Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Obama's Time Management Issues

President Obama did not participate in the National Day of Prayer. Okay. I don't like it but would have been more understanding if he had failed to participate in other religious activities. However, he has found time to have a Ramadan dinner at the White House. Makes me think his father influenced him more than he lets on. Here's the video.


Jon said...

Were I President of the United States, I probably would have chosen to do things slightly differently. I'm not a fan of pluralism, at least not in the sense that you take the best of all faiths and make one super-religion. On the other hand, were I invited to a Ramadan dinner or a Passover dinner, I would most certainly go (though admittedly, there is a difference between hosting a dinner and going to a dinner). However, I think there are a couple notes of clarification that are necessary.

-Like all presidents since Truman, Obama signed a declaration of a national day of prayer
-Like all presidents since Truman (except Bush 2), Obama did not participate in formal NDOP White House activities
-Obama is certainly not the first president to recognize Ramadan. Clinton did as well. Remember, we do not live in a theocracy, so it is within reason to recognize other faiths with respect, even if you disagree with them.
-There are few accurate statistics on Islam in the United States, but it is undoubtedly one of the fastest-growing religions in the country. As it becomes more prominent, the president will have to represent his Muslim constituents more and more.
-President Obama seems to want to leave a legacy in the Middle East that contrasts sharply with President Bush's. Acknowledging Islam as a major religion in the United States is perhaps an important step towards rapprochement with Middle Eastern countries.

All points except the last one are facts (and part of the penultimate one). The last one and a half are simply an analysis of the current situation. Naturally, like you, I have presented the facts in a biased way. However, I think when you analyze the Obama administration's actions, you have to do it in a way that is consistent with the current culture, the historical context, and the novelty (or lack thereof) of his actions--and not just with the Bush administration.

In light of all this, I think it raises an important question: how does one balance one's faith while still being respectful of other faiths in a multi-cultural society like our own?

Alisa said...

You are glossy over the fact that by presidential standards, Obama barely acknowledge NDOP and yet he HOSTS a Ramadan dinner. This isn't balance. He showed respect to the Muslims and, at best, indifference to the Christians.

Please do not see my comments in the context of the Bush administration. As I have told you repeatedly, I am not a Bush apologist, nor am I a GOP apologist for that matter.

As for his legacy in the Middle East, appeasement has a long history of failure, Jon.

As a Christian, I will stand firmly for and on my beliefs and will maintain Christian principles to the best of my ability. This in no way precludes respect for other religions. Just as you can respect someone with whom you stridently disagree politically, so I can respect a Muslim adherent while rejecting his faith.

Than being said, ideas have consequences. The Muslim worldview has not produced cultures I find on par with Western civilizations even acknowledging all the pitfalls and shortcomings thereof.

Frankly, in light of the self-described communists, marxists and socialists Obama has appointed in his administration (I will be happy to provide you links) I am more than a little surprised that you continued to be his apologist.

Jon said...

Sorry you read the comment the wrong way--I was simply trying to point out that we've gone from the most openly evangelical Christian president in our history to one who is much more subdued about his faith, and that's bound to create contrasts that we may find undesirable. That's why I made those points.

I'm not an advocate of appeasement either, per se (though I think such strategies can have success in certain contexts). I just said that rapprochement with the Middle East seems to be the policy of the Obama era, which will mean stronger ties with Muslims. I wasn't making a judgment on the quality of his actions--simply explaining why they're there.

I agree with your statement 100%: "As a Christian, I will stand firmly for and on my beliefs and will maintain Christian principles to the best of my ability. This in no way precludes respect for other religions. Just as you can respect someone with whom you stridently disagree politically, so I can respect a Muslim adherent while rejecting his faith." One of my Sunday School teachers said something along the same lines: "The gospel is offensive enough without us adding to the offense." However, I've found that very, very difficult to live by (which goes back to the central question I've asked you ;-)). Invariably I'll go too far to one side or the other in an effort to live peacefully with the people around me (and since I live predominantly among non-Christians, it's probably obvious which side I stray too much on).

With regards to Islam, I have a lot to say about it which I won't say here. Suffice it to say (for now) that Islam is at its worse when (like Christianity has been) it is used as a tool to political power. Islam was at its best when Christians were doing the same thing. Arabs were preserving the books Europeans were burning and inventing algebra and making advances in medicine long before the Renaissance.

As you are not a GOP or Bush apologist, I'm not an Obama apologist (I obviously really want him to succeed, but quite frankly he's well on his way to doing just the opposite). It's easy to make "facts" say whatever you want, but before making a judgment you have to examine all the facts, because rarely are things so black and white that they clearly support a single conclusion. Clearly, I ought to listen to myself more often!!

Alisa said...

It is a fine line to walk re: friendship with nonbelievers (or believers with whom you have vast differences). There are times when in standing for biblical principles one will be offensive because of the Gospel. My Mom is a great example to me: She worked with a gay guy and whenever they talked she didn't hesitate to confirm she thought his lifestyle was sin. However when he was dying of AIDS, it was my Mom who was there visiting him and checking on him. That kind of love gives you the right to say hard things.

Small quibble - Arab designates race, Muslim designates religion. There are Arab Christians who have impacted that region with the Christian worldview. (Daniel in Persia, etc)