John Bloom's picture
06.30.2008 | Comments(13)

What If He’s Really a Mormon?

The Faith of Barack Obama, supposedly a spiritual biography of the candidate, will be released by Thomas Nelson in August and looks to be a quickie cut-and-paste job by Stephen Mansfield, who also wrote The Faith of George W. Bush. The real test of the book’s accuracy will be whether he is able to give a nuanced description of Jeremiah Wright’s theology, which, thus far, the world has been deprived of. Barack Obama is not a Muslim, by the way. The New York Times reminds us of this at least once a week, thereby prolonging the life of the rumor that Barack Obama is a Muslim. There’s been a lot of talk recently about just exactly what Obama does believe, but one thing we know is that the candidate himself should never try to interpret the Bible. Obama Cross Every time it’s happened–see his version of the Sermon on the Mount in “Blessed Are the Swishy”–he’s just bolstered his image as, in the words of James Dobson, a “fruitcake.” The contretemps with Dobson came last week, and was full of scriptural duelling between the religious right and the religious left, with both sides claiming to be apolitical, and with Jim Wallis of Sojourners magazine invoking his superior knowledge of Obama theology because he was physically present at the Obama speech that irritated Dobson, then Baptist Press editor Will Hall weighing in against “former Marxist” Wallis by pointing out–fairly accurately–the ways in which Obama’s scriptural interpretations don’t pass muster. Obama himself offered yet another venture into Sermon on the Mount hermeneutics, but at the end of the day, you can’t hammer the religious right for using the Bible as a rulebook . . . by using it as a rulebook. Barack, you’re a smart guy, read some Karl Barth.

We Told You

Brain Glow

Katherine Rankin, a neurophysiologist at the University of California-San Francisco, has recently proven that our sarcasm here at The Door is a result of our finely developed parahippocampal gyrus in the right brain and benefits all mankind, and that Kenneth Copeland, among others, probably has a damaged parahippocampal gyrus so he probably won’t get it when we say we enjoy all his cowboy movies.

One More Nominee for the Flock-Fleecing Hall of Fame

Mundell Preaching

When you’ve watched as many Prosperity Gospel preachers as we have, there are certain code words that you recognize, and certain ways of preaching, and certain mannerisms and rhythms that are common to all of them, but my nominee for the Elmer Gantry Home Study Course would be Daniel S. Mundell, who preaches the purest form of it since Robert Tilton, and who has filed for bankruptcy twice after running through millions in donations, building then abandoning churches, and centering most of his efforts on South Florida, although he evangelizes all across the country, summoning God to create millionaires everywhere he goes. He’s a classic nickel-and-dimer, specializing in the $20 donation and the $300 credit-card pledge, and his latest reinvention of himself is in a Hallandale Beach, Florida, strip mall, where he made the mistake of drawing the attention of investigative reporter Sally Kestin, who works for the South Florida Sun Sentinel and got his ex-wife (and ex-co-pastor) to talk. Kimberly Mundell basically outlined the whole financial structure and how it works (with tips from our old friend and ex-con W.V. Grant of Dallas). Get down to the strip mall quickly, because Dan will probably be leaving town pretty soon now.

Deputized Baby-Snatcher Needed

Followers of Christ

Clackamas County, Oregon, has become the controversial hub of faith-healing practices in recent years after several children have died there, testing the limits of Oregon laws designed to force parents to seek medical help for minors even if their religious beliefs forbid it. The Followers of Christ Church in Oregon City, which had at least three infant deaths in the nineties, was back in the news in April when two parents were charged with manslaughter and criminal mistreatment after their 15-month-old daughter died of pneumonia and a blood infection when they tried to cure her with prayer alone. Now the D.A. is considering charges in another case out of the same church–a 16-year-old boy who died of uremic heart failure caused by a urinary tract infection which could have been fixed, according to the state medical examiner, with a simple catheter. In this case, the boy himself refused medical treatment. (In Judaism and most Christian churches, the boy would have been considered an adult, allowed to make his own decisions, at age 13 or 14, but in this case state law specifies 18 as the age of consent.) Local police also say they have long been frustrated by the practice of area Christians involved in car accidents who refuse to be taken to hospitals. My suggestion is that we send recently rehabbed born-again Dog the Bounty Hunter to Clackamas County, and every time they get one of these reports, send Dog over to the house to say, “I’m taking that baby, and on the way to the hospital we’ll all pray together.” Sometimes you need a bridge between the legal and the religious that’s not too much of either one.

Comments(13)

budda | 10:50 pm on 6/30/2008

Come on John, you defended the FLDS (fundy-mormons) and their parental rights, even when suspected of child/sexual abuse. You condemned the state when they went in to take the kids away from these parents until things could be sorted out.

Now your saying someone SHOULD go in and get these children out of their homes, against their parents wishes? Why the inconsistency? What is so different about these two cases?

David Williams | 08:36 am on 7/01/2008

Obama? Read Barth? Nah. Barth isn't his style. He strikes me as more of a Tillich reader.

But let me quibble here. You can use the Bible as a rulebook, and still hammer at fundamentalism for misusing it as a rulebook. It's a question of how you use it. Have you forgotten the Doctrine of Differential Authority?

http://weblog.xanga.com/Beloved_Spear/639512462/the-doctrine-of-differen...

If you have, that's fine, because I totally, like, made it up, but still...

JoshH | 12:48 pm on 7/01/2008

Very well said. Just about all of the Tillich people (and Buber people, for that matter) I know are into Obama.

Very nice, compact argument that you make against prooftexting, I might add.

DinkyDau Billy | 09:30 am on 7/01/2008

Oh c'mon now. Dobson isn't even a pastor; he's a child psychologist, and not a very good one at that. He has a nasty mouth on him, too. "Fruitcake"? Is that really the best he can do? He's another version of Ann Coulter, another "conservative" with a middle-school mouth and mindset.

The Faith of Barack Obama | 09:39 am on 7/01/2008

I'm really looking forward to reading this book! Mr. Mansfield seems to have captured the true Barack Obama, and his unbiased, fair analysis should be a superb read.

Catarina | 09:48 am on 7/01/2008

I used to have a parahippocampal gyrus but the wheels fell off.... really!

JoshH | 01:00 pm on 7/01/2008

John, I'll beg to differ with you on most of your points on Obama. Then again, I probably read too much Bayard Rustin, Elias Hicks, and Rufus Jones for your tastes.

(I also probably like Flanders & Swann too much, too)

TheDonQuixotic | 05:23 pm on 7/01/2008

I have said it once and I will say it again. Religion is not the answer. Religion is ritual. We should follow Christ not because of the traditions handed down for 2000 years but because it is true. That God is a real fact is more important than tradition. I don't know about John McCain but I can say with good certainty that Obama is religious. And merely religious. I can't know the man's inner mind or heart, but from what I see he is a politician through and through.

budda | 08:13 pm on 7/01/2008

Not directing this totally at you Don, but I just had someone else tell me how "it isn't religion it is relationship", and then used religion to try and define how my relationship with God should be. I get so tired of that. If it is just relationship, then God and I can have any relationship we want. If it is religion then I have some rules to follow. Which is it?

dorsey | 08:13 am on 7/04/2008

budda, religion is a tougher habit to kick than cocaine (trust me on this). Even when you "get it" about relationship, the impulse is to conform to another set of rules to demonstrate that you're all about relationship. Reminds me of the scripture about a dog returning to its vomit.

It's not that there are no rules. There are two: 1) Love God, and 2) Love your neighbor. Everyone who would have you believe that there are more are just trying to look more righteous than you. Screw them (in love, of course). : )

Mark | 10:44 am on 7/02/2008

Every time I plop myself down in the pilot's seat and turn on the main buss, I can hear the parahippocampal gyrus spool up. Actually, there are two of those little spinners (redundancy, you know) that keep me apprised of my true direction when the magnetic compass is thrown off by quirks in the force. (It's embarrassing to call for landing clearance at an airport just East of where you thought you were.)

Yup, True North, Due North, and Magnetic North. That would be analogous to: The Law, The Letter of the Law, and What the World Would like us to Believe.

Keep your gyrus spooled up and your wings level.

kjml | 06:05 pm on 7/03/2008

Can we send Dog after Obama? Maybe he can get a straight answer out of him.

rufus | 10:19 am on 7/17/2008

Sorry, but your title is a total mismatch with your story. You didn't even make a correlation to Mormons in the story...so what's the point?

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