The Rise of the Obamessiah.

Posted: February 13, 2009 in BCWYAF, Bible, Celebrating Diversity, Godwin's Law, Obama, Obamania, Politics, Racism, Religion

Throughout his ascendency to the presumptive nominee for President during the recent campaign, Obama, or perhaps more accurately, Obama’s crack media and PR machine, built a groundswell of enthusiasm which soon bordered on euphoria.  Through deft manipulation of images and soundbites, along with the willing collusion of the media, seasoned liberally with generous dashes of Bush-bashing, Barack Obama was propelled to almost rock-star status in a very short period of time.

He came from essentially nowhere…an ill-recognized first-term Senator with a mediocre voting record and no significant achievements to single him out from the crowd.  Suddenly, he was riding a wave of popularity and fervent adulation so broad, so deep, and so completely unexpected that it left many an observer stunned, bemused, and more than a little suspicious.  The meteoric rise to fame, especially one so completely at odds with anything in his background to justify such fervent devotion, lent more than one conservative commentator to draw parallels to the equally sudden and similarly inconceivable rise to national fame of an unkown corporal in 1930’s Germany.

The detractors on the political Left poo-poo’d such comparisons, invoked Godwin’s law, and surmised that after eight years of Pres. Bush’s “failed policies,” people were just refreshed by a fresh face and fresh ideas.   But’s it’s gone far beyond that now.  Has for quite a while in fact.

In a Jan. 21st CNN article entitled, “Black first family ‘changes everything’,” we see the Obamas painted as a sudden and convincing role model for black families, where before there were none.  Until now, it asserts, black families have been woefully misrepresented, or at best, suffered under their own, self-imposed mediocrity.

America has often viewed the black family through the prism of its pathologies: single-family homes, absentee fathers, out of wedlock children, they say. Or they’ve turned to the black family for comic relief in television shows such as “Good Times” in the ’70s or today’s “House of Payne.”

But a black first family changes that script, some say. A global audience will now be fed images of a highly educated, loving and photogenic black family living in the White House for the next four years — and it can’t go off the air like “The Cosby Show.”

The essence of this sentiment is apparently that, until now, black families have only risen to the level of that portrayed of them in the media. That they’ve suffered under a global stigma of poverty, broken homes, and eubonics.  Now, with this new, “positive” portrayal of a loving, solid, black nuclear family, black families are now free to strive for a greater standard.  Or something.

The relationship between Obama and his wife may help untangle some of that pathology, some black commentators say.

Because only now, now that the Obamas are, can decades of afro-american family dysfunction be truly addressed.

Several black women actually sighed as they talked about how much Obama seems to touch his wife and exchange soulful glances with her in public. They said Obama will show young black men how to treat women — and young black women how they should be treated.

Morgan Freeman couldn’t do it.  Bill Cosby couldn’t do it.  Scores of other black thinkers and philosophers who exhorted their culutral brethren to stay married, to turn away from drugs or gang violence, to build a strong self-identity that didn’t revolve around racial guilt or some nebulous “legacy” of slavery have now all been marginalized in favor of a new, true example for the black demographic to emulate.  Barack and Michelle Obama {{swoon}}.

Brea, the writer for EbonyJet.com, is the daughter of a white mother and a Haitian-American father. She says she felt pressure to claim one race growing up. She never quite felt like a full citizen.

Obama’s biracial background and his “exotic” upbringing relieves her of that pressure. Obama will help other blacks who come from multiracial backgrounds and immigrant communities to be comfortable in their own skin, she says.

Again, we see this strange sentiment at play such that only through the example and influence of Barack Obama can mixed-race Americans truly feel acccepted.  Nothing else has worked until now.  They struggled with their self-image and self-acceptance until BARACK came along.  Now it’s suddently “okay” to be black, or bi-racial, and you don’t have to feel like a second-class citizen anymore.

Again, in this fawning review of “Slumdog Millionaire” by the British Telegraph, every good and noble and refreshing element in the film is somehow tied to the new idealism which has sprung up around Barack Obama.

And in that single word {love} lie the key qualities of Slumdog Millionaire. It does not have an ironic moment. It is utterly devoid of cynicism. Instead, it is bright-eyed, optimistic – idealistic, even. To generations reared on a drip-feed of corrosive cynicism, the elevation of greed for greed’s sake and weary disillusion with our leaders and our institutions it feels almost shocking.

Yet maybe we’re ready for it. We saw these laudable qualities in the hundreds of thousands of people (most of them young) who toiled to elect Obama. Those whose work limits them to poring over the minutiae of life in Washington’s Beltway and the Westminster village have already been murmuring that this idealism looks like naïveté. Yet look where our defensive cynicism has landed us: maybe we do need to look at the world anew.

Next week, millions of Americans – and no doubt hundreds of thousands of Britons – will cluster around television sets to watch the inauguration of Barack Obama, whose election victory is rooted in the notion that while the world may be troubled, complex, and even ugly, our best instincts can help make it better. Slumdog Millionaire – a truly remarkable film – is rooted in that same idealism.

As Christians, we should be leery of such sentiments.  Putting all our faith in one man, depending on one man for our provision, our faith in the world, or emotional sustenance or our hope for the future is idolatry unless that man is Jesus Christ.  In Proverbs 3:5-6, we are told:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

The “He” in this passage is clearly God, not Barack Obama.  There is a very real and present danger in putting your faith and hope for your future and well-being in the hands of one man.  Not only does this give one man more power over your life than you should be willing to give up, but you will inevitably be disappointed when that man proves himself to be all too human.

The moment we give the man who is President the power to be our Savior, we elevate him beyong a mere elected official, and make him our spiritual stand-in.  We give him undo power to speak into and control our lives.  We credit his judgement to be superior to our own, his values worthy to supplant our own, his demands sufficient to supercede our desires.

The strange, almost reverent way in which many people seem to describe Barack Obama, the assumption of some implicit goodness and the idealistic fervor with which many seem to follow him suggests an almost cult-like obsession. 

A Cult can be defined as: “…any group of persons devoted to a charismatic leader(s) who changes their outlook and behavior by transmitting his/her values and views and perhaps a kind of “energy,” spiritual or otherwise. ” *  Hmmm.

Before you dismiss the “cult” label out of hand, first examine some of the “warning signs” of cult behavior:

  • Adherents who become increasingly dependent on the movement for their view on reality (!!!)
  • Important decisions in the lives of the adherents are made by others
  • Making sharp distinctions between us and them, divine and Satanic, good and evil, etc. that are not open for discussion (Bush evil, Obama gooood)*
  • The spiritual group uses a special set of rules that you must obey or be cast out (Oppose Obama?  RACIST!)*
  • The spiritual group demands that you give up as much of your assests and your yearly income to it as possible. (kinda funny, but not…”spreading the wealth around”)
  • The spiritual group demands that you accept its teachings without reservation, even when those teachings are in direct conflict with your understanding of basic scientific knowledge (global warming, stimulous package).
  • Provide an authority figure that everyone seems to acknowledge as having some special skill or awareness  (!!!)
  • Provide a philosophy that seems logical and appears to answer all or the most important questions in life
  • Promise instant or imminent solutions to deep or long-term problems (!!!)
  • The leader sets forth ethical guidelines members must follow but from which the leader is exempt (72 in the White House?  Sure….no prob.  I’ve got the carbon offsets to back it up)

Barack Obama is not the savior of this nation.  He is not the Moses who will lead us to a promised land, or a Savior who will redeem us from our collective national sins.  He is just a man.  One third of the triad making up our separation of powers.  To grant him any more power or authority – legal, spiritual, or otherwise – than that is to set ourselves on a very dangerous path towards the kind of oligarchical centralization of power so many accused George Bush of attempting, and against which our Founding Fathers spoke so stridently.

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Comments
  1. Carin says:

    Oh, no doubt people have elevated him to some lower God on earth.

    Thinking about how images influence society – can we now blame Oprah for encouraging to stay single? She didn’t need a man. I can only imagine [sarcasm] the profound effect this has had on black society.

    Yesterday, I was forced to watch a CNN interview with Colin Powell (I was at the gym, and had FINALLY gotten an elliptical machine – dang pre-spring break crowds.) It was hurl worthy. He blamed the fact that certain geographic areas voted for McCain at an 80% rate as proof that racism still exists.

    My head exploded.

  2. Kate says:

    I wish I could write as well as you.

    So many are so blind to the danger of BO & of making him their ‘savior’. This country is going to get the come-uppance it deserves if Americans don’t turn away from their sin & repent of it. Unfortunately, I don’t see repentence happening without some major discipline by God first.

    I find it interesting that no one looks to a white president as the role-model for family life or morals or values, yet the black community has set Obama in all of those roles.

    And, like you, I see BO’s influence as very cult-like. People “believe in him” despite not being able to explain WHY that is so. And even when faced with PROOF of the man’s dishonesty/unChristian behavior (support of abortion!!!), those people refuse to listen or alter their support. It’s scary how many people are “entranced” with BO and it’s those people who will continue to blame Bush for everything that BO messes up in the next 4 years (I pray there won’t be 8 years of him in the White House).

    (off-topic ~ I hope you’re doing all right and that your trip to the States has gone as smoothly as possible in light of the circumstances.)

  3. Christians seek to establish a Christian Kingdom on Earth with their Christian KING ruling over all of us on earth. No elections, no republic, just a Christian King, unelected, with global police enforcement and civilian spies.

    If only it was Obama that was the problem.

    Obama image worship? What about 2,009 years of believing a dead man is gonna rise up and take over the world? Geeze. How do you manage to tie your shoes? Oh that’s right, you wear sandals.

    No KIngs – No Masters – No Slaves,
    ~sj

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