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FAITH OF BARACK OBAMA THE HB Hardcover – 1 Jan 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: THOMAS NELSON (1 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595552502
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595552501
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 2 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,243,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Helen Hancox TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 3 Aug. 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a short book at about 130 pages (although with a 45 pages of appendices including texts of speeches) but it provides an excellent introduction to Barack Obama and the place that his Christian faith holds in his life. It briefly describes his upbringing by an atheist mother and Muslim father, his conversion to Christianity and his relationship with his mentor, Jeremiah Wright. The book doesn't delve deeply into Obama's political history but discusses a few of his political views and how they fit with his faith. There is a particularly helpful chapter which looks at Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain and George W Bush and the way in which the faith of each of them works out in their lives.

The book was an easy read with some interesting anecdotes and no strong political axe to grind although I didn't feel that I got a very in-depth look at the character of Obama, he still felt somewhat distant. The book accurately portrayed the rising importance of Christian faith in American politics and showed the different ways in which the faith of the candidates can be demonstrated. It is a helpful resource for those interested in American politics and in the man who may well be the next President.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. James W. Rabiola on 26 April 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was expecting this book, from the title, to talk at length about the FAITH of Barack Obama, however on reading it it talks very little about his actual faith but rather his background, upbringing and journey into politics. The book also talks quite a bit (27 pages) about the experiences of McCain, the preachings of Rev. Wright, the beliefs of Hilary Clinton and George Bush. Though the book itself is interesting and could be classed as 'a good book' it does not live up to it's title, so is therefore somewhat disappointing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 117 reviews
32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
First Third-Culture-Kid President 30 Oct. 2008
By Matthew R. Carroll - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Mansfield has done well in this brief book about Barack Obama's life and faith. Presidential biography makes some of the most interesting reading, and the story of presidential candidate Barack Obama is among the most remarkable. I am grateful for the opportunity to read and review the book. It has helped me to better know who Obama is, and understand his significance.

Perhaps most interesting to me is that Obama, if elected, would be the first "Third Culture Kid" to become president. One of the aspects of Obama's life that Mansfield makes clear is that Obama is a "man without country" (xvi). He was too white for his black friends, and too black for the society of his white grandparents. He was born in Hawaii, and barely knew his father from Kenya. A significant portion of his childhood was spent in Indonesia where his step-father introduced him to folk-Islam. And his mother sent him to a Catholic school, though she herself taught Obama her "atheistic optimism" (14).

Technically, John McCain is also a TCK, born in the Panama Canal Zone, and moved from base to base much of his childhood, though in my opinion, as far as cultural diversity goes, that does not hold a candle to running barefoot in the streets of Jakarta.

As a TCK myself, I find Obama's biography fascinating. Raised in Colombia of American parents, I can identify with the feeling of being neither fish nor fowl. I can sympathize with his longing for belonging, and yet never quite fitting in. And even when apparently finding some birds of a feather, I know the feeling of resting lightly on the roost. Mansfield describes Obama's association with Jeremiah Wright's church and suggests that Obama was able to attend there for 20 years and "take the chicken and spit out the bones" (64). I can attest to the TCK's ability to pick and choose wherever he goes. In my past 15 years as an adult TCK, as I moved from assignment to assignment, I have participated in a dozen churches on four different continents. Of these churches, I only left two for doctrinal reasons. The others I stayed and got plugged in despite the flaws--and found the Lord still worked in me and made me useful in that season. But I have little assurance that Obama would have the foundation to pick and choose rightly. Being raised in an atheist and Muslim home, attending a Catholic school, I don't see where Obama would ever have received the biblical instruction required to have the discernment to pick and choose from Jeremiah Wright's sermons. All the same, I will give Obama the benefit of the doubt. I will grant that he may have able to receive some benefit from the good, bring his own contribution as well, and leave most of the bad to the side. If this is true, it stems not from any superior skill of Obama's, but from God's sovereign ability to use imperfect vessels to accomplish His purposes.

This brings me to the main thing that troubles me about Obama. Mansfield quotes from Obama's The Audacity of Hope, that "he was seeking a `vessel' for his values, a `community of shared traditions in which to ground my most deeply held beliefs'" (24, 52). This concerns me because it appears that Obama came not to faith and a church because he was drawn to Christ, but because he already had a "faith" of his own making and sought a sympathetic community not unlike a virus seeks a host to draw the basic requirements to pass on life. The Gospels record several people who wanted to be included among Jesus' followers, but on their own terms (Matt. 8:19-22; Luke 9:57-62). Jesus turned all of them away, because "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself" (Matt. 16:24; Luke 9:23). No one can come to Christ with his own agenda; Christ is Lord, He sets the agenda.

Furthermore, Mansfield quotes from Audacity that "rather than `renounce the world and its ways'" Obama "was pleased that his faith would not require `retreat from the world that I knew and loved'" (53). This raises red flags in my mind, for though Jesus' followers are "in the world" (John 17:11), we are not to be "of the world" (John 15:19). Likewise John in his first epistle writes "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). If Obama is pleased with his faith because it has not required him to forsake the world he knew and loved before his conversion, then I must express serious doubts that Obama has found biblical, saving faith.

If I could hazard a guess at where Obama is spiritually in his own mind, I would draw from the words he used to describe his own mother. In a caption to a photo on page 68, Mansfield records Obama as having written, "For all her secularism, my mother was in many ways the most spiritually awakened person I have ever known." Obviously Obama is not speaking with scriptural understanding here because no atheist is spiritually awakened in the biblical sense. Without Christ, we are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). I believe Obama intends to pay his mother a compliment in calling her "spiritually awakened." The way the world understands these words, being spiritually awakened merely means appreciating beauty in others different than one's self and acknowledging an immaterial dimension to reality. Ann Dunham raised her son well, and I suspect there is a great deal of her still in him. Though many are eager to say Obama is a Christian, and proud of it, it might be more accurate to say he is "spiritually awakened" as the world would understand it, and he has associated himself with Christianity in order to give his spirituality expression.

Unfortunately, Mansfield was not able to interview Obama personally, and since I have not read any of Obama's books myself, I will stop short of pronouncing Obama an infidel. But after reading The Faith of Barack Obama, the best I can say is that I hope this is not the final definitive word on Obama's faith. Obama is still a young man. I pray that the Lord will indeed save Barack Obama. Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25).
29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
missing a chapter 28 July 2008
By Anthony Bittner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Faith of Barack Obama" disappoints those looking for a close-up view of his personal walk with Christ. While Stephen Mansfield is fair in describing Obama as a person of faith and makes it pretty clear which faith (Christianity), Mansfield also makes it obvious that this book was rushed to press without the author having had any personal interviews with Barack. He references a couple of Obama's speeches regarding faith and race, references an Easter Sunday excursion he took to Trinity (Obama's church for 20+ years) and gives credit to the campaign for being professional and helpful. Going to the Obama YouTube page provides an opportunity to see and hear over 1,000 videos of speeches and interviews that would flesh out Barack's faith for any interested individuals much better than this book was able to provide.
One highlight of the book comes in chapter five: four faces of faith. Mansfield compares John McCain's, Hillary Clinton's, and George W. Bush's faith to Obama's. While Obama's faith wasn't fleshed out in this chapter, it seemed safe to assume it would be fleshed out in a following chapter since the whole book was dedicated to this pursuit. Disappointingly, that chapter wasn't included in the book.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Excellent introduction to Obama and the place of faith in US politics in 2008 2 Aug. 2008
By Helen Hancox - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
[This review was originally written for a UK-based magazine]

This is a short book at about 130 pages (although with a 45 pages of appendices including texts of speeches) but it provides an excellent introduction to Barack Obama and the place that his Christian faith holds in his life. It briefly describes his upbringing by an atheist mother and Muslim father, his conversion to Christianity and his relationship with his mentor, Jeremiah Wright. The book doesn't delve deeply into Obama's political history but discusses a few of his political views and how they fit with his faith. There is a particularly helpful chapter which looks at Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain and George W Bush and the way in which the faith of each of them works out in their lives.

The book was an easy read with some interesting anecdotes and no strong political axe to grind although I didn't feel that I got a very in-depth look at the character of Obama, he still felt somewhat distant. The book accurately portrayed the rising importance of Christian faith in American politics and showed the different ways in which the faith of the candidates can be demonstrated. It is a helpful resource for those interested in American politics and in the man who may well be the next President.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Expected more 8 April 2010
By Mary Snyder - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I expected more. The history of Barack Obama's upbringing is essential to the story and I appreciate the attention to detail. The author did a wonderful job in researching his past and his church along with the controversial Rev. Wright.

However, the book falls short in personal interviews. The author didn't interview Senator Obama -- and I wonder how much can I learn about a man's faith without hearing his words on his faith.

All together an insightful book and one that is sheds light on many things in the President's life, but can only be taken in conjunction with what Barack Obama has to say about what he believes. Attending a Christian church does not make you a man of faith -- that's a personal decision to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Could have been a much better book! 13 Dec. 2009
By Simon Laub - Published on Amazon.com
According to archbishop Desmond Tuto: "You must read this perceptive
and well written book". And so I did.

I am not sure we are much wiser after reading the book though.
On the afterlife Obama tells his daughter: "I wondered
if I should have told her the truth, that I wasnt sure what happens
when we die, anymore than I was sure where the soul resides or what existed
before the Big Bang."
Kind of the usual post modern christianity. Then what about Obamas
connection to the Trinity church and Jeremiah Wright
(And his sermons where America is damned for her rascism,
HIV is devised by the US government as a weapon against black,
and 9/11 is chickens coming home to roost).
Not much new in this book either I am afraid.
Trinity is just a "vessel" for values he already had, for "community
or shared traditions in which to ground most deeply held beliefs".
Questions do not magically disappear - Instead by joining the church,
Obama becomes a part of something, instead of just being a loner.
Then what about his childhood years?, when he ran around
in Indonesia wearing a sarong, the traditional indonesian skirt for men.
Was he a muslim back then?
According to the book, a child must have reached puperty before he can convert
to islam, and young Barack was years away from that. And therefore
he is not an apostate now.

Still the book seens somewhat rushed,
it is still less than crystal clear what it means
to be the child of "an atheist mother and a Muslim father,
to convert to Christianity and have a powerful relationship with
a colorful man like Jeremiah Wright".

If his grandfather is a somewhat "failed furniture dealer",
and his mother is a "sharpwitted, intellectual on foodstamps"
you can understand why you need faith to keep going.
But neither the grandfather, nor the mother really comes across
in this book. Their portraits are somewhat out of focus throughout the book.
One of the reasons this book doesnt really deliver.

-Simon
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