While we're waiting for baby pictures, I thought I'd talk briefly about the forum that Obama and McCain participated in. I know some of you probably haven't seen it, after all, there was a Packer game on last night, but I watched it and found it interesting.
The forum was hosted by Pastor Rick of the Saddleback Church. Which is, from what I can tell, a biggish church heavy on the conservative Christian ideology of bad music and pro-family values. What gets me most about this is not the idea of having forums, debates and town halls with the two candidates (bring 'em on, I say, the more the merrier), but the fact that a nation which professes to keep the idea of Church and State separate allowed a forum to be mediated by an ordained pastor and broadcast live on a national television channel. I know that Americans have never accepted the idea of keeping church out of politics (Geo. Washington went so far as to say he hoped it "never happened") but I prefer to keep my religious identity far, far away from my politics. Naturally I want good moral people leading our country. But I do not believe that morality has to be backed up by a Christian identity and a little white chapel in the hills somewhere. Yes, "Love thy neighbor as thyself" just happens to be sound advice if you're trying to govern a nation, but that's a double edged sword: how can anyone professing to be a Christian declare war as Commander in Chief?
So I was uncomfortable with that. The actual forum itself was interesting--Barack Obama spoke openly about his faith and his feelings about various issues, although I think he played the politician a little too much some times, choosing to reword questions to suit answers he's memorized long ago. John McCain played to the crowd, using short, punchy answers full of buzzwords. He talked about being a POW of course, and also told the story of how his wife brought home an orphaned baby without telling him until she got off the plane and handed him a newborn. Obama quoted the Bible, McCain promised to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, etc, etc, etc.
The whole thing was very interesting. I felt bad for the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, Jews, et al who are not personally going to be included in this little discussion on religious views--they are certainly not interested in how Christian views influence the candidates. It was a good chance to get to know the candidates personally, what their individual views were. I guess I'd rather have McCain over to a BBQ, even though you know at some point he's going to be telling that damme POW story again. And I'd rather have Obama at my Thanksgiving dinner, where he's probably be really boring until after pie when everyone is feeling sleepy and he leans back and tells some story about having Thanksgiving dinner in Hawai'i with pineapples for dessert. That's the kind of conclusions I could draw from this forum.
But I don't want to know those sorts of things, I want to know what they'll do if the phone rings at three in the morning. I want to know if the rest of the world is going to respect them or laugh at them. I want to know if they'll be capable of leading--and willing to change direction if they're leading America down the wrong path. But most of all, I want to know if they'll be willing to make the tough decisions without justifying it because of their Christian faith, but saying "This is the humanitarian thing to do--the right thing to do." And being okay with leaving it at that. That is, after all, what our Constitution asks us to do. We read a passage in Galatians in Sunday school that talked about this specifically--if you follow the law of Jesus, you will follow the laws of man naturally, there will be no discrepancy.