The New President-Elect

kinnon —  November 5, 2008 — 10 Comments

A part of me is well pleased that the US has elected it's first African American president. And another part of me is profoundly concerned that President-Elect Barack Obama will follow through on promises made to folk like Planned Parenthood. This is a time for Christians to pray for the new leader of the declining Empire of the United States and to, as best as we can, speak with one voice against those particular issues where there is such strong disagreement – and I again refer to the FOCA.

As a citizen of a nation whose life is closely intertwined with that of the USA, I commit to pray for the new president and his family on a daily basis. I hope and pray that the dreams so many have placed in him will turn out to be justified. I will also pray that we Christians will find a less partisan way to engage in the political process – a via media perhaps.

I've read lots of gracious comments this morning from those Christians who were in the McCain camp as well as those in the Obama camp. I confess, however, that I found this comment particularly graceless, from a member of the Obama camp I have previously experienced as grace-filled (though not through this election cycle.)

Thanks to everyone who had the courage to vote for change over entrenchment, hope over fear, diversity over homogeneity, and reconciliation over division.

UPDATE: Read the InternetMonk's post. And Justin Taylor's, as well.

UPDATE 2: Brian McLaren digs his divisive hole deeper with his Response from Friends. As I know that he's received responses from other friends who graciously hold a contrarian opinion to his own, Brian seems to hold fast to his opinion of those folk who did not vote for President-Elect Barack Obama are backwards racists. I'm stunned – but perhaps that's to be expected.

UPDATE 3: Brian apologizes here,

…a few people interpreted my thank you note here … as an insult to all people who voted for McCain. I'm so sorry for giving this impression. I keep trying to figure out how I could have worded this differently to avoid offense. Please be assured, I believe that many people voted for McCain for reasons that had nothing to do with entrenchment, fear, homogeneity, and division. I simply wanted to thank everyone who voted for Senator Obama for reasons of hope, diversity, and unity. Thanks for understanding.

I'll cut Brian a little slack in that perhaps his exuberance got way too far out in front of his editing. However, I'd say many of us (rather than "a few") read Brian as so "in the tank" for Obama during the campaign that his statement was read within that context. After all, his undergrad and Master's degrees are in English.



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

10 responses to The New President-Elect

  1. Bill,

    What exactly about this statement do you find graceless:

    change over entrenchment, hope over fear, diversity over homogeneity, and reconciliation over division

    The contrast was stunning last night between the gracious speech John McCain made last night and the nasty, divisive campaign he ran with Steve Schmidt and Rick Davis these last few months.

    Reading McLaren’s note – where were you able to sense a suggestion of people not voting for Obama being backwards racists ?

    And can we expect some comment on the sad sick message that folks like Dobson

    link to

    and Strang
    link to

    made during this cycle.

  2. Hi Bill,
    I’m a outsider, but I have to tell you that Obama never ran against McCain. He ran against Bush. McCain had a chance if Bush was not the Republican leader before him.

    Bush did a hell of a lot damage to christianity in the rest of the world. I think Brian McClaren knows this. In the United States christians tend to be comfortable and absorb the blows of the leader’s descisions. Not so for us outside. If he makes war in Irak and the oil prices goes up because of that, we have people losing their lives. More people go hungry. Basically the man who represents christianity is making our lives worse. But I guess that’s is OK.

    The same people that endorsed Bush, also endorsed McCain. In the eyes of the world, McCain represents more of the same. I do not always agree with Brian McLaren, but he has a pretty good idea what happens in the rest of the world and it would have been near fatal for christianity to have a leader that gives the world the same as the previous one.

    Of course, I can be wrong 🙂

  3. Bill,
    I have been stunned by how many people who disparaged Bush, and made no plea to “work together” under that administration, are now calling on the likes of me to fall in line, don’t worry be happy, pray for Obama and “unify”…on and on… as though popularity were the measure of reason when it comes to deciding who one ought to align one’s self with.
    But I remain in disagreement philosophically and I strongly disagree with Obama’s positions on many issues. I can, and will, pray for our leaders: but I am not a post-modern. I don’t believe truth is something decided on by a majority in the community. I remain respectfully opposed philosophically, and quietly wary. I maintain there are probably surprises to come for those who heard something in Obama’s speeches that they resonated with.

    The rift that opened up in the Christian community, after McLaren’s books made the rounds, was only cultivated further and widened during this election. Something to reflect on.

  4. Bob –

    Obviously I don’t speak for Bill, but what I personally found graceless about the “hope over fear” statement was the intimation that anyone who opposed Obama did so out of fear, or entrenchment, or a desire for homogeneity, or division. It seems to deny the possibility that people may have had reasons for their contrary vote that had nothing to do with intolerance or negativity, but rather fundamentally differing philosophies regarding the role of government or the basis and nature of morality.

    Likewise, McLaren’s commentary following his British friend’s quote suggests that he places believers into two polarized groups: either those who will embrace the Emergent movement, or those “sad, fading, feuding, fun-free fundamentalists” who hold to a more orthodox Christianity. He neither endorses nor criticizes his British friend’s conclusions (that this vote says something disparaging about the state of the Church), but these comments suggest that he is sympathetic to them.

    It’s entirely possible I’m reading condescension and divisiveness into statements that were not meant to be so. It may be that the British commentator was trying to ask a legitimate question rather than using rhetorical language. However, in conversations I’ve been having with my pro-Obama/anti-Prop 8 (re: gay marriage) friends about the elections here in California, I have yet to hear a statement or argument from them that didn’t immediately assume the worst of me – that I must be a hateful, intolerant bigot, and that there could be no other possible alternative explanation for my stance or complexity to my reasoning.

    I sincerely want to believe President-Elect Obama when he spoke in his acceptance speech about listening to his opponents and trying to prove himself to us, but given the conversations I’ve had with his supporters thus far, I can’t help but be deeply skeptical that there will be any attempts at “reconciliation over division.”

  5. Devin,

    One of the things that I find most fascinating is how much respect Obama has for his opponents – even in the face of attacks that make most common folks sick to the stomach.

    I understand your skepticism after the last 30 years of politics – from the demonization of Jimmy Carter thru the Reagan era of have/have nots to the Clinton haze of ambiguity & dishonesty to the Bush years (arguably the worst Presidency in the modern era).

    No President will lead us out of this – moral leaders must take up the mantle. My hope is that the kind of default setting to parsing, distrust & snarkiness might one day be reset.

  6. Bob C

    You must have been watching the election coverage on MSNBC…

  7. it’s actually you assume that, j

    i watched bbc america, fox and msnbc

    i’ve also worked at newscorp

    and just to confuse you totally

    zondervan/ys is publishing a book a friend & I wrote on obama:

    link to

  8. Bill

    Thanks, as always, for your thoughtfulness. I think part of the problem is we Americans don’t know much about discussing, other than to think that means we must run to opposite poles and lob our rhetoric at one another. It’s hard to have a meaningful conversation when the only categories are “us” and “them.”

    It saddens me that the American Christian community, in large part, is no different.


  9. First, let me apologize for being absent from this discussion. I’ve spent most of the last ten days dealing with a rapidly declining mother. I have wanted to engage but have not had the time nor energy.

    The verse that jumped out at me this morning is “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

    First, nowhere @ will you find me supporting the McCain/Palin team. Don’t conflate my concerns with President Elect Obama’s positions, with supposed support of the nonsense emanating from Strang/Dobson et al.

    However, in spite of all the news services you’ve followed, you more than suggest (in the blog world, on Twitter and on Facebook) that Obama and his team were on the side of angels and McCain on the side of the “enemy”. You took great delight, Bob, on Twitter and Facebook at anything that made the “other side” look stupid. But were strangely silent when Obama’s campaign and surrogates viciously attacked their opponents. (Let me be pedantic, as I’m afraid you will read this as support for McCain – both sides spent significant time in the mud – to not recognize that is to choose to be blind or to simply be disingenuous. Obama was able to appear above the fray, whilst his surrogates did their work – and, those surrogates included much of the Main Stream Media – note the WaPo’s admission today.)

    As you may know, if you’ve read elsewhere here, Bob – I spent significant time working on Canadian campaigns for the Liberal party. I know the red meat, blood lust nature of this perverse team sport. I’ve assisted party leaders in creating talking points that skewer the other side – often based on the flimsiest of facts. Neither side in this past American election avoided this.

    All this to say that my primary concern in McLaren’s response was that, as Obama reached out to be President of all the US in his acceptance speech, Brian was continuing to write polarizing rhetoric that demonized one side. Not at all what I would have expected from him – only proving I know him less well than I thought I did.

    Thank you for being more eloquent than me.

    Those on the right must ensure that they don’t begin to suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome – the corollary disease to the Bush Derangement Syndrome so common on the left. Christians must pursue a via media as I believe Pastor James Howell said so eloquently – standing firm on issues (like abortion and the FOCA) whilst being unwilling to demonize the other side. A middle way does not suggest (at least to me), middle of the road. Howell:

    The Church drifts into absurd irrelevance if we do nothing more than baptize one or the other of the prevalent options society has dreamed up. We have our own perspective, which at times seems in sync with this or that policy – but then Bam! …we surprise everybody with a wrinkle, a twist. We are not middle of the road, although when we are most faithful to God we are likely to annoy (and occasionally to please) liberals and conservatives in equal measure.

    As one who loves your home country passionately (which I believe is SA), and has spent close to a year in total in a number of African countries since 1996 – I actually believe that whomever is president of the US has little impact on the vibrancy of Christianity. America could disappear tomorrow, taking Canada along with it – and Christianity would thrive. In fact, from an historical perspective, Christianity has always grown the most in times of persecution. It is the way of the Spirit, I guess.

    You are one of my heroes. And I can’t wait to enjoy one of your amazing meals (and actually meet in the flesh). For Christians to allow politics to divide us into separate camps only shows the shallowness of our faith. We may, in fact, must discuss issues thoroughly and passionately – but, in the end, recognize that there is no “them.” Or, to quote Pogo, “we have seen the enemy, and he is us.”

  10. bill

    i ache for the pogo quote you cite

    i wonder if your own complicit nature in playing games with politics is coloring your POV

    this is really beneath you, bill:

    Brian was continuing to write polarizing rhetoric that demonized one side.

    p.s. – congrats on the great work your kids are up to


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