I have read part of Senator Obama’s first book and I look forward to checking out his second book as well. This past week, Time magazine did a wonderful article on Senator Obama entitled Why Barack Obama Could Be the Next President. I recommend it to you. Even better than that article was the excerpt from his new book that they included in the same issue; an excerpt that chronicles his faith journey. In this selection from his newest book, he discusses how he was drawn both to a life of public service and to a deeper faith than the one he learned from his mother growing up. I was particularly moved by this paragraph about the role the African American church has played in our identity as American Christians:
For one thing, I was drawn to the power of the African American religious tradition to spur social change. Out of necessity, the black church had to minister to the whole person. Out of necessity, the black church rarely had the luxury of separating individual salvation from collective salvation. It had to serve as the center of the community’s political, economic, and social as well as spiritual life; it understood in an intimate way the biblical call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and challenge powers and principalities. In the history of these struggles, I was able to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death; rather, it was an active, palpable agent in the world.
In my opinion, these words describe who and what the church should be. Looking at the world around us, do any of us “have the luxury of separating individual salvation from collective salvation?”
I look forward to hearing more from Senator Obama!