September 21, 2010
A long-forgotten interview from 2004 provides insight
When writing about Barack Obama’s religious orientation recently, I pointed out that while I do believe he favors Muslim over Western culture, bowing before another — even God — is above his humility grade. I further mentioned that in keeping with this self-centeredness, Obama is (like all leftists) someone who denies moral reality.
Ironically, after penning my piece, I became aware of an interview Obama once gave — one quite relevant to the topic at hand. It was conducted in 2004 by Chicago Sun Times religion reporter Cathleen Falsani while Obama was running for the U.S. Senate, and it offers great insight into the nature of Obama’s “faith.” I think you’ll be interested to hear what he had to say.
The whole interview is infused with typical leftist philoso-babble. Obama says he’s “a big believer in tolerance” and thus looks askance at “certainty” and believes in the necessity “doubt” (an attitude mysteriously absent when pushing health care), bringing to mind G.K. Chesterton’s observation, “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” Yet Obama also told Falsani that he had “deep faith.” This might cause some to wonder “In what?” And this brings us to the part of the interview in which he was asked “What is sin?” Here was his answer:
“Being out of alignment with my values.”
Perhaps this question was also above Obama’s pay grade, or maybe he studied divinity with Al Gore. Whatever the case, this is not the definition of sin. Rather, sin is when you violate God’s laws, or, to put it in more modernistic terms, it’s being out of alignment with God’s values (which are the Truth). So it was an interesting answer. Some might conclude that if you define sin as being out of alignment with your values, you believe you are God.
An even stranger answer came earlier in the interview. In response to Falsani’s query about whether he prayed often, Obama said, “Uh, yeah, I guess I do. It’s not formal, me getting on my knees. I think I have an ongoing conversation with God. I think throughout the day, I'm constantly asking myself questions about what I'm doing, why am I doing it [emphasis mine].”
Did everyone catch that? If I pray to God, I may ask Him questions. I won’t say that I have “an ongoing conversation with God” and then reflexively follow up with “I’m constantly asking myself questions . . . .”
That is, unless I believe I am God.
Now, do I say that Obama thinks he is a supreme being who created the Universe? Unless it’s a universe of programs, laws, regulations and debt, no. But I am certain (if it’s still legal to be so) that Obama is a typical leftist: self-centered and solipsistic. He has deified himself, in the sense that he believes he is above everyone else. This is why he, showing no doubt whatsoever, feels so sure about reshaping our world in his own image.
His comments also vindicate my assessment of him as a moral relativist. Whenever you hear “my values,” know that it’s the language of relativism. It’s the belief that, hey, you have your values, I have mine — you say “potato” and I say “potahto” — and it’s all just a matter of perspective. This is contrary to any absolutist faith, such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. They teach that God has determined right and wrong and that it is something eternal and unchanging, encapsulated in a word leftists avoid: Truth.
Understand that “values” itself is a term of relativism. Mother Teresa had values, but so did Adolf Hitler; values aren’t good by definition — virtues are. This is why the latter term is hardly uttered in today’s if-it-feels-good-do-it culture; instead, people may boast about how they have values, which is much like a street pusher defending his trade by saying that he provides drugs (which can cure or kill). A value can be sinful as well as sublime.
But in the leftists’ universe there is no sin. After all, they believe as ancient Greek philosopher Protagoras did that “Man is the measure of all things.” However, if this is so, what is what we call right and wrong? It then can be nothing but opinion. But think about the implications of this: If that unchanging and eternal thing called Truth didn’t exist, “morality” couldn’t have any basis in reality. And this would mean that right and wrong doesn’t exist at all. Ergo, no sin.
Unfortunately for Obama’s opponents, however, this insight into his un-faith won’t lose him many votes. This is because he has a lot of company, as moral relativism is the characteristic spiritual disease of our time. And this is why I will use this opportunity as, to quote our relativist-in-chief, a “teachable” moment.
A poll in recent years found that, strikingly, 62 percent of those identifying as Christians didn’t believe in Absolute Truth. I’ll also note that we have seen a great number of articles lately about how Christian youth leave the Church as they move through college. These two factors are not unrelated.
On a simple level, if there’s no Truth — if virtues are just values and values are just opinion — why pick up your cross and carry it? Why embrace a faith that places moral constraints upon you (especially the sexual variety, which interferes with moderns’ favorite recreation)? “If it feels good, do it” then makes more sense.
Delving a bit deeper, relativism strikes at the foundational act of Christianity: the sacrifice at Calvary. After all, if right and wrong are just opinion and there is thus no sin, there was no reason for Jesus to die on the cross, was there? (But He never said that His blood would be shed for you and for all so that opinions may be forgiven.) So if you haven’t instilled your children with a belief in Truth, don’t be surprised when they leave the Church. If they don’t believe in sin, they cannot believe in a savior.
But this doesn’t mean they won’t desire salvation — that is, at least the worldly variety. And this is one reason why millions of Americans, especially the ever-more-relativistic young, voted for The One. A people who believed in Truth would never cast such a vote — and those who do believe in it generally didn’t — but when man doesn’t believe in God, he makes man God. As to why, I explored the reasons in The New American magazine in 2009, writing:
Among other things, people find a belief in God comforting. It involves the ideas that God, or good, will always triumph in the end; that someone is watching over them, cares for them, will help them, and will be there for them in the end. Now, since this human need doesn’t disappear along with faith, it follows that people will replace God with something else when they lose faith in Him. Thus did millions of Germans cheer Hitler believing he represented security, triumph, economic resurrection, hope, and change. And it isn’t surprising that he rose during the desperate days of the Weimar Republic, with its hyper-inflation and hypo-industriousness. It is when people are desperate that they search for a savior; when they are brought to their lowest, they have nowhere to look but up. It is then that they find either the Deity or a demagogue. And when you mistake the latter for the former, the danger is profound. For you don’t disobey a god, you don’t question him; a god is infallible. A prostrate people will follow a messianic leader to the ends of the Earth even if it takes them to the edges of Hell.
. . . Someone who would accept any degree of deification is not only unfit to be worshipped as a god, he is unfit to be followed as a leader. As G.K. Chesterton said in his classic work The Everlasting Man, “A great man knows he is not God, and the greater he is the better he knows it.... Nobody can imagine Aristotle claiming to be the father of gods and men, come down from the sky; though we might imagine some insane Roman Emperor like Caligula claiming it for him, or more probably for himself.” It is also correct to say that truly great people know that their leaders aren’t God, and the greater they are, the better they know it.So, ultimately, the warning here isn’t about Barack Obama. It is about us. Our tendency to make man into God will always be directly proportional to our tendency to make God into myth.
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Thank God, the myth of Obama has finally been punctured in the minds of many. As with the Daniel Dravot character (played by Sean Connery) in “The Man Who Would be King,” the natives have now seen Obama bleed, and they’re not happy. He is bleeding America, and he won’t stop until somebody (hopefully the Republicans starting January) stops him. After all, why would he listen to the people or compromise with anyone? Despite his extolling of uncertainty, when he has his “ongoing conversation with God” and is asking himself questions, I tend to think he views the answers as most infallible, indeed.