In 2004, Chicago Sun-Times religion writer Cathleen Falsani interviewed freshman state legislator Barack Obama about his spiritual beliefs. Earlier this year, she republished the entire interview on her blog. Here are a few paragraphs from that interview [pulled selectively]:
"I’m rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there’s an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived."
"I’m not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I’ve got a monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others."
"I’m a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it’s best comes with a big dose of doubt. I’m suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding."
"The most powerful political moments for me come when I feel like my actions are aligned with a certain truth. I can feel it. When I’m talking to a group and I’m saying something truthful, I can feel a power that comes out of those statements that is different than when I’m just being glib or clever.
I think there is an enormous danger on the part of public figures to rationalize or justify their actions by claiming God’s mandate."
"I think there is this tendency that I don’t think is healthy for public figures to wear religion on their sleeve as a means to insulate themselves from criticism, or dialogue with people who disagree with them."
"What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing."
For all the sturm and drang –and endless showing of a couple of video clips– surrounding the Reverend Wright… I don’t even know what to call it… issue? We learned precious little about Senator Obama’s faith and spirituality. This blog post offers a useful insight.