The Democratic National Convention started today in Denver, Colorado, and it is no doubt that the nominee of the party for President will be Senator Barack Obama. With that nomination, and even before, come the questions of who is this man, what does he believe in, and where does he stand? As our nation has struggled through the recent hardships of 9-1-1, the Iraq war, and turmoils in our local communities, we are increasingly looking beyond the superficial appearances of our politicians to their core beliefs and values. We are, as a nation, more and more interested in what drives out leaders and makes them tick.
The Faith Of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield seeks to help the reader find some of those answers. The book does not make a judgement call on who Americans should elect as their next president. Instead the author, by explaining Obama’s upbringing and influences, strives to show what it is that forms Obama’s beliefs and how that drives his thought process. The book also pulls no punches. On complicated issues such as abortion and the various laws legislating around the issue, Mansfield clearly points out where Obama has logical struggles and at times has mis-stepped his ideals. But again, the strength of this work is that it offers up the facts on those issues and lets the reader form their own opinion.
In addition to detailing the influences that have gone into the Barack Obama’s faith, Mansfield also gives attention to three of the other main characters in this election – Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and George W. Bush. Not only does this help to give a foot in the door for exploring those dynamic individuals, but it also helps to compare and contrast the cast of players. It is made clear that there are more than years of difference in this election, there are also differences of education, social influence, and how their faith was obtained. Revelation versus inheritance versus personal exploration are depicted as paths that help to form the destination.
This book is timely not only in terms of the election and the conventions, but also in terms of where we are currently in US politics. We are seeing, across the board, Republican or Democrat, a renewed interest in values and what goes into a person to form those values. Those values, that faith, is important to the American people and to the world. How our President puts his personal values into action in the world is important to determining how we interact with the world and where this country will be in years to come. Well written, timely, and well researched, this should be considered a must read for anyone on either side of the election interested in learning more about the candidates.