Reading the reaction to last night’s debate it seems canned. Those that have been supporting Romney think Romney won and those supporting Obama think Obama won. That means essentially no minds were changed, no votes were moved – and that means Romney won because all the momentum is in his direction.
I; however, do think the debate was the most revealing of the season about the intellect and faith of these two men. Let’s consider just a few things that became crystal clear last night.
- Twice Obama indicated that he has no comprehension of the fact that there is evil in the world on a national level, save for Hitler. He discussed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as if they were motivated by the same things as your average American leader – jobs, the economy and national security. He discussed the people of Iran as if they were also similarly motivated and would therefore throw out the mullahs, as if the mullahs could not simply oppress them into compliance.
- For Obama, the personal was preeminent Whether it was his constant appeals that we withdraw from the world to engage in “nation building at home,” his constant appeal to anecdote, or his confusion of himself through the use of personal pronouns and the nation, Obama demonstrated that he did not seek to represent the whole nor that there was an objective reality.
- Obama demonstrated an amazing ignorance of the military. I know very little, but I know enough to know that he has no comprehension of what a military mission is beyond point and shoot (“Bogged down in Iraq!?” – every military man I know that was there has told me that it had finally gotten to the point where we could get to the real mission) and that he has no concept of their deeply ingrained nature to follow his lead (“the military is not asking for”). Again, he had no understanding of a viewpoint beyond his own.
- Obama showed no understanding of strength or leadership. He confuses weakness with humility (“I did not apologize”) and leadership with pride.
If you had to sum this all up it looks to me like Obama sees the world as he wants to see it instead of looking at facts and forming a worldview based upon those facts. In other words, he lives in “Obamaland.”
I find this fascinating, on the heels of a Sunday story from CNN that was at first headlined “Obama Is The Wrong Kind of Christian,” (Check the URL of the link, it’s still there) but is now headlined “The Gospel According To Obama.“ They attempt to make the case that he is a new kind of Christian.
Historians may remember Obama as the nation’s first black president, but he’s also a religious pioneer. He’s not only changed people’s perception of who can be president, some scholars and pastors say, but he’s also expanding the definition of who can be a Christian by challenging the religious right’s domination of the national stage.
I will NOT get into a discussion of whether Obama’s faith is legitimately Christian or not. That is between him and God. But I will say this – there is nothing new about him – he is pretty much standard issue Protestant liberal in the mainlines. The only way this story makes any sense is if you define Christianity by the largely independent and conservative Evangelical churches and while they are the majority of Christianity in America right now they do not define it. Then, of course, there are all those liberal Catholics out there, and they still comprise roughly half the church, even if the leadership is conservative. But what you can see as you read the article and if you interact with the many liberal forces inside the church is that this brand of Christianity is marked by the kind of fantasy view of reality we saw Obama have in the debate.
It looks very much like Romney is going to run away with the Evangelical vote. So much for the religion wars of the last two primaries. But I also think that bodes well for the future of the church in America. The Evangelical movement has appeared to some of us as the death throes of Christianity in the nation. It has been a part of America virtually since the founding, but its current prominence has been due in large part to the liberalization of the mainlines – but in obtaining that prominence it has also adopted the narcissism of the modern age, just without the liberal politics and theology. Such narcissism would eventually lead to a different, but equally fantastic view of reality as the liberals.
In choosing to back Romney by large margins, Evangelicals are also choosing the objective view of reality that Romney shared in last night’s debate. Sure there are some large theological differences, but both theologies are looking at reality, seeing the same thing and coming up with the same solutions. That is a recipe for theological political co-existence and for a solution to problems facing both the nation and the church.
The debate last night was not the best television, especially opposite MNF and league playoffs in baseball. But it was, in my opinion, the most revealing. What it revealed about Mitt Romney was good and what the tide of the election is revealing about the American people is also good.