I first read the name "Barack Obama" a few years ago.
I used to be a big fan of Alan Keyes (my how far we've come...). I thought (and still think) he's one of the greatest debators I've seen. I can now see that his arguments are bogus...but he still uses them well. And I fell for him in 1996 and then in 2000 wrote him in for president. After 2000, I kept tabs on him. In 2004, when the Republican candidate for Senate in Illinois had to withdraw from the election due to a scandal, they tabbed Alan Keyes to come in and carry the ticket.
Turns out he was running against this heathen with a weird name: Barack Obama. Immediately I formed an opinion of Barack Obama. I swallowed Keyes' words that "Jesus wouldn't vote for Barack Obama." He must be evil. But even I could admit that this dude's speech at the DNC was pretty good.
It was Sen. Obama's speech at the 2006 Call to Renewal Conference in Washington, D.C. that gave me my first real ounce of hope in politics. For the first time, I heard a politician speak frankly and honestly about the interaction of his faith in Jesus Christ and his politics, particularly concerning the poor. I so wish that followers of Christ could watch this video today without a year and a half of politicking, political ads, and FoxNews.
Later that summer, I asked my Democrat uncle and Representative to the Vermont State House and Assistant Majority Leader, Floyd Nease if he thought Sen. Obama had a chance at the presidential nomination. He said something along the lines of, "No way, he is not known well enough to get the nomination." I don't mind having something to hold over him. :-)
I was pleased when Sen. Obama announced his candidacy, even though I knew he and I differed greatly on some issues, namely abortion.
At the same time, I've been disappointed with how he's run some of his campaign:
- For one, he took the video of the above speech off his official website...the transcript's there, but it's not complete. You can watch the video in five parts on YouTube (here's the first part). I've not seen the speech spoken of in the media.
- Secondly, the way he handled his pastor and church was seemingly completely a political move and it greatly disappointed me. (Yes, I know...my disappointment with the situation is a very different disappointment than that of pretty much everyone else you hear from. I have my reasons, but that is a post for another time.)
Despite these two things, Rick Warren's forum gave me back just a little bit of faith in Sen. Obama's faith. I still can't understand how people can assume so strongly that Sen. McCain carries Christian values more than Sen. Obama based on one issue (and we all know what that one issue is). The demeanor of their answers to Pastor Warren's questions that evening were so very different. It was clear to me that Sen. Obama spoke of a Christ I knew better than Sen. McCain.
For instance, note here how they both answered the question of what it means to follow Christ daily. Sen. McCain barely answered it, and certainly didn't speak of what it means from day-to-day, which is very important to me in picking the most powerful human being on the planet. Sen. Obama spoke of how his faith in Christ affects his daily decision-making.
Or, note how they answered the question of evil. While I disagree with both of them in general that the answer to the world's problems is to kill Osama bin Laden, Sen. Obama at least acknowledges that revenge is God's and not ours. McCain's answer was based on the general American feeling that we are gods and we get our own revenge, revenge, revenge. He moves in his answer from killing Osama bin Laden to the assumption that the American military is the answer to theodicy. I vehemently disagree. Talk like this is an abuse of faith in God (note 2:09 of this video...and 3:50). We must be careful of what we label "the will of God."
So, anyway, if Barack Obama wins the election and if he will be even 50% of the man I saw give that speech at Call to Renewal as president, I'll be happy. Of course, Derek Webb may be correct, and you can call me ignorant or gullible for having hope...but I'd rather live hopefully than fearfully. However, I maintain above all else that despite his own repeated words ("America is the world's last great hope"), Sen. Obama is not the hope of the world.
I also like Sen. McCain. I said before the party nominations were clear that the best case scenario for me would be an Obama-McCain race. I think Sen. McCain is very respectable (his answer to Rick Warren re: "why are you running for president"was way better than Sen. Obama's and so was his answer to the question regarding his own moral failure). I think he will truly try to serve as he knows it and that he has not lied nearly as much as most politicians in DC. And citizens of the United States can feel safe if he's elected president (if that's your priority).
So today's the big election. And tonight I'm going to be in front of the TV watching history, one way or another. And everyone's buzzing, from updates on Facebook, to the Naznet, to the polling places, to the media. I'm hoping that there's no long, drawn out declaration of a win.
I commit here and now to praying for the President of the United States tomorrow. I think that with either man, the US will be headed in a much better direction. I confess that I've not prayed for President Bush enough. I give a sub-confession that things like this and this detracted me from doing so. That's wrong. I commit to praying for the President more.
Speaking of prayer...
Tomorrow morning we're heading up to Waterville, VT. Not much going on up there. I'll have no internet access and weak cell phone reception. We're going up so I can spend a couple of days in silence, prayer, and planning regarding North Street and our direction in worship and scripture in the coming months and the coming Church year. I'll sit at Meghan's "Pop-Pop's" desk for most of the time. I know that he used this desk and office for scripture study and prayer quite a bit before he passed away.
(That covered bridge in the picture is a 5 minute walk from Meghan's grandparents' home.)
And then since my birthday is Saturday, we're going to spend the tail end of our trip doing our Vermont stuff: the Cider Mill, Cabot outlet, and driving on Route 100. We'll be well past peak up there (we're past peak here in Hingham), but it'll be nice to be in Vermont anyway.