Tales from the Trail

from FaithWorld:

A new twist on the “Is Obama a Christian?” debate

The "Is Obama a Christian?" discussion is starting up again, this time not by people who suspect he's a Muslim but those who think he's a phony follower of Jesus Christ. The occasion for this is the posting on Beliefnet of an interview he gave to the Chicago Sun Times in 2004, while he was still an Illinois state senator. Conservative Christians have taken his religious views as proof he's not a real Christian, but there's support from a more liberal corner for his views.

That there is disagreement isn't really a surprise. Theologians have been debating who is a Christian almost since the dawn of the faith and still dispute where the dividing lines lie. What is more interesting is that critics are picking apart his views -- or purported views -- on theological issues that have no obvious importance for his job as president. (Photo: Obama at Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, June 15, 2008/John Gress)

Bloggers Joe Carter and Rod Dreher read in Obama's interview a denial of the Nicene Creed since he called Jesus "a bridge between God and man" rather than clearly saying he is the Son of God (hat tip to Steve Waldman). "Unless Obama was being incredibly and uncharacteristically inarticulate, this is heterodox. You cannot be a Christian in any meaningful sense and deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. You just can't," Dreher writes. Has Obama denied the divinity of Jesus Christ here? That's not clear here. Another point that Carter notes is that he doesn't believe that people who have not embraced Jesus as their personal saviour will automatically go to hell. "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. That’s just not part of my religious makeup," he said.

Elsewhere on its site, Beliefnet quotes a prominent Catholic theologian saying the same thing: "...Everything we believe about God, and everything we know about man, prevents us from accepting that beyond the limits of the Church there is no more salvation ... We are no longer ready and able to think that our neighbor, who is a decent and respectable man and in many ways better than we are, should be eternally damned simply because he is not a Catholic. We are no longer ready, no longer willing, to think that eternal corruption should be inflicted on people in Asia, in Africa, or wherever it may be, merely on account of their not having "Catholic" marked in their passport." This came from none other than a certain Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI. The quote is from 1964, from the young Ratzinger, and is not what he would say today. But even he said it back then and many theologians would agree with Obama's view today.

As Waldman points out, it's a view that George Bush would also agree with. And apparently with him many Christians as well:"millions and millions of people call themselves Christian, worship at Christian churches and believe that acceptance of Christ is not required for entry into heaven. In a recent Pew poll, 70% said 'many religions can lead to eternal life.' 66% of Protestants and 79% of Catholics said they agreed with that idea."

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Israel and India vs Obama’s regional plans for Afghanistan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will Israel and India -- the first the United States' closest ally and the second fast becoming one of the closest -- emerge as the trickiest adversaries in any attempt by the United States to seek a regional solution to Afghanistan?

The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama plans to explore a more regional strategy to the war in Afghanistan — including possible talks with Iran.

The idea has been fashionable among foreign policy analysts for a while, as I have discussed in previous posts here and here. The aim would be to capitalise on Shi'ite Iran's traditional hostility to the hardline brand of Sunni Islam espoused by the Taliban and al Qaeda to seek its help in neighbouring Afghanistan. At the same time India would be encouraged to make peace with Pakistan over Kashmir to end a cause of tension that has underpinned the rise of Islamist militancy in Pakistan and left both countries vying for influence in Afghanistan.

Obama, McCain face rematch in Senate race

WASHINGTON – U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and his defeated Republican rival, John McCain, are engaged in somewhat of a rematch. The two are trying to help their respective parties win a razor-close U.S. Senate race in Georgia. 

McCain has accepted an invitation to attend a rally in Atlanta on Thursday for Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, while Obama aides are being dispatched to the state to provide a hand to Democratic challenger Jim Martin, a former state senator.

A Dec. 2 runoff is being held because neither Chambliss nor Martin obtained the majority required under state law in the Nov. 4 election to be declared the winner.

Biden smells “victory” in the air for Obama

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Just two days before the U.S. presidential election, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden smells victory for Barack Obama.

Speaking at Florida State University in Tallahassee, his first in a three-stop swing through the battleground state of Florida on Sunday, Biden pointed to a dramatic bronze statue entitled “Unconquered” outside the university’s stadium.

“This is a great place to have this rally in front of the ‘Seminole Unconquered’. I tell you, I don’t think you ever approach this stadium without smelling victory in the air,” Biden said. 

Obama has 19-point lead with early voters — Pew

DALLAS – According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has a 19-point lead over Republican rival John McCain among U.S. voters who have already cast their ballots.

The Pew poll, released on Tuesday, gels with other reports of a Democratic surge to the polls in states that allow early voting.

Obama holds a 53 percent to 34 percent lead among the sizable minority of voters (15 percent) who say they have already voted. Among those who plan to vote early but have not yet voted (16 percent of voters), 56 percent support Obama, while 37 percent support McCain,” Pew said.

McCain says he wants people to ‘get wealthy’

johnmc.jpgGREEN, Ohio – John McCain wants Americans to get rich.

That was the message from the Republican presidential hopeful Wednesday as he focused again on the differences in his tax proposals and those of Democratic rival Barack Obama.

The Arizona senator has hammered Obama in recent days for a philosophy of spreading Americans’ wealth around, articulated by the Illinois senator in a now famous exchange with an Ohio man dubbed Joe the Plumber.

McCain promised at an outdoor rally with an enthusiatic crowd he and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, would not make people or businesses send more money to the federal government.

Greek gods, a birthday billboard and other Denver nuggets

And the Obama campaign thought their biggest worry was getting the right mix of substance and style in tonight’s big speech. Not so much.

rtr21rli.jpgThe task now seems to be either: a) recapturing the attention of 15,000 journalists busy Googling the difference between Doric and Ionic columns, or b) attacking McCain’s lack of global experience because his campaign is mixing up the Romans and Greeks.
Someone should have put a primer on Classical Architecture and History in the DNC convention guide.

The controversy of course is the unveiling of preparations for Obama’s speech at Denver’s massive football stadium, Invesco Field, which has been transformed into what the McCain campaign has called “The Temple of Obama.”

Ever the writer, Obama took hands-on role in preparing big speech

DENVER – Democrat Barack Obama spent long hours crafting the speech in which he will make history by formally accepting his party’s presidential nomination.

The White House contender looked to past nominee acceptance speeches for ideas, including those of Bill Clinton in 1992, Ronald Reagan in 1980 and John F. Kennedy in 1960, according to Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod.

speak.jpgObama worked largely by himself on the first draft, writing it out long-hand on legal pads and then typing it into a computer for review by his top aides.

Obamanomics and the Federal Reserve

Barack Obama economic adviser Laura Tyson said at the Democratic National Convention on Monday that U.S. financial regulation needs modernizing, but hedged on how big a role to give the Federal Reserve.

Tyson, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Clinton administration, said she believes the Fed failed to crack down on subprime mortgage lending in recent years.

“What we have learned from the past two years … is that the old form of regulation is broken,” Tyson said.