Monday, June 2, 2008

Confidence Games and Candor

Barack Obama swerves dangerously close to intellectual honesty in a subject where that sort of thing just isn't done when announcing his departure from his former church. He frankly acknowledges that god-belief is a frame of reference and a set of rituals through which he can do and think whatever he wanted to do and think anyway and attach the ribbon of god's favor to it:

[W]hat I want to do in church is I want to be able to take Michelle and my girls, sit in a pew quietly, hopefully get some nice music, some good reflection, praise God, thank Him for all of the blessings He has given our family, put some money in the collection plate, maybe afterwards go out and grab some brunch, have my girls go to Sunday school. That’s what I am looking for.
This god demands almost nothing and doesn't freight the believer with any difficult choices. It should be noted that Obama finds it necessary to praise this god of the smiling happy face because Americans themselves believe so strongly in that same god, and are thrown into a fit of pique whenever a close reading of god's will asks them to think anew, reform their habits, or engage a difficult quandary.

The transgressions of pastors Hagee and Wright are the same: they've made Americans uncomfortable, and that's unforgivable. God is only supposed to speak down to others. Like a Santa Claus that dares to say a child has been naughty rather than nice, this god needs to pack up his flying reindeer and false beard and get the hell out of the shopping mall.

The home of the brave bumper sticker and land of the free Wal-Mart parking lot doesn't take guff from god or god's lieutenants -- choosy consumers by birth and birthright, Americans will not hesitate to take their tithes to the next church down the block, and keep doing so until god's priorities, fashion sense, and viewing habits match their own.

So the confidence game is played, but Obama is crazy if he thinks he can speak candidly and still play it.

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