As has already been mentioned on this blog a couple of times, Senator Barack Obama gave a speech at the Call to Renewal conference a couple of weeks back. I have very much enjoyed reading his speech a number of times since then. Simply brilliant. I could relate on a personal level to his experience in having his faith challenged by conservative elements (in his case, senatorial challenger Alan Keyes). I relished the phrase he used (one which I gather from some quick research originated from Pope John Paul) to describe what I had called “the glorification or worship of capitalism”: the idolatry of the free market. The speech was a very profound exploration of the way religion should shape our discourse on the public sphere, as well as how we stand by our religious values in a religiously pluralist society like the U.S. He provides keen insights on standing up for our faith with our words and beliefs while still warning against the superficial professions I criticized in a previous entry.
He addressed issues I have myself found rather frustrating. I am drawn to the liberal ideology because of my religious faith. And yet, all too often, religious faith and language has been avoided, downplayed, or even derided by many advocates of the Left. Granted, the Religious Right has given Liberals ample reason to be suspicious of religious action. And the derision is greatly exaggerated in the hysterics of conservative pundits. That exaggeration notwithstanding, the derision does occur, and can make religious people like myself uncomfortable allying ourselves with the Left. That has very much played into the hands of the Right. It has allowed them to be very successful in deceitfully and wrongly portraying liberalism as anathema to religion.
This is a primary reason I started this blog; to show very clearly and pointedly that the Right’s characterization of the Left is wrong, and that liberalism is very much in line with religion, the LDS religion in particular. And I am very much enthused to hear such spiritual people as Michael Lerner, Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Bishop Carolyn Tanner, Senator Dennis Kucinich, and Senator Barack Obama stand up and demand both that the liberal respect our religiosity and that the religious respect our liberalism.
Obama made another crucial point about being fair-minded about those who differ. This is an important thing to consider for people of all political stripes. I’m sure I’ve been an offender in this regard a fair number of times. I am a very passionate person, an admirer of the strength and passion of such firebrands as John Adams, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ralph Nader. It is something of which I must be careful.
But the need to be fair-minded does not obviate the need for honesty. When public officials have proven themselves to be dishonest or to have broken the public trust by their words or actions, we are certainly justified in calling attention to that fact. The Savior was as fair-minded as can be, and yet he had no qualms in calling the supposed religious leaders of his day “hypocrites and “vipers (Matt 23).” We should be fair, but also recognize truth.