Archive for the ‘God’ Category

Obama’s Path to Faith Was Eclectic, Diverse

January 18, 2009

The presidential inauguration ceremony on Tuesday will begin and end with prayers from two men whom Barack Obama considers role models, advisers and dear friends. One, Joseph Lowery, is an 87-year-old black liberal Methodist from the Deep South who spent his career fighting for civil rights. The other, Rick Warren, is a 54-year-old white conservative evangelical from Southern California who fights same-sex unions.

By Eli Saslow
The Washington Post

The two religious icons are, Lowery said, “usually on opposite sides of the chart.” But Obama will step onstage with them, set his hand on a Bible and feel comfortable in the vast space in between.

For the president-elect, religion has always been less about theology than the power God inspires in communities that worship Him, friends and advisers said. It has been more than three months since he sat through a Sunday church service and at least five years since he attended regularly, but during the transition, Obama has spoken to religious leaders almost daily. They said Obama calls to seek advice, but rarely is it spiritual. Instead, he asks how to mobilize faith-based communities behind his administration.

Then U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama ... 
Then U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) (R) stands next to moderator Pastor Rick Warren at the Civil Forum on the Presidency at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California in this August 16, 2008 file photo. President-elect Obama has chosen Warren, who opposes gay marriage, as a speaker at his inauguration, creating a commotion over what inclusiveness will mean for his administration.REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files (UNITED STATES)

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte
nt/article/2009/01/17/AR2009011702601
.html?hpid=topnews

Related:
What’s the Common Thread in almost All Inauguration Speeches?  Faith, hope and God….
Obama’s Genius, Inauguration Day, and Hope

Joseph Lowery, 87, is a black liberal Methodist from the Deep South.

Joseph Lowery, 87, is a black liberal Methodist from the Deep South. (By Jason Fobart)

Obama’s Genius, Inauguration Day, and Hope

January 17, 2009

Inauguration day is America’s unique day of hope. Whatever the speech, whoever the president-elect: a key player in every inauguration day is bound to be the Almighty and his right hand man: Hope.

I wrote that four years ago in a newspaper story published the morning of George W. Bush’s second inauguration.

Barack Obama made “hope” his watchword.  And that makes him more like all the other presidents than many might expect.

Trying to find a common thread among all those many inauguration day speeches, it occurred to me that “hope” was the most common thread linking all of America’s presidents.

We Americans don’t discuss hope much. Hope, it seems, is for sissies. Americans like action: like John Wayne kicking in the bad guy’s door, six-shooter in hand.

And some people shy away from discussing hope because the concept of hope puts one on the road to prayer and this, WE KNOW, is taboo to a segment of the world’s population.

But there is a day, every four years, when Americans celebrate hope. And that day is Inauguration Day.

And we listen to our elected president’s words. We judge our president-elect by these, his first words, as our commander in chief.

In history, there are many themes that seem to resonate through the inaugural addresses. Education, poverty, crime, war, and peace all appear over and over in inauguration day speeches. But the importance of God’s guidance and the wonderful goodness of hope permeates many of the great American inaugural addresses.

We should not be surprised that many presidents invoke the name of God, maybe even offer a prayer themselves for the success of the nation (and their presidency?), and offer us hope at the inauguration. Their task is looming large; their support sometimes fleeting. One might wonder at the overconfident man in such a difficult situation. Normal men ask for God’s help and offer us all a hopeful vision of the future.

On January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy said, “Let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” He asked us to answer a “call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, ‘rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation’ –a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.”

On another January 20, in 1969, Richard M. Nixon reminded us, “Forces now are converging that make possible, for the first time, the hope that many of man’s deepest aspirations can at last be realized.” He also said, “We see the hope of tomorrow in the youth of today.”

President Lincoln, in his second inaugural, looked with hope at the end of the Civil War. “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and for his orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Lincoln delivered these words on March 4, 1865. Just one month and 10 days after he delivered this speech, on April 14, Lincoln was assassinated.

President Eisenhower evoked hope. On January 20, 1953, he reminded the nation that “we view our Nation’s strength and security as a trust upon which rests the hope of free men everywhere.”

President James A. Garfield suggested a halt in the march of mankind, just for a moment, to reflect upon the importance of hope. In his March 4, 1881 inaugural, he said, “Before continuing the onward march let us pause on this height for a moment to strengthen our faith and renew our hope by a glance at the pathway along which our people have traveled.”

Inauguration day is a day of hope and prayer. No other day in American life is so steeped in prayer. No other day in the American calendar so often reverberates with the theme of hope.

Oh, many moments in American life begin with prayer: including the opening of House and Senate sessions in the capitol. But at our inaugurations, one can feel the sincerity of men thrust into the maelstrom. Greater Washington seems to become a great cathedral of hope and prayer: before it immediately returns to a nation that separates church and state.

What, exactly, is hope? You can’t buy anything with it and nobody can prove that it helps you in life. So what is hope?

Hope is an amputee veteran of the war in Iraq who wants to learn to ski. Hope is the cancer victim who won’t give in. Hope keeps the terminally ill calm and the pinned- down platoon together. Hope is the antithesis of despair, the enemy of our darkest fears.

Hope and prayer drive my friend in South Carolina to fight his multiple sclerosis.

Hope is one of those emotions unique to mankind. It sometimes defies reason and fights off evil thoughts of surrender.

Prayer goes hand-in-hand with hope; and America was founded by men deeply governed by their hope and prayer and belief in God.

The Founding Fathers established the United States, wrote the Declaration of Independence; the Bill of Rights and the Constitution; and created a nation firmly rooted in the belief in God and freedom of religion protected by the separation of church and state.

Many of the Founders and their forefathers fled Europe to escape religious prosecution. They wanted this new nation to allow them freedom of religion and thus the very nation is rooted in a belief in God.

The Declaration of Independence starts this way: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the Earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

After signing the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams, who was called “the firebrand of the American Revolution,” affirmed his obedience to God by stating, “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom alone men ought to be obedient. From the rising to the setting of the sun, may His kingdom come.”

James Madison, the fourth president, made the following statement, “We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

Madison is often referred to as “The Father of Our Constitution.”

When historians at the University of Houston conducted a 10-year study of the ideas that shaped our republic, they found 94 percent of the Founding Fathers’ quotes in 15,000 documents were based on the Bible.”God created all men equal,” one of the most fundamental and important acclamations of our government, became an underlying reason for the Civil War, a fundamental reason for the Emancipation Proclamation and a keynote of equality ever since.

Every president of the United States is sworn into office, by reciting an oath while he has one hand on the Bible. The oath ends, “So help me God.”

Every session of Congress since 1777 commenced with a prayer by a minister paid by the taxpayers.Every military service of the United States pays uniformed religious ministers for the officers and men in service. These ministers are from all faiths that recognize the importance of God in human life. Nearly every base has a chapel.

The Ten Commandments are carved into the doors of the Supreme Court and appear prominently in the court’s chambers.

Every piece of U.S. currency bears the words “In God We Trust.”

In America, you are even free to start your own religion. Nobody (except possibly the Internal Revenue Service) will interfere, so long as you don’t do anything outside the normal bounds of decent behavior.

So, as we all celebrate the blessings of American freedom, justice and government every day, perhaps we should reflect upon the roots and tenets of our democracy. We are not a Godless people. Or are we?

Yes, our democracy is evolving and we are open and accepting to that evolution. But let us not allow the evolution to turn into a careless revolution or even an unintended erosion of the principles by which we live and we are governed.

I am one of those historians that thinks the Founders were pretty smart. Their belief in God, hope and prayer encourages me every day.

So help me God.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

God Invoked on Every Issue, from Chicago to Gaza

January 5, 2009

“We are hoping and praying that they will not be able to deny what the Lord has ordained,” (Senator?) Roland Burris said. “I am not hesitating. I am now the junior Senator from the state of Illinois. Some people may want to question that and that is their prerogative.”

Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey apparently said yesterday that “Allah would punish Israel” for its attacks on Gaza.

We here at Peace and Freedom were attacked by a pastor this last weekend who said God would punish us for supporting Barack Obama.

And Rev. Rick Warren has said he and his God condemn gays….and some of my gay friends said, “Well God Damn Rick Warren for sure…”

Maybe we should allow God to pick and choose His own people at His own time…

Related (On Burris):
http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_11370882

Gaza: Israelis Seek To Live; Hamas Members Martyrdom, Death; Who Can “Win”?

January 2, 2009

No one knew Israel better than Nizar Ghayan.

A professor at the Islamic University in Gaza City, as well as the most respected Hamas military and spiritual strategist since the 2004 assassination of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, no one knew better than Ghayan the maxim he taught his students:
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Whatever Israel does to Hamas, Hamas will win.
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If you kill us, we will become martyrs, the most beloved of God and the Palestinian people, and we will win. If you refrain from killing us, whether from fear or political expedience or moral considerations, we have only cemented our victory.

By Bradley Burston
Haaretz Newspaper

Read the rest:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1050962.html

Gaza: Choosing God’s Power or Military Power

December 30, 2008

On the Shabbat of Hanukkah (December 27), the starkest choice of values and visions of the future was laid before the Jewish people throughout the world.

On the one hand, Jews throughout the world were reading in synagogue the Prophetic vision of Zechariah, no stranger to exile and humiliation, writing from the midst of the Babylonian Captivity 2,500 years ago and looking forward to the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the relighting of its Menorah — both of which had been destroyed by Babylonian militarism. This rebuilding and relighting, Zechariah proclaimed, must be achieved not by mobilizing might and power against Babylonia but by drawing on the Infinite Spirit, God’s power. A vision reinforced by the Rabbis who chose the passage to be read on the holy day that might otherwise easily fall into a celebration of the military might and power of the Maccabees.

By Arthur Waskow
The Washington Post

On the other hand — on the very same day!! — at least 225 Palestinians were killed by Israeli bombs in one more attempt to quell by might and power the use of violence (on a much smaller scale) by Hamas, in what Hamas claims to be a retaliation against the Israeli blockade and semi-starvation of the people of Gaza.

The two choices were to be found in two texts:

The First: “Not by Might, and not by Power — but by My Breathing Spirit, says YHWH Infinite.” — Zechariah 4: 6.

The Second: The New York Times, December 27, 2008:

“GAZA — Waves of Israeli air strikes destroyed Hamas security facilities in Gaza on Saturday in a crushing response to the group’s rocket fire, killing more than 225 — the highest one-day toll in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in decades.

Read the rest:
http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/arthur
_waskow/2008/12/not_by_might_or_–_bombing_
gaz.html

What Sustains Us In Times of Crisis?

December 24, 2008

Who will teach us to deal with these previously unknown trials?

While the challenges of Mother Teresa’s life may seem to have little to do with us in 21st Century America, this may be less and less the case in years to come, as the many-sided specter of crisis looms over our nation and world.

Who will teach us to deal with these previously unknown trials? What solutions will there be for us–besides escape, the hollow promises of a prosperity gospel, or the secret of “attracting abundance”? Mother Teresa’s secret was quite another: more robust, reliable, and real; born of the most powerful force in the universe–the only One to have faced death and overcome it forever. The God-man whose light shines still gentle and strong in our collective night.

As the years go by, Mother Teresa’s challenges may seem less foreign and her solutions more meaningful, even vital. Our common human plight has become our bond with her.

She would tell us that we are each equipped by God to not only survive our personal Calcutta, but to serve there–to contribute to those around us whose personal night intersects our own. If she could face the worst of human suffering, all the while bearing her own pain, then we can do the same in the lesser Calcutta that is ours.

She has taught us the divine alchemy that turns our personal hardships into compassion for others, our lack of material goods into wealth of spirit, and, should it come to that, the loss of our standard of living into the chance to become what ease and abundance would never have allowed us to be.

Mother Teresa’s lessons will prepare us, as no political or economic programs can, to live through our trials with grace, and to turn them into blessings for others. If this simple, humanly un-extraordinary woman could have filled Calcutta’s slums with such love and energy and ingenuity, then we can learn to do the same in our life, no matter what may come.

By Fr. Joseph Langford, the co-founder of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers, with Mother Teresa. He is the author of the new book “Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire.”

Read the rest:
http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guest
voices/2008/12/what_mother_teresa_would_do.html

Obama’s Inaugural Mistake: God Awful

December 20, 2008

Barack Obama has selected televangelist Rick Warren, author of  “The  Purpose Driven Life” and an outspoken opponent of  abortion rights and same-sex marriage, to deliver the invocation at his inauguration Jan. 20. Why? What was he thinking when he picked this particular religious spokesman—a publicity hound who fights against causes of great moral importance to many of Obama’s supporters—for such a prominent role in the inauguration?

I consider this Obama’s first big misstep, and not only because of Warren’s stance on abortion and gay rights. He represents a combination of evangelicalism and boosterism , in the tradition of Norman Vincent Peale and Billy Graham, that is a particularly repugnant part of American religious tradition. Many have suggested that the choice of Warren puts him in a position to succeed Graham as the nation’s  best-known pastor. No religious leader should occupy the role that Graham played in successive  administrations—as an unofficial counselor to presidents, a predictable functionary on all ceremonial occasions, and a spokesman for one brand of religion. It is a brand of religion that has always been allied with American anti-intellectualism, and that is yet another reason why Obama’s choice is so puzzling and disturbing. 

Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren participates in a panel ... 
Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren participates in a panel discussion during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York in this September 26, 2008 file photo. U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Warren, who opposes gay marriage, as a speaker at his inauguration, creating a commotion over what inclusiveness will mean for his administration.REUTERS/Chip East/Files

How wonderful it would have been if a humanist had been included in the inaugural ceremony for the first time.  Secularists, unlike evangelicals, voted overwhelmingly for Obama. It is truly disappointing to me  to see Obama catering those who make up a significant share his enemies and disregarding the views of his friends….

By Susan Jacoby
Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/community/groups/index
.html?plckForumPage=ForumDiscussion&plckDiscussionId=Cat
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Related:
http://sheblogan.wordpress.com/2008/12/20/praying-for-obama/

To Whose God Will Rick Warren Pray?

December 19, 2008

The selection of Southern Baptist megachurch pastor Rick Warren to deliver the Inaugural Invocation raises all sorts of provocative questions.

Has Barack Obama betrayed the left by choosing someone so closely identified with the anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage positions of the Christian Right? Does this mean Warren has succeeded Billy Graham as America’s pastor? Will the 2009 Inaugural Invocation be the first in American history delivered by a man with a goatee?

I think the most interesting question won’t be answered until Warren speaks on Jan. 20. To whom (Whom?) will Warren deliver the Inauguration’s opening prayer? Will his language be inclusive or exclusive? Will he pray to the sort of generic Creator God mentioned in the Declaration of Independence? Will he pray to the monotheistic and paternalistic God the Father? Or will he, as a conservative Christian pastor, pray in the name of Jesus?

Does it matter?

Above: Detail of Sistine Chapel fresco Creation of the Sun and Moon by Michelangelo (completed in 1512).

By David Waters
The Washington Post

Billy Graham used inclusive language when he delivered the Inaugural Invocation in 1989. “0 God, we consecrate today George Herbert Walker Bush to the presidency of these United States,” he said. But four years later, Graham ended his invocation at Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration this way: “I pray this in the name of the one that’s called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. Amen.”

Do you remember anyone complaining? I don’t. It’s Billy Graham, the greatest evangelist of the 20th Century. How else would he pray?

Graham was too frail to deliver invocations for George W. Bush. At Bush’s 2005 Inauguration, Rev. Luis Leon’s prayer language used inclusive language, praying to a “most gracious and eternal God” and closing his prayer by saying, “We ask in Your most holy name.”

But at Bush’s first inauguration in 2001, the pastors who delivered the invocation and benediction created a bit of a stir when both of them prayed to Jesus. The invocation by Franklin Graham ended “in the name of the father, and of the son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit.” The benediction by Kirbyjon Caldwell ended with the words, “‘We respectfully submit this humble prayer in the name that’s above all other names, Jesus the Christ.”

Among the critics was Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, who wrote in the Los Angeles Times that Graham’s “particularistic and parochial language . . . excluded tens of millions of American Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Shintoists, Unitarians, agnostics and atheists from his blessing . . . The plain message conveyed by the new administration is that Bush’s America is a Christian nation, and that non-Christians are welcome into the tent so long as they agree to accept their status as a tolerated minority rather than as fully equal citizens.”

So what will Rick Warren’s prayer say about Obama’s America? What should it say?

Related:
http://sheblogan.wordpress.com/2008/12/20/praying-for-obama/

Obama “Invocation”: Who Needs God? He’s ‘The One’…

December 18, 2008

Barack Obama is in trouble with gays for asking anti-same-sex-marriage Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration.

But many in the media have dubbed Barack Obama “The One” so who needs God anyway?

Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren participates in a panel ... 
Rick Warren: Job with no purpose.  The One has already agreed to arrive….by limo….

Barack Obama has been asked to “invoke” or call down God upon His January inauguration in an invokation.  But the media believes Mr. Obama is The One so who needs the God? 

The Boss will be there  But the real thing is The One.

WorkingOnADream.jpg
Above: The Boss

Don’e get mad at Reverend Warren: he has succeeded already in invoking The Master: we believe The One will be there….

Barack Obama
Above: The One?

 The One Calls Down God to Washington

By Roxanne Roberts
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 18, 2008; Page C01

Forget the millions on Metro, and the bus caravans inching in from beyond the Beltway. Barack Obama‘s inauguration is destined to create the greatest red-carpet gridlock in the history of the Federal City.
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Oprah at the Kennedy Center. Yo-Yo Ma at the swearing-in. Sting at the Harman Center.

Consider all the stars circling The One: Aretha Franklin, Spike Lee, Melissa Etheridge, Lou Gossett Jr., Ashley Judd, Dick Gregory, LL Cool J and T.I., for starters. And the rumor mill is loudly buzzing that Bruce Springsteen (and his new album), Kanye West and Will.I.Am just might drop by.

(Baloncici)Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/17/AR2008121703827.html

Supporters say that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is misunderstood.
Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Said “God damn America”
during church sermon. Probably not right for an
inauguration….Obama was a member of  Wright’s
church and contributed money for some 20 years….

Related:
Obama Picked Pastor Rick Warren Why? Not The “Wright” Choice for Obama….

Barack Obama and Rick Warren: Odder Than a Three Dollar Bill

December 18, 2008

Any strange, weird, or bizarre union or alliance is, to my friend, “Odder than a three dollar bill.”

Rick Warren is an evangelical minister that does not believe in same sex marriage.  In fact, he fights against it and believes that God and the bible are on his side.

President-elect Barack Obama has been considered a friend to the gay community and most said he’s support gay marriage and the rights of gay men and women to live as married people.

Now, Mr. Obama has chosen Mr. (Reverend) Warren to pray at his inauguration: to give the invocation.

An ivocation is an asking or a calling.  An invocation is normally an asking that God will come into an event, a group and/or a person.

Gays may wonder: if Barack Obama is calling on Pastor warren to invoke God to enter the Obama inauguration; and Rick Warren’s God doesn’t believe in gays, the gay lifestyle or gay marriage, where does that leave them?  Will Rick Warren’s God condemn them?

Weirder than a three dollar bill.

Related:
Gay Leaders Furious with Obama Over Rick Warren

Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in California is pictured ... 
Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in California is pictured in September 2008. Barack Obama on Thursday defended his choice of the conservative evangelical pastor to deliver a religious invocation at his January 20 presidential inauguration ceremony. AFP

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(CNN) — Rick Warren — the man at the center of an inaugural firestorm — has built his career on an uncontroversial reputation.

The irony of the furor over Warren’s selection to deliver the invocation at Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony is that the California minister first drew notice for his determination to expand the evangelical agenda beyond hot-button social issues like opposition to same-sex marriage.

Warren has been described as the next Billy Graham, an evangelical leader with a moderate reputation and mass-market appeal — although instead of massive open-air rallies and an out-sized television presence, Warren focused on forging partnerships with unlikely allies working to protect the environment and fight AIDS.

As a pioneer of the mega-church movement, Warren looked to translate traditional evangelical messages for a wider audience. He penned “The Purpose-Driven Life,” a spiritually based self-help guide that brought mainstream best-seller status to a muted religious message.

President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.

Above: President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.

In his model, everyday concerns were a top priority: Attendees at his Saddleback Church — now more than 20,000 strong — could expect free classes on home finance, or assistance with child care needs.

Warren urged ministers to adopt a Madison Avenue approach: to super-charge the growth of congregations by fine-tuning their pitch for the “un-churched.” He released bullet-point sermons with crossover potential, along with material to help churchgoers follow along. The church atmosphere he called for was a relaxed one, with dressed-down ministers leading services in nontraditional venues, featuring easy-listening music chosen with younger listeners in mind.

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/1
8/rick.warren/index.html?section=cnn_latest