, but that doesn't make them right, Biblical, or Christian.

Robby said...

"The president isn't in office to convert others in anyway."

I think this is very important. The president has an extraordinary amount of power and influence and to use that for any reason beyond what's specifically laid out in the constitution would be very evil no matter how good your intentions may be.

Kristian Aloma said...

"And only one group can be right." I'm not sure why only one group has to be right. Or maybe I'm not clear on your meaning of it.

"It doesn't change what the bible says" True, but I suppose what the Bible says doesn't change much else either - except those who think the Bible is absolutely right. Obama inventing tenants of belief doesn't necessarily make them wrong does it?

Is there where we transition into a lengthy debate about religion and the ability to know whether the Bible or your belief system is more right than another or no belief system? I'm down with that, but I may be late to the game if you guys have already debated that before. :)

Westy said...

Is there where we transition into a lengthy debate about religion and the ability to know whether the Bible or your belief system is more right than another or no belief system?
I suppose so. And I'm not convinced blog commenting back and forth is the best forum for that. But I can pretty succinctly say what I think at least about a couple of these items. Of course, I could discuss about anything ad infinitum, so...

I'm not sure why only one group has to be right.
Well, since each is making pretty exclusive claims that necessarily contradict the other, really only one can actually be accurate.

Obama inventing tenants of belief doesn't necessarily make them wrong does it?
Exactly. No, it doesn't. But it doesn't mean they're right, and if they contradict someone else's claims, one of them is right and the other wrong.

And I think you fairly astutely note that it pretty much boils down to someone's belief as to the Bible's inerrancy. At least in terms of Christianity...