Musing about President Obama….

Tonight, January 19, 2009, is the end of Martin Luther King Jr. day. 

Dr. King was a man whose vision and passion transformed the racial dialogue and landscape of this country.  I am encouraged to note that the foundation of his mission and teaching is on biblical scripture.  Because of this he is an inspiration to me and to many others.  However, at the time of his life he (and his work) was rejected and even spurned by most of the white evangelical Christian church. 

Yes, it was partly because of his moral failings some Christians found cause to separate themselves from his mission.  But truth be known most white Christians followed white society in rejecting his message long before his moral struggles were revealed.   Many whites rejected Rev. Dr. King just because he, and the movement he represented, were about to bring a dramatic shift to the way white Americans viewed themselves and their society. 

Tomorrow, January 20, 2009,  is inauguration of Barack Obama, the first African American president of the United States of America.  He has inspired many, and myself included, by his clear call fur unity and hope for our future.  Even politicians such as Newt Gingrich have noted his clear and sincere efforts to reconcile divisions and unite our country around core issues.  As Candidate Obama, he frustrated both African-American and European American leaders when he talked about issues many wanted to sweep under the rug.  

While he was elected with strong support from the white community, much of the evangelical church rejected him.   There were the lies circulated that he was a Muslim, there were rumors that he was not a real citizen, there are insinuations that he may be the anti-christ.  I wonder, will the evangelical community always be 30 years behind society in realizing the power of important social movements?  Will the church today continue to reject Obama as they rejected Rev. King? 

I know he is not a savior.  I know he is human and therefore will do wrong and disappoint us all.  However I cannot get past these simple historic facts:

President Obama, a man of African decent, with a wife who is the descendant of American slaves – will take the oath of office (using President Lincoln’s bible) on steps and a building largely built by African slaves in America.

President Obama is the first president of the most powerful and divers county in the world whose name is NOT of European roots.

President Obama has and will inspire children and adults in my neighborhood, across our county, and around the world – to know and believe that they truly CAN become ANYTHING.  Seeing President Obama will be a reminder that, while racism is real, they are not limited in all ways just because of the color of their skin.  

I have seen the power this man has to inspire a lost generation to hope again. 

My prayer is that we can celebrate without false worship, and that as the church we can learn to worship in a way that does not spurn our brothers and sisters in our Lord.

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15 thoughts on “Musing about President Obama….”

  1. As long as their is sin in the world, there will be seperation and a lack of unity. That does not mean we shouldn’t speak out against issues of racism. But lack of trust, division, isolation, comparison, and rejecting and mistreating each other go back to the fall of man. I don’t know why people are surprised that people rejected Dr. King as people will reject President Obama. People will agree or disagree with this comment. That’s the reality of this world we live in.

  2. Hmmmm…I’m not so sure about your claim Marque that many white evangelicals rejected President Obama because (just like Dr. King) the movement he represents is about to bring a dramatic shift to the way white Americans view themselves and their society.

    I would guess that if you went back to the last 4 elections, most of the white evangelicals that voted for Senator McCain also voted for Bush I over Clinton, Dole over Clinton, Bush II over Gore and Bush II over Kerry. Did many of those white evangelicals all of the sudden not vote for President Obama this past year because they were afraid of his skin color and how he was going to change our society? Or were they simply rejecting his platform and promised policies just like they’ve done the past 4 elections with any other the Democratic candidate?

    Quite frankly, in my own experience (which means next to nothing when it comes to hard data) I know a lot more white evangelical Christians that switched allegiance from the Republican Party this past election and voted for President Obama than in any other election I’ve been a part of. That doesn’t mean racism is dead, but it also doesn’t mean that most white evangelical votes cast for McCain was a vote for bigotry and prejudice.

  3. Mitch – thanks for sharing your thoughts – you may have misunderstood the point I was trying to make – I was not talking about how and why people voted, I realize most voted for long held political convictions that had little to do with the candidates themselves – what I was talking about is:

    1. all the false character assignation attempts he had to endure (most of which were related to his race and ethnicity) and many of them cam from supposed (Christian) sources -i.e. – emails and even Gov. Palin

    2. the inability of many white evangelicals to even give a nod of acknowledgment – to the historicity and importance of this event for African-Americans and other minorities.

    I hope and would ask nothing less than for people to vote their values and convictions – but as noted even Newt G. says Barack is going beyond his expectations –

    I just desire for Christians to truly trust God as our real leader – and still be able to celebrate with others in a significant event.

  4. Marque,
    I’m gonna have to give up this blogging thing…it seems that whenever I take words at face value, I can never quite interpret what people are actually trying to say. In light of this character flaw, what exactly do you mean when you say, “will the (white) church today continue to reject Obama as they rejected Rev. King?” Certainly this has to do with more than just character assassination because no one’s character, intelligence, integrity and even family has been more maligned and assassinated than President Bush over the past 8 years. I’ve heard the venomous attacks day in and day out from the national media to people sitting in the pews and pastors standing at the pulpit.

    Let’s face it; character assassination is not something new that was solely reserved for President Obama…unfortunately that is how politics work in America now. It’s not enough to disagree with someone’s policies and platforms, now people have to be destroyed. I do not believe it has as much to do with racism as in the case of President Obama or with sexism as in the case of Sarah Palin, but it has to do with the lust for power. One side is doing whatever it takes to stay in power and the other side is doing whatever it takes to get in power. In politics the end always justifies the means…no matter what or who is destroyed.

    I can’t speak for everyone on your second point, but I can say that our church (New Hope Church) didn’t ignore or downplay the historical significance of President Obama being elected and inaugurated this past week. Our pastor talked for quite a while on the importance of this event in the life of our county, he began with some inspiring words from MLK, then talked about how critical it was for we as the body of Christ to pray for our President (no matter if you voted for him or not) and then he had an absolutely powerful time of prayer to usher in the new leadership of President Obama and bless President Bush as he left office. As one who did not support President Obama, it was very inspiring and challenging for me as a follower of Christ.

  5. that is really good to hear about your church – I don’t think we disagree all that much –

    I’m glad to hear you are @ New Hope – I hear a lot of good things about there

    I’m just talking about what I’ve seen and experienced – which is not all that much – maybe the answer to my question is NO –

    Hopefully Christians will NOT reject Obama in the same biased way King was rejected

  6. Marque,

    thanks for your thoughts about King and Obama. At chapel on Wednesday we talked about the working of God that we are now a people who can have an African-American president. We have a long way to go, but we have come along ways.

    I personally believe that as an American Christian if i am really going to understand what it means to follow Jesus I must understand King because he is such a powerful figure. He is the greatest American Theologian, we have to sit with his work.

  7. The primary reason I as a “white evangelical” didn’t vote for Obama was his radical commitment to abortion. In March he said the if his own daughter got pregnant he’d “prefer his daughter have an abortion rather than being punished by a pregnancy…”. Plain and simple, it’s a civil rights issue! It is “thou shalt not kill”… There are other issues such as redistribution of wealth which is the sin of covet, and the Democratic party which foments the sin of envy to gain power, votes, and exploit people of color.

    I am frankly sick and tired of people desecrating the grave of Dr. King! Every damned Marxist cause in this country uses Dr, King as a “posthumous spokesmodel” by claiming “Dr. King would have supported this”, or “Dr. King would have said that”… He SPOKE FOR HIMSELF! He gave endless speeches, THERE IS NO LACK OF MATERIAL, and I doubt that most people exploiting people of color with race identity politics have listened to half as much of Dr. Kings words as I have… I dare you to actually listen to him.

  8. here is a quote from King (April 4, 1967) in New York City – (Beyond Vietnam) – Interesting he doesn’t seem to concerned about being associated with communist – …and Paul, what/who are you referring to as “damned marxists”?

    “…….Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read “Vietnam.” It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that “America will be” are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

    As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964. And I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances.

    But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men—for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved His enemies so fully that He died for them? What then can I say to the Vietcong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

    Finally, as I try to explain for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place, I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood. Because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for His suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them. This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.”…….

    for the whole speech http://www.mlkonline.net/vietnam.html

    I agree – I have concern with his statements on abortion – but in the scale of ALL “LIFE” issues I believe he will be more “pro-life” than the past president

  9. Marque; I’m referring to the many, many people who either on MLK Day, or during Black History Month say that “If he were alive today, he’d tell you that…”, I just find that disrespectful to him.

    At the central vital core of Marxism s the idea that a society must redistribute wealth and make a society more equal that way. This describes the entire left wing of our political process.

    With all of MLK’s brilliance and powerful speech, he was just dead wrong about Viet Nam. Yes, America did some awful things, and the unintentional civilian deaths were near 1 million, but because we left, 11 million were slaughtered by the communists we were protecting people from. We can preach the “brotherhood of mankind” all day long but there are 11 million of our brothers and sisters who were cut down in the killing fields because the (so called) “peace” activists in America got their way.

  10. You said “I agree – I have concern with his statements on abortion – but in the scale of ALL “LIFE” issues I believe he will be more “pro-life” than the past president.”

    I’d like to know how. This is a human rights tragedy that is a deal-breaker for me. Yes, once again, coalition forces caused 50,000 unintentional deaths in Iraq. Yet abortion intentionally killed 1.1 million in EACH YEAR of that same conflict. Now we are exporting the killing of the unborn with our own tax dollars. So, I see your point, but it has not taken into account any scale of proportion in reality.

  11. just trying to listen and learn…

    what to you mean when you use the phrase “redistribution of wealth,” and why is that definition of “redistribution of wealth” unbibilical?

  12. ok so this is a question i have and am looking for your thoughts marque.

    while obamas election is historic to a point, i find it puzzling that we have not viewed the past 8 years as historic or at least contributing to the history of inauguration day. what i mean is that for the past 8 years either a black man or a BLACK WOMAN has been secretary of state!

    now i know that this position does not involve the voting process. i also understand that people don’t view the secretary of state as as much of a status symbol as the presidency and therefore its cultural impact is less (not none just less). but secretary of state is not a position you just hand out to somebody just because their a minority and you want to make yourself look good. it has real potent power. they represent america to the world almost as much (if not more in some ways) as the president does.

    its just odd to me that people (not you, the media mainly) spend all this time praising this historic presidency without even once referencing the other “steps forward” america has taken in terms of race, gender, and offices of power over the past 8 years.

    frankly then it seems to me that “steps forward” only take place when establishment-liberal african ameicans take them. which seems a little off to me.

    so what do you think? why was/is condoleezza rice/colin powells achievement not that big of a deal historically or culturally? or was it and i just missed it?

    (disclaimer section)
    i know this is late in the game and maybe nobody reads this post anymore but i feel the need to say a couple things in light of what i just said.

    first, despite my questions above i am not a fan or CR, CP, or the bush administration. if this nation held its leaders to the same standards it does nations it considers it enemies, CR, CP, DC, DR, PW, GWB, and many others would be on trial for war crimes and/or crimes against humanity. so please don’t view my questions as veiled support for their actions or beliefs.

    second, i love marque jensen and consider his voice in my life to be much much more than a “banging gong” . so please do not reference my post in any personal attacks you choose to launch. believe it or not you can disagree with a fellow Christain and still have him truly be your brother.

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