An Intellectual President: What Barack Obama Reads, and Has Read, Over His Lifetime

Given Rush Limbaugh’s rather scurrilous attempts to paint Obama as someone stupid and shallow, I thought it might be important to revisit the issue of Obama’s reading habits as an adult, and what those habits say about him.

Back in July, Laura Miller at Salon.com had an extensive essay on Barack Obama’s literary influences. I went through the entire essay and share below all the books and authors that she mentions as contributors to the shaping of Obama. Obviously, the list is partial. Miller describes Obama as a devourer of books, and that means that Obama has gleaned insights from thousands of books over his lifetime. As a young man in Chicago, for example, Obama characteristically spent:

many hours holed up in a spartan apartment with volumes of ‘philosophy and literature.’

In any case, here’s the list of the 19 authors and books Miller mentions:

History:

  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (Doris Kearns Goodwin)
  • Parting the Waters (Taylor Branch)

Money quote on Obama’s history reading:

[W]hen we turn to the book Obama has most recently cited as a major influence, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” it’s not the Lincoln of popular American myth — the secular saint and martyr — we find praised there. It’s Lincoln the wily politician, who was not above carefully hedging his public positions and who prided himself on cajoling his opponents to his side.

Philosophy:

  • Friedrich Nietzsche

Money quote on Obama and Nietzsche:

Obama . . . went through a period of “devouring” the work of Nietzsche while living in New York. It’s difficult to say what Obama might have absorbed from the German philosopher, mostly because Nietzsche himself is so hard to pin down, but one of Obama’s favorite instructors at Occidental told Mendell that anyone who immersed themselves in his thought would learn “to call everything into question.”

Theology:

  • Reinhold Niebuhr. Specifically mentioned is his 1932 classic Moral Man and Immoral Society.

Money quote on Obama and Niebuhr:

Obama told Brooks that what he’d taken from Niebuhr is “the compelling idea that there’s serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away … the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard, and not swinging from naive idealism to bitter realism.”

Plays:

  • Shakespeare

Speeches:

  • Abraham Lincoln

Adolescent Interest:

  • Malcolm X

Money quote on Obama and Malcolm X:

According to “Dreams From My Father,” among the characters in African-American literature, the adolescent Obama felt closest to Malcolm X, whose discipline and “repeated acts of self-creation” impressed him. Yet, when Malcolm wrote of the desire to “expunge” the white blood in his veins, Obama “was left to wonder what else I would be severing if and when I left my mother and my grandparents on some uncharted border.”

Progressive Politics:

  • Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals(Saul Alinsky 1971).

Money quote on Obama and Alinsky:

[Obama] has read “Rules for Radicals,” according to his campaign; it would be hard to find any thoughtful community organizer who hasn’t. Hillary Clinton’s senior honors thesis at Wellesley College was on “the Alinsky model,” although after her husband’s election to the presidency, his administration tried to keep it under wraps for fear that it would make her appear too much the firebrand.

If you haven’t read “Rules for Radicals,” it’s not what you might expect. Written with a vigor and a panache that amply convey Alinsky’s legendary charisma, it is less a primer than a concise, witty and iconoclastic manifesto crossed with a war manual à la Sun Tzu. Alinsky wrote it to correct what he viewed as the many fatal errors of the generation of activists produced by the 1960s, whom he regarded as too dogmatic, too self-righteous, too romantic, too idealistic, too infatuated with exotic ideas and too impatient. Stylistically, the model can only be Nietzsche; the book is full of breathtakingly provocative assertions and nifty aphorisms. “He who fears corruption fears life,” Alinsky writes at one point.

Novelists:

  • Herman Melville
  • Toni Morrison
  • E. L. Doctorow (perhaps Obama’s favorite)
  • Philip Roth
  • Ernest Hemmingway
  • Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man 

Money quote on Obama’s novel reading:

A taste for serious fiction is rare in the American male these days, but Obama has it. According to several friends, he even tried his hand at writing short stories during those early years in Chicago, and he recalls priggishly scolding his half sister, Maya, while she was visiting him in New York, because she chose to watch TV instead of reading some novels he’d given her.

I notice no mention of poets or poetry. I wonder if Obama reads poetry, and who he might like. 

Miller’s full essay can be read here: http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2008/07/07/obama_books/print.html

What I take away from Obama’s adult reading list, and from observing his life as a politician, is this: Obama has a great deal of “negative capability.”

Negative capability is a term that Keats applied to Shakespeare. It is the ability to imagine oneself inside the skin of others—and to walk in her (or his) shoes.

Obama, I believe, has developed habits of imaginitive empathy—and his social activism and reading have reinforced one another.

In other words, Obama has learned, by his political practice, to empathize with the lives of whites and non-whites, males and females, and his reading of literary fiction and philosophy has given him an unusually subtle and nuanced imaginitive range.

The result: In January, we’re likely to have an intelligent and empathetic president with a gift for words and a grounding in the Western canon of literature.

Won’t that be nice?

Here’s Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) singing a song that captures, I think, the idea of negative capability, and Obama’s promise:

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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37 Responses to An Intellectual President: What Barack Obama Reads, and Has Read, Over His Lifetime

  1. somoscangrejos says:

    Sorry, not buying it. After watching McCain and Obama roast each other at the Alfred E. Smith dinner I agree with Rush, Obama is shallow. To top it off he is full of himself and has no humor. Am I a partisa? You betcha!

  2. santitafarella says:

    Somo:

    Did i understand you correctly?

    You take Rush Limbaugh as an accurate evaluator of shallowness?

    Rush Limbaugh is not an intellectual, so how can he evaluate intellectual depth? If Limbaugh was a serious reader, and had read Nietzsche and Melville and Niebuhr and concluded that Obama did not understand them, agreeing with Rush might make sense.

    But Limbaugh, it should be recalled, never even went to college.
    Might it be just a teensy bit possible that what motivates Limbaugh’s belittling of Obama’s intellect is envy?

    And as for the jokes written for Obama for a speech, how does this indicate Obama’s shallowness? You don’t think McCain wrote his jokes, do you? What makes you think Obama wrote his own jokes?

    Also, Obama had to fight through numerous unscripted debates with Hillary Clinton. Hillary is a formidable intellect, and Obama kept up with her. Obama also sparred well with Bill OReilly a month back. Obama, in unscripted moments, shows subtlety and nuance and quickness of mind. And he has a history of literary reading and writing. Obama is a sharp cookie. Deal with it.

    • Texmom says:

      Here is something many intellectuals and libs do not understand; there is a big difference between being “book smart” and having common sense. I have known many “book smart” people who need help putting on their shoes.

  3. I do not deny Obama’s intellect, nor do I champion the fact that someone has read a few books as a qualification for becoming the figurehead of the most powerful nation on Earth.

    I do, however, out of sheer intellectual honesty, have to call into question the motivations of someone who would attempt to justify Obama’s rise to power by listing the contents of his library.

    I also find it very disturbing that someone who is running to become the leader of the most prosperous (and capitalist) society in the history of humankind would not have read, at some point in his rather extensive studies, either Atlas Shrugged or The Wealth of Nations. Preferably both.

    I also find it to be rather far out of the realm of possibility, considering his political agenda, especially relating to economics, that he hasn’t memorized every word that Marx and Engels ever put to paper. Although it’s fairly obvious why he would neglect to mention that fact.

    I have the utmost respect for the intellect and determination of Senator Obama, but no matter how many books he’s read, he is still nothing more than a clone of Marx and Lenin ideologically.

    That scares me, as it should anyone who values freedom and seeks personal achievement restricted only by their willingness to pursue it.

  4. Very interesting post. You say you wonder whether Obama reads poetry. I don’t know, but he’s been known to write a bit of it. Here’s an interesting link to some of it: http://www.newyorker.com/online/2007/07/02/070702on_onlineonly_obama. It’s not half bad – for a politician.

  5. santitafarella says:

    Inexplicably,

    I think that one’s intellectual descendents (that is, the people that you have been taught under and the books that you have READ) tells a great deal about you.

    Ideas matter.

    You mention Ayn Rand and Smith, as well as Marx and Engels. Obama, by all accounts, has been a lifelong bibliophile. That means that he has read THOUSANDS of books in his lifetime, and I’ll bet that means that he has read these people too.

    As for your concern that the leader of a capitalist country (we are actually a mixed economy) would not have read Adam Smith, why do you presume that he hasn’t?

    Obama, please recall, was a professor at the University of Chicago—and in interviews with his fellow professors—a number of them from the famously conservative economic school (home of Milton F.)—they have all said that Obama has a first-rate mind and is attune to conservative economic arguments—and may even incorporate them into his thinking.

    To pretend that Obama is clueless of either Smith, Milton F., and Rand is to seriously sell him short.

    I’m not trying to play down Obama’s potential for trying to grow government. I think that, throughout Western cultural history, there has always been the danger of creating a Hobbesian Leviathan State that chokes human liberty (economic and civil).

    I just happen to believe that Obama is more of a Lockean than a Hobbesian. I base this on his intellectual openness and “negative capability.” Those who embrace fully the diversity of human stories are less inclined to want to impose ONE story or direction upon all.

    I think that Obama is a mixed-economy liberal who will try to make capitalism work better, not less efficiently.

    Sorry for my long-windedness.

  6. santitafarella says:

    One more thing about Limbaugh.

    I think that Limbaugh is engaging, at the end of this election cycle, in a classic Rovian strategy. Take the thing that everyone seems to agree is a candidate’s strength (such as John Kerry’s military service or Obama’s intellect) and cast doubt upon it.

    In other words, Limbaugh is trying to swiftboat Obama’s obvious strength—his nuanced intelligence.

    In Obama’s case, by the way, it is nearly inescapable to not pick up the racist connotations in Limbaugh’s argument.

    Limbaugh’s core audience eats resentment. It galls them that Obama is, by orders of magnitude, smarter and better educated than they are.

    Limbaugh, by casting doubt upon Obama’s core strength, gives his audience the opportunity to return to form (that is, to feel smug and superior toward a black man).

    Obama runs so contrary to stereotype that racists literally don’t know what to do with him. He confounds their categories, and so they have to hysterically drive him into those categories and make his outward persona a mere show.

    He’s really a “terrorist,” a “Muslim,” a “communist.” These are categories that racist authoritarians can manage (it certainly simplifies life).

    Wherever one finds Obama in the middle, or in the realm of subtlety and nuance, it freaks Limbaugh’s core audience out.

    They live in a black and white world (in all respects), and Obama disrupts that narrative for them.

    • Texmom says:

      I could reply with a witty and lengthy diatribe, but I think I can sum it up by saying that is a load of crap.

      • santitafarella says:

        Texmom:

        Short of a diabtribe, might you offer at least one or two arguments in rebuttal? I thought what I said was pretty insightful. What’s wrong with it, exactly?

        —Santi

  7. santitafarella says:

    david michael,

    thank you for the excellent new yorker link. i found the poems, and yale prof. bloom’s comments on them, of considerable interest.

    he wrote very well for an eighteen year old—and his sensitivities in the poems sound a great deal like the mature obama of his later memoirs.

    —santi

    • Texmom says:

      Example:
      “(that is, to feel smug and superior toward a black man).”

      Anyone who disagrees with Obama, his ideology or even his choice of neckties is labled a racist. It is the most ridiculous argument ever, but is certainly an easy way to try to shut people up. That is not to say that there is no one who would judge him in that way, but the majority do not. If this country had nearly the number of racists that we are made out to have, he would never have been elected or even been in the Senate.

  8. First off, Limbaugh is a blow-hard and, while I have a great deal of respect for his work ethic and the media empire he has built up around it, his ideas (and, by extension, those of his listening base) are so FAR outside the realm of those of most politically-minded people in modern society that he has, in a sense, marginalized himself. Which is good, I think.

    Secondly, I concede the fact (as you rightly pointed out) that we are, at best, a mixed economy. Or were, I should say, since the recent hostile takeover of a significant portion of the financial sector by a supposedly right-leaning executive branch. But this fact makes it all the more imperative to elect a figurehead (and congresspersons, where the true power lies) that have read, understood, and are willing to implement Miltonian and Randian limits on government meddling in the markets.

    I do not think it is enough to simply have read these important treatises and have associates testify that you may incorporate them into your policies. That is a dangerously large “IF” to be betting our future on.

    Finally, just for the record, I don’t think Obama OR McCain have what it takes to begin scaling back some of this ill-advised 70-year-old march toward socialism. Take into account the fact that all 3 Senators on the major party tickets voted in favor of the Wall Street bailout, rather than letting the market sort itself out.

    My vote, while some may call it a wasted one, is going to be cast on principle for the ticket I think may just provide the best solutions and policies to shape our long walk back to more economically free and prosperous times. That ticket is Barr/Root.

    Just my four ha’pennies. And thanks for letting me share them.

  9. santitafarella says:

    inexplicably,

    i totally sympathize with your position. i think that creeping socialism is always a danger. i think it is very important for the world to move in a lockean direction that respects property rights and civil liberties.

    i may be wrong about this, but i genuinely believe that obama is more a lockean than a hobbesian.

    if i’m wrong about this, then i’ll vote against him in 2012. but i really think the country needs to give this young idealist an opportunity to exercise his political skills on the national and international stage.

    i think that obama is going to surprise conservatives, especially economic conservatives, on numerous issues.

    i also think that randism, though interesting in many ways, does not acknowledge the complex balancing act that the modern world has to conduct between the state and global corporations.

    as such, some sort of “mixed economy” will probably always have to be with us.

    if there is not a relatively strong state exercising at least some oversight over the mechanisms of capitalism, you get the kinds of abuses associated with the deregulation of the finance industry.

    but your barr/root protest vote is a reasonable one, based on libertarian principle. i just don’t share your obama-skepticism, at least not yet.

    just because i’ll vote for obama this year doesn’t mean i might not change my mind about him four years from now.

    to echo john lennon: all i am saying is give obama a chance.

    • G says:

      USAers are funny people… even the intellectuals are afraid of ideas. People either hold fast to crude liberal political philosophy OR it’s paranoid cries of ‘He’s a Marxist!’. That’s all the choices at hand in the USA, I guess. Is it?

  10. jacob says:

    they will nitpick the books he reads because they don’t like him. its really a moot point, i mean if people are reading what he reads, is’nt that a good thing that they’re reading at all??? i know he’s become a bit of a pop star, but that not all his fault. conservatives will just stamps thier feet for 4-8years much like liberals did for the last 8.

  11. Edward says:

    It is so sad to see that despite the desire of the great majority of Americans to move beyond the dogmatic and backbiting partisanship of recent American politics, there are those who are so insecure in the idea of open and frank discussion by all parties and all positions that they resort to the same old name-calling and labeling of the past. There should be no discussion of whether such and such a policy is conservative or liberal, capitalist or socialist or communist, reactionary or revolutionary; only whether such and such a policy is good for Amercia or bad for America. President Obama understands this. There have been far too many accusations that people who fall on one side or another of an issue are UnAmerican. I thought that sort of thing had gone out with McCarthyism until along came people like Rush Limbaugh to apply that tag to anyone with whom they disagreed. Most conservatives do NOT think that way, and realize that disagreements merely discussions between good Americans on what is the best way forward for our country. Our country was founded on the principals of open discussion of differences. Those who attempt to stifle discussion by means of negative characterizations, catagorizations and name-calling, well I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

    • Texmom says:

      I would agree strongly here. Although I may agree with some of Rush’s observations, I don’t agree with his style whatsoever. I cringe at some of the stuff that comes out of his mouth, as I do with Ann Coulter.
      I think it is unfortunate that they use such a mean spirited approach, because they can both make some very good points inbetween the nastiness.

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  14. tammy says:

    i think that’s great!Obama’s a wonderful president!

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  17. Larry Gwaltney says:

    It should be obvious by now that Obama has never read “Wealth of Nations,” simply based upon the things he has said regarding matters of economics. Besides, have you ever SEEN a copy of the book? Given his superficial nature, it’s doubtful he would have the patience to go through ANY tome of that size.

    Liberals take Obama’s “intellectualism” as a matter of faith. It’s the only way they can accommodate his running up 1 and a half trillion dollar deficits two years in a row. They have to convince themselves that he knows what he is doing.

    • santitafarella says:

      Larry,

      We just came out of a recession. Obama’s deficit spending was based on advice from economists to make up the slack on a dip in economic activity. You would know that if YOU read economics.

      As for taking Obama’s intellect on faith, I deny it. I take Obama’s intellect on evidence. He was a Harvard editor of his law school journal, a professor before he was a politician, and very smart people who have spent extended hours with Obama all testify to his intelligence and intellectual nature. And unless you reject testimony as a form of evidence, he’s always been a big reader. What I reasonably infer from conservatives’ persistent denial of Obama’s intellect and intelligence—in the face of all evidence to the contrary—is racism.

      During the 2004 presidential election, Karl Rove had a strategy to cast doubt on the strongest element in John Kerry’s resume: his veteran status. “Obama is dumb” is just the latest playing of that game. It’s a form of nihilism and postmodern cynicism to treat truth as completely malleable, but the game that you are playing obviously works. It’s Iago on stilts (I assume you won’t get the reference precisely because YOU don’t read that much).

      And I suppose that you’re also careful—in the name of advancing your political ideology—not to call torture, well, torture. What’s it like to have such a low regard for language and evidence, and to live, psychologically, in postmodern-FOX News-Orwell land? Is the water fine?

      By the way, since you are such a big intellectual reader yourself, would you suggest for us an intellectual book to read (you know, one you’ve read recently)? Any subject area will do.

      I’ll go first: Mary Beard’s “The Fires of Vesuvius” (Harvard 2008).

      —Santi

      • Texmom says:

        He was never actually a full time professor, and stating that he was illustrates the previous commenter’s point, “Liberals take Obama’s “intellectualism” as a matter of faith.” He was a part time senior lecturer.
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/03/28/university-of-chicago-oba_n_93896.html
        He has never allowed his university grades to be released, of course.
        To take the word of his fan base is not enough evidence to satisfy me.
        Some of his statements don’t give me the impression of brilliance, although I am not insinuating he is ignorant. I think, however, that his intellect has been greatly exaggerated.

      • santitafarella says:

        Texmom:

        Why did you put the word “full time” in my mouth? I didn’t say it. Nothing like a straw man when you have no evidence to the contrary.

        And let me ask you if the evidence for global warming and evolution satisfy you. Or if you think the evidence is good for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. I want to know whether your ability to judge evidence is sound.

        And do you take anything on faith that is absent of strict reasons? You seem opposed to doing this on principle, and are dismissive of anyone who does. Or is your skepticism all in one direction?

        For example, is having faith in God, a Bible story, or Jesus, absent evidence, okay with you?

        As for Obama, can you name a person who has spent extended time with him who has expressed doubts about the brightness of his intellect or his intellectual range? And what evidence do you have that he is not a book reader—and does not read literary fiction? If you would just give me some evidence that suggests anything to the contrary—something to evaluate, and not innuendo—I’d be happy to look at it.

        Here’s what the Russian president recently said of Obama:

        https://santitafarella.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/russian-president-dmitry-medvedev-on-obama-hes-a-thinker-he-thinks-when-he-speaks-and-hes-eager-to-listen/

        Tell me why this constitutes a piece of poor evidence, and why it doesn’t “satify” your skeptical intelligence.

        —Santi

      • Larry Gwaltney says:

        Actually, those deficits were intended to benefit, and pay off, Democratic constituencies.

        As for Obama being editor at the Harvard Law Review, his instance was not based on academics, but for the first time in the history of the school, by popular vote.

        I leave it to you to explain why someone repeatedly pronouncing “corpsman” as “corpseman” rates as an intellectual.

        My book: Karl Popper’s Logic of Scientific Discovery.

  18. Texmom says:

    I gave you a link from the very liberal Huffington Post making it clear that he was not considered a regular professor. I think your statement definitely gave the impression that he was.

    I read a lot myself, but don’t expect people to consider me a major intellectual. I have no doubt that he reads, and I have no doubt he is a smart guy. I just feel he is far from the genius he is suggested to be. It is my opinion based on what I have seen. Needless to say, you have come to different conclusions. That doesn’t make either one of us a lunatic.

    Speaking of lunatics, Sarkozy of France has indicated he thinks Obama is a lunatic. So how do we weigh that against what the Russian president said?
    You could go on and on with this, citing things from both sides.

  19. santitafarella says:

    Texmom:

    A person teaching at a university, whether on tenure track or just teaching a class in the evening, is addressed by his or her students (rightfully) as a professor, don’t you agree?

    Why would you expect college students to address Barack Obama differently than they address their other professors on campus?

    If Obama had been full-time, I suppose you would have noted that he didn’t have tenure, and so this made him “not a real professor.”

    In other words, you are lacking in generosity, and disrespecting the proper designation that he earned as a teacher—however new—on the campus of a major university.

    As for Sarkozy, I respect the man’s opinion, and I’d be curious to have the link on that. I would regard a low estimate of Obama’s intelligence, or mental balance, by Sarkozy as a piece of evidence worthy of consideration.

    And I notice that you ducked the evolution, global warming, and Jesus’s resurrection questions.

    How come?

    You do realize that experts in evaluating evidence (that is, scientists and professors at major universities) overwhelmingly accept the first two and dismiss the “evidence” for the third.

    What’s your take on why that is the case?

    And, as a matter of principle, what is your take on reason v. faith? Is there anything that we should believe absent evidence? And what are your rules of thumb for evaluating evidence?

    —Santi

  20. Texmom says:

    It’s a busy Monday, but I appreciate your time in the post above and will try to answer briefly.
    Obama as professor- I don’t know what his students called him but that would be an interesting addition to the conversation! I am not trying to make up reasons to discount him. I am sincere in my belief that he is intellectually overrated. This doesn’t mean I think he is a fool.
    Here is a link on Sarkozy’s comments on Obama:

    [link disabled]

    As far as whether or not I take anything on faith, the answer is yes. However, I don’t follow politicians with blind faith because I don’t think they,as a group, have earned that. In fact they, as a group, have given us every reason to be skeptical.

    • santitafarella says:

      Texmom:

      I had to disable the link on your post because, when I clicked over to it, it was loaded with pop-ups that might have carried viruses. And a google search of sarkozy-obama-insane revealed no mainstream media outlets reporting the story: it was all right-wing fringy woo media. And the “insanity” referred to is not clinical, but has to do with foreign policy towards Muslim countries, and the “War on Terrorism.” Sarkozy thinks a harder line is required.

      As for taking things on faith: politicians have earned your distrust, but at least some people promoting religious ideas and movemements have not?!

      Hmm.

      Who, exactly, in the religious community (past or present) do you think has earned a pass on the “providing-evidence-for-their-claims” front? Put another way: who, in the world, gets to pronounce on matters—and be believed—absent scrutiny and evidence?

      —Santi

      • Texmom says:

        That’s odd because I got no pop ups. It was from the EU Times, which I don’t think is considered to be a right wing fringe site:)
        Here is the beginning of their post:
        “A new report circulating in the Kremlin today authored by France’s Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE) and recently “obtained” by the FSB shockingly quotes French President Nicolas Sarkozy [photo top right with Obama] as stating that President Barack Obama is “a dangerous[ly] aliéné”, which translates into his, Obama, being a “mad lunatic”,…”
        I don’t recall saying that I felt everyone in the religious community was above reproach. Did I say that? When did I say that? Of course, many have used religion for their own power and gain, which is quite sad. I have tried to learn to be discerning and look at people’s actions and not just their words.

  21. santitafarella says:

    Texmom:

    From the computer I linked from, it seriously fritzed out, and the computer’s anti-viral software, in defense, automatically blocked and closed the window.

    Anyway, I’ll try again: you said you take at least something on faith, and I was trying to get you to tell me what that is. Invariably, to take something on faith means—unless you are getting a message, like Abraham, directly from God’s voice—that you trust what some human being has said or written somewhere at some time. I’m asking you who that person(s) is. Are you referring to the writers of the Bible, the people who put the Bible together and decided what would be in it, the Pope, the Reverend Moon?

    Who?

    When you say that, in one or more instances, faith trumps for you good reasons, logic, and evidence, to whom do you give that deference as the messenger of your faith?

    And once you permit this form of faith-woo in yourself, why would you then be contemptuous of Barack Obama groupies for giving it to him—taking his word, at face value, of being a reader and intellectual?

    Why, in other words, does your skepticism stop where it does, and attach itself to some targets but not others?

    —Santi

    • Texmom says:

      Well, if we are talking about putting faith in a human being, and why I would put faith in one human being over another, that would be in observing that person. Honesty is the #1 criteria for me, and observing a person who shows me in their actions that their words were true. Sometimes, due to circumstances, their actions may not meet expectations, but if they are up front about that, they are still someone you can have faith in.
      This is why Obama fails the test badly for me. I can see why some people wanted to believe in him before the election. I did not, because there were many things that did not line up with the words coming from his mouth. Since his election, these things have become more evident to more people. Regarding his past education, why is he not forthcoming about his college years, courses and grades if he was so outstanding? You would think he would be happy to let that be known.
      This ties in with his teaching as well, as he taught Alinsky. I do not admire Alinsky. I do not put faith in someone who would promote and teach Alinksy’s ideas, including doing “whatever it takes” to reach your end goal.

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