"The Faith of Barack Obama"...my review

I have finally finished reading this book by Stephen Mansfield. It was provided to me by the good folks at Thomas Nelson, and I want them to know I appreciate the opportunity to give my thoughts and comments about it. I also appreciate their patience as I wanted to read this book thoughtfully and thoroughly before commenting. With that said, here goes!

Prior to reading this book, I had a lot of questions about Barack Obama. What knowledge of Obama I had was what had been filtered down to me from friends, colleagues, and the media. Was he or wasn't he a Muslim? Is he or isn't he a born-again Christian? What are his beliefs, and how do they shape his politics and worldview? Why was his pastor in the news so much? After reading Mansfield's manuscript, I feel like my questions were thoroughly answered.

What I appreciated most about Mansfield's approach was his dedication to portraying the faith of Obama without any hint of bias or prejudice. While Obama's public statements of faith compared with his voting record often elucidates criticism, Mansfield refrains from doing so. Neither will you see any glimpse of Mansfield's own personal opinions about Obama's faith and political ideology. This, in my opinion, adds tremendous credibility to Mansfield as an author, and I applaud his integrity.

Mansfield skillfully paints a picture of how Obama's upbringing, education, and career path helped shape his faith and politics. For to truly understand the man, you must first understand what and/or who helped shape that man. Obama's life is a kaleidoscope of influences and experiences. He is a child of mixed races; his mother was caucasian American and his father was a Kenyan. While his mother was an atheist, his father and step-father were Islamic. His childhood was spent primarily outside the continental United States in Hawaii, which had just achieved statehood, and the Islamic-majority country of Indonesia. Heading into his college years, Mansfield reveals Obama was lonely and empty. Being "different" from his peers growing up left him wondering "Who am I?" and "Where do I belong in this world?"

Finally, Mansfield details how Obama came to have a relationship with Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He spends a great deal of time ellaborating how Obama's occupation as a community organizer led him to attend Trinity United Church of Christ under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. It was under Wright's tutelage, that Obama came to a decision of faith in Jesus Christ. Mansfield steered well clear from type-casting Obama's faith. However, he did objectively describe the "black theology" espoused by Rev. Wright from the pulpit. Undoubtedly liberal and in many points heretical, Rev. Wright's theology helped shape Obama's young and growing faith for some twenty years. Despite being controversial from the pulpit, Wright has led Trinity to become an instrument of social outreach and ministry in the Chicago community. Without a doubt, Obama's faith was created, molded and empowered from his association with Trinity and the Rev. Wright. It is this faith that Obama unashamedly claims guides his every political decision.

Overrall, "The Faith of Barack Obama" is a very good book. It is well written. It is very apparent Mansfield did his homework and was thorough in his interviews. I would certainly recommend anyone wishing to have a better understanding of who Barack Obama is "behind closed doors" to read this book.


JC said...

I read and reviewed this book on my blog this week.

I've been criticized pretty heavily for reading it, hope you don't get the same! And I'm with you on the review, it's as unbiased as humanely possible! I can't say it makes me want to vote for Obama, but it sure makes it interesting to see how his religious history have shaped his life.

Kyle P. said...

Hey Cliffster - got some heat did ya? Not too much over here...yet! It definitely opened my eyes to the teachings of Jeremiah Wright, and what kind of influence they may have had on Obama. That's some messed up stuff!

Lauren said...

love the new layout!

jimmy paravane said...

I think most Okies have a problem with just the phrase "black theology". What? Is it suppose to be better or something? Or does it just mean different, which is another kind of "bad" altogether. (grin)