The Faith of Barack Obama

A few weeks ago, I received a review copy of The Faith of Barack Obama. It is a short book, around 150 pages, and written in a light breezy style, so I figured I would get through it very quickly and get my post up reviewing the book done well before Saddleback or Denver.

However, while it is a quick read, it is also an enjoyable read, so I’ve stretched it out, savoring the experience. Today, the convention begins, so I figured I’d better get this finished.

First, I should give a little back background. The author, Stephen Mansfield lived in Texas before moving to Tennessee and wrote a book, The Faith of George W. Bush. With that, I feared that his religious and political viewpoints might be a bit more conservative than my own. If they are, it is not obvious, and certainly isn’t an impediment to enjoying the book.

Instead, Mansfield starts off by observing Sen. Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, where he stated, “We worship an awesome God in the Blue States”. He talks about the changes going on in religion and politics, liberals reclaiming their religious beliefs and chaos amongst various conservative leaning ministers.

With this as a background, Mr. Mansfield traces Sen. Obama’s religious journey, exploring what it was like to be brought up by an atheist, married to a Muslim and attending a Catholic school in Indonesia. He talks about Sen. Obama’s organizing in Chicago and the interactions with the black churches there. He explores black liberation theology. All of this providing grist for Sen. Obama as he works out his salvation with fear and trembling.

Even if you aren’t interested in what has helped form the faith of Barack Obama, the book is worth reading, simply as a well-written biography.

How will this fit with the stories that we will hear about Sen. Obama during the convention? It is hard to say. My sense is that it will supplement it nicely. I enjoyed reading the book. I think people who read this site are likely to as well. If you’ve read it, or have some other good books you would like to recommend, please let me know.

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