"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Obama on Faith, and Doubt

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama on Faith, and Doubt

This just-released, uncut 2004 interview is worth reading from beginning to end. I find Obama's spiritual consciousness to be profound, and I share his suspicion of certainty, his understanding of "sin" and "heaven," and his personal practice of moral realignment. We have almost nothing else in common, so if I'm feeling this way, there must be millions of others who are as well. That's a stunning thought for a former Laestadian!

Here's a quick quote:

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.

Pinch me! That we elected this man is just too amazing to be true.


  1. Free, the problem I have is that Barack Obama is a politician, and therefore I don't fully trust his words. We really haven't known him long enough to know if these words are true, but we will find out in the future. I don't think we should set aside healthy skepticism no matter who it is... his actions will be evidence. (and I don't want to argue with anyone about it, I know that many/most people here feel differently). I do wish the best for him, he will be our President and deserves our prayers and support.

    In fact, we need to be praying for all of those characters in Washington. Does anyone know what they are doing?? Oy. I don't even want to follow the news any more. I'm going to find my 'happy place' lol

  2. I believe Obama was elected by the American people to fix our economy. Hopefully that is what his only focus and agenda will be. Many of the social issues that will come up will be "above his pay grade" as he stated on his stand on abortion. The push from the left (mainly on social issues) will be as hard as it has ever been. I hope he doesn't cave to that pressure. If he does he is likely to be a one term president.

    Food for thought:

    How could Obama attend a service by Rev. Wright "Yep. Every week. 11 oclock service." and not hear or understand his message? I'm sure every Sunday was not like the stuff that came out during the campaign, but the underlying message had to be there. Obviously Obama is extremely intelligent so for him to say he missed it or never heard it is very hard for me to believe.

    Obama stated "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." If you have been led to Christ and you deny him I think the Bible clearly shows that eternal damnation awaits. That is not my judgement or anybody elses to make, but the Bible is very clear on this.

    Then Obama said "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." Maybe this is what he meant by the quote in the paragraph above. There are some mysteries of God that none of us knows the answer to. This scenario is one of them.

    What about the little kid who survived an abortion? Obama voted three times against a bill that would have stopped the practice of letting a baby that survived an abortion die. He said this was because it infringed upon Roe v. Wade or something to that end. Google Jill Stanek, former nurse at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Look up her youtube video interview with Bill O'Reilly. I'm not saying Obama in reality directly supports this practice. BUT, by way of his no votes he indirectly supports this. We should all err on this side of caution and the greater good.

    Obama also said "If all it took was someone proclaiming I believe Jesus Christ and that he died for my sins, and that was all there was to it, people wouldn't have to keep coming to church, would they." Right on! There are several regulars here that believe exactly that. What do you who have espoused exactly this think?

    Obama dodged the question on belief in Heaven. I don't know why, but he dodged it. Obama through his answer seems to be building his Christianity on good works. An answer, yes, but still not an answer to the question posed.

    I really hope Obama sticks to what the people hired him to do: Fix our broken economy. While I may not agree with his philosophy on things I believe that God has put Obama, and all other leaders, good or bad, in place for a reason. A reason sometimes not known or understood. Remember to pray for our elected President.

    Pinchie the Pincher

  3. Gee, PtheP, did your ballot look different from mine? I didn't get a "fix the economy only" option. While the economy is rightly Obama's priority, he also has some plans for changing our foreign policy, our trampled Constitution, our approach to global warming . . . to name a few (check out change.gov for more). I find it encouraging that he knows they are all interconnected.

    As for Rev. Wright, despite some very strident efforts, the majority of Americans did not deem the relationship a dealbreaker. And they seemed to get that Obama's stance on abortion is more nuanced than an up/down vote on a flawed bill.

    Norah, I understand your skepticism and think it is necessary to sift politican's words with a fine mesh. As I've said before, I don't agree with Obama on everything, but I do find his thought process congenial. He is cautious, light on dogma, curious, and capable of learning.

    We actually know quite a lot about him, despite the Fox News meme that he is an enigma. Read his books and you will know him better than most of us know our relatives, warts and all.

    Now about gardening with a bad back: do get someone to build you some raised beds. This summer we built ADA-compliant beds for a community garden so even folks in wheelchairs can access them. In my own garden, I plant things that can tolerate neglect, and each year I push the limit a bit further (to the point you could hardly call it "gardening" -- letting stuff grow is more like it). We have plenty of "weed" veggies such as green beans, chard and squash, so no matter what the tomatoes do, we have delicious produce all season.

    Next summer, though, I have a priority: six Cherokee tomato plants, so I have lots to slow-roast, with garlic and olive oil. Beyond delectable.

  4. I've only read one of Obama's books--Dreams of My Father--and that was years ago. I agree with Free that his views are out there for those who are willing to read with an open mind.

    As for Rev. Wright, I do understand how Obama might have remained in his church despite knowing the pastor held some beliefs with which he did not agree. To tie this back into Laestadianism (yes, I would really like to get this back to the subject) there was a time I recall certain people(not from the pulpit) make disparaging racial remarks that upset me greatly. This was a bit over 20 years ago, and it upset me enough that I considered leaving the church. At the time, I was dating a person of color, and there were those who disapproved of this relationship based soley because of his race. Now, 20 years later, things look a bit different in the IALC. My brother sits next to his wife who was born in India and is a practicing Hindu--which does worry my mother a lot but she has accepted her quite well. A close family friend married a person of African descent, and their kids play with the other kids at big meetings without any discernable problem. Another cousin adopted two mixed race (white and black) boys, another couple adopted two Native American children, I know of two latino young men who have converted, and there are quite a number of adopted children from Asia and Latin America.

    No one seems to make this a problem that I have ever heard, even when they grew up and started dating our own blonde-haired sons and daughters, despite that 20+ years ago I shocked a few people.

    People are complex and are capable of evolving. Perhaps even Rev. Wright is evolving this very minute. This election certainly has had a healing effect on our nation because Obama is black. I overheard two black custodial workers at my place of employment saying on Wednesday, Nov. 5, "Man, it feel good to be alive today...it don't take back everything that happened to me back home in Mississippi growing up, but it sure is a good band-aid." Verbatim.

    To those doubting Thomases out there: I gave your president an honest chance when we elected Bush. I didn't drive around with a bumper sticker that said, "Not My President" or slandered his name and I gave him a fair shot. (Yes, he blew it.) No, I never did understand why it is okay to kill a criminal but not okay to pull the plug on a brain-dead woman in Florida whose soul was likely trapped somewhere in limbo. (A quite metaphysical pondering). I imagine that many people might not understand why a conservative Christian (practicing Laestadian) could be left-of-center, either, politically, but we are all products of our life experiences. I love the fact that Obama has grown up partly overseas and always in a multi-cultural environment because he understands that the world is not black and white but many brilliant colors and I think it will only help him balance the needs of a multi-cultural nation we have become, with mixed religious points of views. I think he will accomodate my own Laestadianism better than anyone.

    --Stranger in a Strange Land

  5. Stranger again:

    I thought I'd leave a favorite poem of a friend of mine, that for me captures this Obama victory. This poem once appeared in the underground of Helsinki and St. Petersburg:


    Sometimes things don't go, after all,
    from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
    faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail.
    Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

    A people sometimes will step back from war,
    elect an honest man, decide they care
    enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
    Some men become what they were born for.

    Sometimes our best intentions do not go
    amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
    The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
    that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.

    -- Sheenagh Pugh

    --Stranger in a Strange Land

  6. Stranger,
    You make an excellent point. How many of us stayed in a Laestadian church for many years while not agreeing with the teachings and preachings. Hmmmm...I had not thought of that. Thank you!

    I agree that it would be good to get back to a discussion about religion again rather than the politics and economy, both of which have me tired out and bored.

    Any ideas for something new? I'd even be willing to discuss the proficiency of the Laestadian Lutheran Church Basement Ladies (to steal a bit from Keillor), since I just loaded my freezer with a dozen pasties, pulla, and flatbread from the recent Harvest Days fundraiser at the LLC church north of Seattle. God bless 'em -- they know the way to my heart...and stomach! I recall fondly those times of toil in the church basement, getting ready to feed a zillion people at meetings, funerals, you name it. The good old "dead spread" of hamburger hotdish, cherry jello with small marshmallows, and pie was always a hit. At meetings, good plain fare like roast beef, mash, veggies, bread, were the norm...and let's not forget the pies.

    Due to my cooking skills my contribution was peeling thousands of spuds. How many times did lots of ladies (mostly, since too many of the men viewed it as women's work after all) toil in the basement while the services were going on, trying to listen on a scratchy speaker, putting on a great feed, and then cleaning up and getting ready to do it all over again the next day! And then it was a race home to get ready to feed and care for visitors, get them to bed, make huge breakfasts the next morning, and race back to the church. Oh, did I mention how many of them had a brood of their own kids to get ready and care for as well? Many jewels in the crown were earned, and re-earned for that selfless service.

  7. I was at Sam's Club today and bought one of the super duper sizes of Pillsbury pie crusts. The lady at check out asked if I was going to be baking a lot of pies. Oh no..says I. I'll be making pasties! Yes folks; in this busy whirlwind we call life, this Finn has resorted to making her pasties with Pillsbury. Don't knock it till you try it. Just don't forget the rutabegger. 'Course, I had to explain to this poor poor soul what the heck a pasty was.

    Now for a second back to Obama...The very reason I was able to overlook his staying and listening to absolute crap from the pulpit is that I bear the same guilt. I didn't leave my LLL congregation until well into adulthood.
    Happy pasty baking yous guys!

  8. For you pasty makers out there, could we get you to post your favorite recipe here (with Free's permission)?

    I too am sick to death of politics.

  9. Free, I like the idea of ADA compliant raised beds for gardening - thanks!.. I would like to turn our back yard into a garden, like the Victorian "Door Yard", where everything is right outside the back door. Right now I only have rhubarb and strawberries, but would love to do more, if low maintenance.

    re: Obama as president - I've been skeptical of every president-elect starting with Ronald Reagan. Part of the prophecy narrative which I'll not go into, but I'm an 'equal-opportunity' skeptic lol