I wondered if I even should do a post on Saddleback’s presidential interview. I was rather underwhelmed. However, if I were to write a review, it would look an awful lot like the Luther Zephyr’s post on it. He begins his ending with:
In contrast to McCain’s bellicose response – Evil = Al Qaeda, the remedy for which is more war – Senator Obama offers a much more nuanced, a much broader, a much more theologically articulate understanding of evil. Evil exists, according to Obama, overseas and at home, on our streets and in our homes, in unjust wars and even hidden in our own well-intentioned response to injustice.
Ask yourself this question – is evil limited to Al Qaeda? Of course not. Evil is much more expansive than a single terrorist enemy. Obama understands this. McCain does not. Obama knows that are all sinners, that all capable of evil – even we in this country. But for McCain, the world is a bit simpler, a bit more black-and-white – we’re the poor victims of an overseas evil, period.
Obama also appropriately places the task of ridding the world of evil in God’s hands: “We are not going to, as individuals, be able to erase evil from the world. That is God’s task.” (Note: no applause from the Saddleback faithful in response to this theologically correct answer. They cheer on McCain, the would-be macho Messiah, but they simply sit politely and quietly as Obama gives God the glory). McCain offered fighting words, whereas Obama offered words of faith.
His juxtaposition is well done. McCain’s understanding of “the fight between good and evil” and that these wars “are fights against evil” certainly does scare me from a theological point of view. However, as much as McCain is over-the-top, both McCain and Obama call themselves Niebuhrians, and the realist that Niebhur was, installed Christianity into a form of violent pragmatism that served the state, and even arguably replaced the church with the state. Obama, is certainly less simplistic and I think more honest, however, when he says evil is in God’s hands, he means perhaps something different than we assume. Or at least that our involvement with or against evil may still be rather close to what it is now. But, at least he doesn’t have a Messiah complex, seems to identify evil better, and is someone I actually like to engage with. Another Bush in the White House would be a disaster.
Also, I am far too proud of my title for this post. It works on so many levels, and reminds me of this video from Family Guy. Unfortunately, the actual video is taken down for copyright infringement, so someone used a machinima technique to illustrate the visual part: