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Hank - Duke U. said...

One day an environmentalist whacko UNC student went to a sea
food restaurant and saw the tank where they kept the lobsters.

She took pity on these creatures and hid them in her purse.

Later she went to the woods to set the poor animals free!

Dr. Al Mohler said...

The Real Issue with Sen. Obama's Comments
Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 1:44 am ET

The news media and political pundits have been dissecting the now infamous
comments of Sen. Barack Obama in which he told a group in San Francisco that
hard economic times explain why some people cling to religion, guns, and
certain political convictions.

Sen. Obama was speaking at a private fundraising event, but his comments
became public when leaked to the media. Sen. Hillary Clinton and a host of
others accused Sen. Obama of elitism and being out of touch with ordinary
Americans -- charge that may well gain traction in the crucial days leading
up to the Pennsylvania primary next Tuesday.

Take a look again at the words most often cited from Sen. Obama's comments:

"It's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or
antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or
anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

I will let the political pundits have their day with this. My interest is
theological, for Sen. Obama has given us a near-perfect expression of a
functional view of religious belief. In other words, Sen. Obama said that
"religion" is a coping mechanism for hard times -- lumping religion with
other issues his audience members were presumably to find strange and alien.

A functional view of belief assumes or "brackets" the question of whether
the beliefs are true. One who holds to a purely functionalist view of
religious conviction is not concerned with the truthfulness of these
beliefs, but only with the effects the beliefs have on the believer, both
privately and in social contexts.

No one but God knows Sen. Obama's heart, but we are left with his words. In
this case, the words are very similar to what is so often heard from
political figures. When speaking of their own faith they often speak of how
it functions. Sen. Clinton spoke this way at the "Compassion Forum" at
Messiah College on Sunday night, but we must note that Republicans often
speak the same way -- valuing "faith" as if faith has no object.

A functional view of belief appears when people speak of their beliefs or
the beliefs of others in merely pragmatic form. It can be a way of avoiding
the particularities of belief -- speaking only of how their belief system
functions in their lives. This function can be in terms of a coping
mechanism, hope, comfort, moral guidance, or any number of effects.

In the early stages of modernity, many thinkers --- assuming that there is
no validity to religious beliefs in terms of truth -- nevertheless noted
what they described as its functions. Sigmund Freud detailed his
psychiatric theory in Totem and Taboo. Karl Marx defined religious belief
as "the opiate of the people," used by the politically powerful to oppress
workers and keep them subservient. Other figures spoke of religious belief
in more positive terms, describing its contributions to social order and

In other words, functional views of religious belief are found among both
conservatives and liberals. In one famous example, President Dwight D.
Eisenhower, a Republican, conveyed a functional view of religious belief in
an almost quintessential expression. Speaking on Flag Day in 1954,
President Eisenhower said: "Our government makes no sense unless it is
founded on a deeply felt religious faith--and I don't care what it is."

As presidential historian William Lee Miller once noted, Eisenhower was a
"fervent believer in a very vague religion."

Christians should learn to detect a functional account of religious belief
when listening to public figures speak. Liberals tend to speak in
functional terms of meaning and purpose. Conservatives tend to speak
functionally in terms of social order, stability, and morality.

None of these is a substitute for authentic Christianity -- a faith that is
predicated on being true -- not merely meaningful or helpful.

Professor Howdy said...

Sad? Lonely? Worried?



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