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Please Don’t Make Me Puke

Posted by RickH · August 28th, 2008 · No Comments

A few weeks ago, I learned that the publishing house of Thomas Nelson was offering free copies of Stephen Mansfield’s book, The Faith of Barack Obama.  In exchange, I promised to review it, but (trust me) this is not for the faint of heart.

I knew I was in trouble from the first line.  “It was a cool, overcast Tuesday in July 2004….”  Stephen Mansfield, can you say “Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton”?

Regardless, I thank you not.  Having forced myself to read the whole thing — twice — I feel an almost overwhelming urge to puke.

The first line was bad enough, but the roiling in my gut began in earnest two paragraphs later:

“This is incredible!” Nesbitt gushed, “You’re like a rock star!”
Turning to his friend, Obama replied, “If you think it’s bad today, wait till tomorrow.”
Nesbitt looked puzzled. “What do you mean?”
“My speech is pretty good,” Obama explained. Clearly, he already had some sense of his destiny.

And it went downhill from there.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not an Obama-basher.  I’ll admit the man makes me nervous.  I don’t agree with one of my friends who said, “He’s the real Manchurian candidate.” If you’ve read the book version of the Manchurian Candidate, that phrase indicates a kind of “plant” who is not what he appears to be, but actually more like his opposite.  (The movie alters this a bit.  The candidate isn’t the opposite of what he appears and he’s the Manchurian Candidate because a worldwide conglomerate called “Manchurian Global” is responsible for what happens.)  I think Obama is a bit of an unknown quantity; he’s not a Manchurian candidate.

Moreover, I love the United States Constitution too much to vote for McCain, so Obama will probably end up with my vote this November.  Realizing this, but not wanting to vote for someone just because everyone else thinks he’s the Son of God and I’ve been offered no alternative with which I can live, I offered to review the book.  I wanted to know more about Obama.

In that respect, this book did not satisfy.  Worse, the sustained sycophantic statements of the greatness of He-Who-Is-The-Obama are more than a little much.  So my readers don’t ruin their keyboards, here is just a minor sampling:

He was a man without a country.

…haunted by displacement…

…rooted himself in the soil…

…healing for his loneliness and answers for his incomplete worldview.

…affirmation as a son of Africa.

…Obama himself refused to drink from this bitter stream…

Through Trinity, he found the mystical country for which his soul had longed.

Aw, hell!  Screw your keyboards!  I don’t want to leave you thinking I’m just picking and choosing tiny chunks and trying to convince you it’s a full plate of vomit.

It is the healers who are best remembered, those who teach us to live beyond the limitations of our lesser selves.  The healers are greathearts and lovers—souls who show us the path to the world we’ve hoped for, who teach us that we can make our high-flying rhetoric into living, earthly reality.

They tend to come after bruising, bloody seasons, and yet they seem immune to the rage and vengeance of lesser men.  They know how to grasp forgiveness and generosity of heart, having usually mined these traits from the dark vallesy of their own lives.  Thankfully, they rise to grace a public stage and then heal their land and their people with the truths hard-won in less-visible days.  Nations, then, are unified.  Political strife is transformed into statemanship.  Races are ennobled [ennobled!] and readied to belong to a broader whole.  Men and women are freed from the grip of the petty and the small.  This is what healers do.

Indeed, so incredible is The Obama that “[h]is saga contains all the wrenching, ancient themes of human history and literature: the longing for place, the yearning for a father, the hope for a destiny.”  Perhaps this explains why Bobby Rush, “an impressive man,” is quoted as saying

I think that Obama—his election to the Senate—was divinely ordered….I know that was God’s plan.  Obama has certain qualities.  I think he is being used for some purpose.

At the moment, that purpose is apparently to sell pap.  Or, if you prefer, crap.

What I was after was information.  This collection of paper obviously deserves a place in the pantheon of Obama mythology. Whether explaining Obama’s connection to Islam (blaming the the stepfather who fed  The Obama “tiger meat…in hopes of making his stepson a fiercer, more powerful man”) or (unnecessarily and disingenuously) excusing his long running connection to Trinity United Church of Christ ( “[h]e stayed because he had learned to ‘eat the chicken and spit out the bones….”), it’s difficult to figure out what’s true and what’s frosting — or overwhelming, sickeningly-sweet perfume. After forcing myself to read the entire book, I really need a healer!

About the only thing I found redeeming in the entire book is what it told me about the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.  Unfortunately the tone of the book leaves me tempted to doubt nearly every word from page viii to page 164.  (And, yes, I realize that includes both the dedication to the author’s wife and the index!)  If, however, there is any truth to what the book says about Reverend Wright, then there’s the man I want to know more about!  He’s the person who comes across as principled, courageous and worthy of support.  To hell with Obama, who “tried on personas as another man might try on clothes,” let’s have a book about the Reverend Jeremiah Wright!

Just please.  Please, please, please, please, please!  Don’t let Stephen Mansfield write it.

Categories: 2008 Presidential Election · Books & Book Reviews

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