2009: OBAMA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN!
December 17, 2008
The aftermath of any national election courts a curious mix of elation on one hand and profound disappointment on the other. This most certainly characterizes the upshot of “You Decide 2008.”
Empowered by “yes, we can!” rhetoric, and infused with resolute hope for change, Obama’s camp shares uncommon optimism for the New Year and thereafter. No wonder. Upon clinching his party’s nomination, Obama decreed a time “when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal.”
Truth be told, Americans have much to celebrate. Transfer of power within our uniquely designed system required no show of arms or violence. With quiet dignity the presidential torch passed to a Harvard-degreed, African-American man raised the son of a white, single mom. To his credit, Obama boasts a stable, charming family. Accordingly, his ascent to the White House is reminiscent of the JFK Camelot era.
In having “prevailed against the system,” our President-elect broke a long-standing glass ceiling. Thus, he rendered as moot the racially-propelled, now outmoded “blame game” that for decades had served only to fragment American society (World, 6 December 2008).
And, then, there’s Michelle, whose great, great grandfather lived as a slave. Her American family journeyed from egregious slavery through shameful segregation and a raucous civil-rights movement. In the wake of this historic presidential election, the Robinson family is destined to upgrade from a slave cabin at the Friendfield Plantation in Georgetown, SC to the White House in our nation’s capitol.
Even a pro-life African-American Baptist pastor, Clenard Childress, who on more than one occasion has spoken out against Obama, cannot discount inspiration derived from the Obama story.
Wishin’ and Hopin’
Given the media’s love affair with their candidate of choice, it’s no mystery why the election went as it did. Pundits sought with success to end what they characterized as “the small-minded Bush years” during which time “thieves looted our governments and businesses” (Mick Dumke, 6 November 2008). In contrast, the Obama campaign self-characterized as “the change that we seek” by “the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
For his meteoric rise, Obama owes a huge debt to Hollywood whose big names got out the vote—Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake and superstar George Clooney to name but a few. Fans he has, and also fanfare. The Internet’s awash with Obama praises, and television ads market election memorabilia featuring “plush Obama dolls,” victory plates and Obama-inscribed gold coins.
To fans, friends and followers, Obama Claus appears as one laden with a bulbous bag hoisted over his shoulder and stuffed with eye-popping goodies for all the good little boys and girls eagerly awaiting their cut.
“I Want” lists contain a new stimulus package over two years, tax cuts and credits for businesses, expanded education, innovative renewable energy options and a ten-year, $1.2 trillion health-care fix. None is excluded from his bounty. Obama Claus promises illegal immigrants generous federal funds for health care, education services and legal drivers’ licenses; and his worldwide handouts are incredibly extravagant—e.g., Obama-sponsored U.S. Millennium Development Goals at already over-burdened taxpayer expense to cut in half extreme poverty by 2015. What a guy!
No doubt Obama’s stockpile of goodies is impressive, but the “bah-humbug” crowd suggests we hold the “ho, ho, ho.” CBS News and various independent experts calculate that—even if Obama closes every loophole, saves every penny from Iraq, raises taxes on the wealthy and trims the federal budget “line by line,” as promised—he faces a budget shortfall of some $90 billion his first year alone.
In view of extreme remedies for the current worldwide financial holocaust, economist Irwin Stelzer further predicts that the Obama administration will be confronted with the most frenzied lobbying in American history. Inevitably, this will be coupled with massive market inefficiencies that political directives will introduce (Seattle Times, 30 November 2008).
To rescue the failing global economy, Obama Claus and his yet-to-be-confirmed elves can return it to market control (perceived to have failed), use the crisis to “seize the commanding heights of the economy” for the greater good (kinda’ like Marxism?)—or pull out to the North Pole!
Speaking of which, the administration’s pulling out from Iraq may placate pacifists, but at the same time this popular strategy threatens surrendered control of the land to Al Qaida, thus freeing the frenzied faithful to redirect their venom to others they’ve purposed to eliminate.
Nor does this flawed strategy appease an imminent threat of bioterrorism. Chaired by former Senator Bob Graham (D—FL), a nine-member bipartisan commission has concluded that “ground has been lost” in preventing yet another travesty of 9/11 magnitude.
In the aftermath of the campaign marathon, those defeated have emerged stressed and, in many ways, stunned and asking, “How is it that over half of Americans voted for Obama?”
Perhaps surprisingly, I contend that the religious community—consisting of cosmic- (and even secular-) humanists, American Muslims, Latino Catholics and evangelical Christians—was instrumental in tipping the scales in Obama’s favor.
Previously outspoken people of faith submissively took their punishment for what has been lambasted as a failed administration. Feeling suspected, publically maligned and disdained, segments of the religious right yielded to the muzzle so as to remain undetected as “one of them.” In response to what some describe as a crisis of hope that plagues today’s church, others hopped the hope train engineered by the emerging religious left.
For good reason, hope for change resonates when over eighty percent of U.S. congregations are either stagnant or dying. Evangelical “urbanologist” Dr. Ray Bakke speaks specifically of the “spirit of hopelessness” inside urban churches. Every month some 1,400 leave the ministry, and every week 53,000 parishioners forsake the church, never again to return.
Raised by American missionaries Francis and Edith Schaeffer (notable leaders within the American evangelical subculture), Frank Schaeffer applauds Obama’s victory for monumental political change, yes, but also as a spiritual revolution. Frank now regrets having participated in forming the religious right. It’s about time, he proclaims, for “reasoned faith” to become fashionable once again.
Reasoned Faith at What Cost?
This time around, key issues that previously propelled the Christian right into the political sphere took back seat to the economy and the War on Terror.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum published an analysis of Obama’s pro-abortion record (March 2001). In Obama’s world, babies who survive abortions (and any other pre-term newborns) should be permitted to be killed. Why? Because giving them legal protection would have the effect of banning all abortions, and we all know that powerful pro-abortion activists wouldn’t take kindly to that (Focus on the Family Action, October 2008).
Moreover, in a time identified by Charles W. Colson and CBC’s Nigel M. de S. Cameron as crucial for Christians to bring their influence to bear on “human dignity in the biotech world,” Obama will relax federal restrictions on financing embryonic stem-cell research. For good reason, Colson compels us all to ponder profound moral issues and implications that affect the future of the entire human race. The new genetics involving embryo and stem-cell research, cloning, genetic engineering, gene therapy, pharmacogenomics, cybernetics, nanotechnology and abortion demand ethical and legal challenges.
Of critical concern to American families is encroachment of an ever-in-your-face gay agenda. Clearly and explicitly, David Thorstad identifies the ultimate goal of the gay liberation movement—that being, sexual freedom for all, even young people and children. Even so, the new administration opposes a Constitutional ban on gay marriage while, at the same time, it supports civil unions.
To “live and let live” is one thing; to indoctrinate school-aged children in favor of a dicey lifestyle is yet another. A study by the Family Research Institute revealed that the average male gay can expect to live 42 years (as opposed to 74 years for heterosexuals), and lesbians live an average of 45 years (as opposed to 79 years for heterosexual women). At best, hope for these is “to beat the odds.”
To countless many, Obama is viewed as “a messiah-like figure” (Dinesh Sharma) ushering in “a quantum leap in American consciousness” (Deepak Chopra).
Regarding Obama’s ascension to the White House, movie director Spike Lee adds that “everything’s going to be affected by this seismic change in the universe.” In an age of skepticism and secularism, it was truly amazing to witness the ecstatic, almost worshipful response of the world community.
Given the announcement of Obama’s victory, Obama City, Japan, joined Paris, Berlin, London and Rome in dancing, shouting and shedding tears of joy. The President-elect’s relatives in Kenya chanted, “We are going to the White House!” and their government declared a national holiday in Obama’s honor.
On the home front, U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (Dem-Ill) pontificated: “The event itself is so extraordinary that another chapter could be added to the Bible to chronicle its significance”; and Louis Farrakhan (Nation of Islam) pronounced Obama “a savior to us all.”
Oprah Winfrey describes this savior as “an evolved leader” having “an ear for eloquence and a tongue dipped in unvarnished truth.” At his best, Obama is “able to call us back to our highest selves” (Ezra Klein). Steve Davis notes that he “communicates God-like energy.”
In Oprah’s words, “Hope won” when Mahatma Obama prevailed. Or did it?
Faith, Hope, Charity—These Three
No doubt Obama’s election was a dramatic event—maybe even “bigger than Kennedy,” as Chris Matthews believes; but “feeling a thrill going up his leg” was a little over the top, I’d say.
Hope springs eternal in the human heart, true; but unless that hope is fixed on what’s real, hope constitutes no more than a vapor destined to dissipate. So, then, what is the basis of “real hope”? Scriptures are clear that a Christian’s “lively hope” comes by Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, patience and comfort of the Holy Scriptures (1 Peter 3:15; Hebrews 6:19; Romans 15:4).
There is answer to the hope within Christian believers, and (sorry, Chris) it has nothing to do with “leg thrills”—nor is it resident in governmental policies or “evolved” world leaders. While partisan politics sparks lively debate, the same will not and cannot establish lasting hope in the human heart.
Perilous times as these require hope against all hope, even in the face of terror, want and cultural upheaval. The Patriarch Abraham learned that faith, hope and love—these three—abide. And that we, too, can count on! (1 Corinthians 13:13) Yes, we can!
As America opens a new chapter in her history, may we, as Christians, anchor our hope aright, pray fervently for those who have rule over us, render to Caesar his due and, for the Lord’s sake, eschew slander and respectfully submit to every rightful ordinance of man (James 5:16; Matthew 22:21; Acts 23:5; 1 Peter 2:13).
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In 2009, we need not fear, for in Christ we are of good courage. He alone empowers us to stand fast and vie for our people and for the cities of our God (2 Samuel 10:12).
That, my friend, is my New Year’s resolution. Let it be yours as well.