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The Faith of Barack Obama Revised and Updated Paperback – November 21, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
As a veteran communications professional, it comes as no surprise that Mansfield commands an easygoing conversational speaking style that helps buffer some of the potentially loaded issues he chooses to tackle. While he may be best identified by his ties to the conservative evangelical community, Mansfield possesses the ability to explore divergent ideologies while acknowledging some of his personal red flags with a tone of utmost respect. Listeners in search of a definitive, comprehensive Obama spiritual biography may not find the level of dramatic new revelations they were hoping for, but Mansfield succeeds in adding thoughtful theological and political context to events and experiences. Perhaps the most captivating section involves Mansfield's account of a Sunday visit to Trinity United Church of Christ, the congregation from which Senator Obama resigned his membership following publicity surrounding controversial statements by founding pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Mansfield presents an analysis of Obama's distinctly postmodern journey that will generate valuable discussion across the religious spectrum. A Thomas Nelson hardcover. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Stephen Mansfield is the New York Times bestselling author of Lincoln's Battle with God, The Faith of Barack Obama, Pope Benedict XVI, Searching for God and Guinness, and Never Give In: The Extraordinary Character of Winston Churchill. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Beverly.
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Top customer reviews
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The biggest let down is probably that the author in no way ever interviewed President Obama.
His last chapter, "A Time to Heal," feels anti-climactic. It feels separated from the rest of the book, as it moves completely off the faith of Barack Obama and affirms and approves of what perhaps was most discontenting in the entire book. I would've liked the book better if it had ended on what feels to me, a Conservative Christian, a more positive note in Chapter 5, "A New Band of Brothers."
It is chapter 5 that perhaps gives us the most intimate look into the daily life of Barack Obama's faith now. The rest of the book really feels like speculation, assumption, and educated guesses. Without talking with Barack Obama himself, we really don't know what is in the head of our leader when it comes to spirituality and his faith.
In the revision and update, I would've like an answer or at least speculation from the faith-counselors of Obama that Mansfield (the author) did interview, as to exactly how Obama feels okay to profess as a believing Christian, but at the same time politically champion unbiblical stances. The final chapter left me feeling ambiguous, and in fact any hope that I had received from chapter 5 was diminished.
Mansfield concluding remarks seem to be off base. He argues that Obama has introduced a new breed of "Religious Left," and remarks, "There have been other Democrats who were religiously fluent of course. Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter come to mind. Yet both men seemed to truncate their faith, seemed to erect a wall of separation between faith and practice. Obama's religion infuses his public policy..." as I would argue in light of Obama's championing unbiblical stances, that Clinton and Carter seemed to let their religion influence their policy more than Obama ever has. I understand that Obama's understanding of social injustices have came out of his religion, but surely much of his professed faith remains to influence his public policy.
The book overall was interesting, and surely I know more than I did know... But like many reviews state, it leaves me wanting, and leaves me with more questions. Perhaps this is a good book to start, but now I can only wait for more thorough books to see where I continue.
After acknowledging polling data which reveals the confusion of Americans as to what faith the president actually belongs to, the author seeks to unravel this mystery in a coherent form. He begins with Obama's speech at the Democratic convention of 2004. This is where a man with a strange name was first introduced to the nation in a very big way. In that speech, he began to articulate a religiously Left vision for the nation as an alternative to the Religious Right.
Much time is spent in the book talking about Obama's roots. Included are details about his religiously mingled upbringing that brought such doubt and certainty to what he believes. In its pages, the book quotes Obama as revealing that his mother was his biggest influence in matters of faith.
As one would expect, the Dr. Jeremiah Wright is a large figure in Obama's life and thus in the emphasis of the book. The author explains African American church history as the author understands it, how it has shaped Obama and why it was so hard for the president to separate himself from Dr. Wright. Mansfield believes that President Obama will always be remembered in association with this controversial figure.
A turn takes place in the book as Mansfield explains the transition from Wright to a "band of brothers" which surrounds Obama with counsel, prayer and even daily devotions. Added to their number is Carey Cash, the chaplain at Camp David who was an Iraq War chaplain with the Marines and who becomes the Obama family's pastor. These influencers have helped President Obama, the author is convinced, to become more sure and grounded in his faith.
There are divergent opinions as to Obama's faith. This "band of brothers" sees the president as a genuine born again Christian. Others outside of the White House are cited as giving reasons why they believe this not to be true. Mansfield predicts that Obama is going to have to explain the growth and evolution of his faith, how it impacts his politics and how his policies have scriptural ground on which to be based.
I have my opinion as to what the faith of Barack Obama is. Reading this book I think will help inform those on the Right, the Left and in the middle as to what that is. Perhaps we would come to different conclusions but this book is well prepared, with tons of sources and well worth the reading for every American who wants a more definitive answer as to what it is that the president believes.