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Barak Obama's 2004 Interview with a Chicago columinist. He is ascetic, born in Hawaii. A good person

 
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Barak Obama's 2004 Interview with a Chicago columinist. He is ascetic, born in Hawaii. A good person
Obama's Fascinating Interview with Cathleen Falsani
Tuesday November 11, 2008

The most detailed and fascinating explication of Barack Obama's faith came in a 2004 interview he gave Chicago Sun Times columnist Cathleen Falsani when he was running for U.S. Senate in Illinois. The column she wrote about the interview has been quoted and misquoted many times over, but she'd never before published the full transcript in a major publication.
Because of how controversial that interview became, Falsani has graciously allowed us to print the full conversation here.


Falsani is one of the most gifted interviews on matters of Faith, and has recently published an outstanding memoir called Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace. To get a free download of the audio book, click here.

* * *

At 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 27, 2004, when I was the religion reporter (I am now its religion columnist) at the Chicago Sun-Times, I met then-State Sen. Barack Obama at Café Baci, a small coffee joint at 330 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago, to interview him exclusively about his spirituality. Our conversation took place a few days after he'd clinched the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat that he eventually won. We spoke for more than an hour. He came alone. He answered everything I asked without notes or hesitation. The profile of Obama that grew from the interview at Cafe Baci became the first in a series in the Sun-Times called "The God Factor," that eventually became my first book, The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People (FSG, March 2006.) Because of the staggering interest in now President-Elect Obama's faith and spiritual predilections, I thought it might be helpful to share that interivew, uncut and in its entirety, here.


--Cathleen Falsani
Interview with State Sen. Barack Obama
3:30 p.m., Saturday March 27
Café Baci, 330 S. Michigan Avenue
Me: decaf
He: alone, on time, grabs a Naked juice protein shake

FALSANI:
What do you believe?

OBAMA:
I am a Christian.
So, I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith.
On the other hand, I was born in Hawaii where obviously there are a lot of Eastern influences.
I lived in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, between the ages of six and 10.
My father was from Kenya, and although he was probably most accurately labeled an agnostic, his father was Muslim.
And I'd say, probably, intellectually I've drawn as much from Judaism as any other faith.
(A patron stops and says, "Congratulations," shakes his hand. "Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Thank you.")
So, I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there's an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.
And so, part of my project in life was probably to spend the first 40 years of my life figuring out what I did believe - I'm 42 now - and it's not that I had it all completely worked out, but I'm spending a lot of time now trying to apply what I believe and trying to live up to those values.

FALSANI:
Have you always been a Christian?

OBAMA:
I was raised more by my mother and my mother was Christian.

FALSANI:
Any particular flavor?

OBAMA:
No.
My grandparents who were from small towns in Kansas. My grandmother was Methodist. My grandfather was Baptist. This was at a time when I think the Methodists felt slightly superior to the Baptists. And by the time I was born, they were, I think, my grandparents had joined a Universalist church.
So, my mother, who I think had as much influence on my values as anybody, was not someone who wore her religion on her sleeve. We'd go to church for Easter. She wasn't a church lady.
As I said, we moved to Indonesia. She remarried an Indonesian who wasn't particularly, he wasn't a practicing Muslim. I went to a Catholic school in a Muslim country. So I was studying the Bible and catechisms by day, and at night you'd hear the prayer call.
So I don't think as a child we were, or I had a structured religious education. But my mother was deeply spiritual person, and would spend a lot of time talking about values and give me books about the world's religions, and talk to me about them. And I think always, her view always was that underlying these religions were a common set of beliefs about how you treat other people and how you aspire to act, not just for yourself but also for the greater good.
And, so that, I think, was what I carried with me through college. I probably didn't get started getting active in church activities until I moved to Chicago.
The way I came to Chicago in 1985 was that I was interested in community organizing and I was inspired by the Civil Rights movement. And the idea that ordinary people could do extraordinary things. And there was a group of churches out on the South Side of Chicago that had come together to form an organization to try to deal with the devastation of steel plants that had closed. And didn't have much money, but felt that if they formed an organization and hired somebody to organize them to work on issues that affected their community, that it would strengthen the church and also strengthen the community.
So they hired me, for $13,000 a year. The princely sum. And I drove out here and I didn't know anybody and started working with both the ministers and the lay people in these churches on issues like creating job training programs, or afterschool programs for youth, or making sure that city services were fairly allocated to underserved communites.
This would be in Roseland, West Pullman, Altgeld Gardens, far South Side working class and lower income communities.
And it was in those places where I think what had been more of an intellectual view of religion deepened because I'd be spending an enormous amount of time with church ladies, sort of surrogate mothers and fathers and everybody I was working with was 50 or 55 or 60, and here I was a 23-year-old kid running around.
I became much more familiar with the ongoing tradition of the historic black church and it's importance in the community.
And the power of that culture to give people strength in very difficult circumstances, and the power of that church to give people courage against great odds. And it moved me deeply.
So that, one of the churches I met, or one of the churches that I became involved in was Trinity United Church of Christ. And the pastor there, Jeremiah Wright, became a good friend. So I joined that church and committed myself to Christ in that church.

FALSANI:
Did you actually go up for an altar call?

OBAMA:
Yes. Absolutely.
It was a daytime service, during a daytime service. And it was a powerful moment. Because, it was powerful for me because it not only confirmed my faith, it not only gave shape to my faith, but I think, also, allowed me to connect the work I had been pursuing with my faith.

FALSANI:
How long ago?

OBAMA:
16, 17 years ago. 1987 or 88

FALSANI:
So you got yourself born again?

OBAMA:
Yeah, although I don't, I retain from my childhood and my experiences growing up a suspicion of dogma. And I'm not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I've got a monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others.
I'm a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it's best comes with a big dose of doubt. I'm suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding.
I think that, particularly as somebody who's now in the public realm and is a student of what brings people together and what drives them apart, there's an enormous amount of damage done around the world in the name of religion and certainty.

FALSANI
Do you still attend Trinity?

OBAMA:
Yep. Every week. 11 oclock service.
Ever been there? Good service.
I actually wrote a book called Dreams from My Father, it's kind of a meditation on race. There's a whole chapter on the church in that, and my first visits to Trinity.

Read more
[link to blog.beliefnet.com]

Last Edited by Account Deleted by User on 11/25/2011 06:09 PM
Anonymous Coward
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11/16/2008 05:26 PM
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Re: Barak Obama's 2004 Interview with a Chicago columinist. He is ascetic, born in Hawaii. A good person
Well, I don't know what you think that is supposed to prove. Obama WOULD have to say he was born in Hawaii because to admit that he was born in a foreign country would make him cease to be American, as the law governing natural born American citizens states that the American mother has to live five years in the USA after the age of 14, and his mother was only 18.
Oops!
Anonymous Coward
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11/16/2008 05:34 PM
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Re: Barak Obama's 2004 Interview with a Chicago columinist. He is ascetic, born in Hawaii. A good person
Thank you for the interview information.

When asked about Jesus, Obama gave a most interesting answer for a Christian. He thought Jesus was a historical figure and a teacher. THERE WAS NOTHING ABOUT JESUS BEING GOD OR THE SON OF GOD. I find this most interesting.

I believe those of the Muslim faith also recognize Jesus as a teacher, PERIOD.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/16/2008 05:36 PM
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Re: Barak Obama's 2004 Interview with a Chicago columinist. He is ascetic, born in Hawaii. A good person
What you are saying, AC542303, is that all people born in the United States of teenage pregnancy are stateless, that they don't belong anywhere.
Anonymous Coward
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11/16/2008 05:42 PM
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Re: Barak Obama's 2004 Interview with a Chicago columinist. He is ascetic, born in Hawaii. A good person
If he is a good person then why doesn't he hand his birth certificate over.

I don't believe anything he says until he does that.

Which hospital was he born in?
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/16/2008 05:56 PM
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Re: Barak Obama's 2004 Interview with a Chicago columinist. He is ascetic, born in Hawaii. A good person
Yes, AC395434, and he's also perceptive enough to distinguish values from religious belief, and he is able to bring forward values without pulling religion into it. He says in the interview that he is suspicious of dogma.

That shows a keen mind and is one of the reasons why I termed him ascetic.

And I apologize for misspelling his name in the title of this thread. It's Barack Obama, and not Barak. Oops!
Anonymous Coward
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11/16/2008 06:02 PM
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Re: Barak Obama's 2004 Interview with a Chicago columinist. He is ascetic, born in Hawaii. A good person
Being rasied in Hawaii is probably the best part of it all for it gave Obama a rounded sense of equality. Hawaii is a melting pot of every culture on the planet and with the basis of "Aloha" (love and respect) that the native hawaiians teach and cultivate throughout the islands.

{{ for those of you who are too stupid to realize that Obama could not have even posted his position to run for president without proper birth certificates, I feel very sorry for you.... for you are lead through ignornace and media spin, causing you to hate and waste your precious life force for what?? someone elses sick agenda. He could not have even been a Senator, every think on that? But the media lies have you bound up in anger and you are a waste!}}}
Right to Lifer
User ID: 429261
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11/16/2008 06:24 PM
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Re: Barak Obama's 2004 Interview with a Chicago columinist. He is ascetic, born in Hawaii. A good person
hmm And yet Obama voted four times to allow doctors and nurses to leave babies that survive an abortion alone in a broom closet to slowly die of starvation and dehydration.

Someone needs to tell Obama that Jesus said we would be judged by our fruits (works) not by what we say.


.
Anonymous Coward
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11/16/2008 06:26 PM
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Re: Barak Obama's 2004 Interview with a Chicago columinist. He is ascetic, born in Hawaii. A good person
Oh, my gosh, after reading that interview, I like him even more.

He believes almost exactly how I believe and he was honest about it.

That was good! Thanks for posting it.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/16/2008 06:32 PM
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Re: Barak Obama's 2004 Interview with a Chicago columinist. He is ascetic, born in Hawaii. A good person
You're welcome. I enjoyed it too and it resonated with me.
Anonymous Coward
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11/16/2008 06:46 PM
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Re: Barak Obama's 2004 Interview with a Chicago columinist. He is ascetic, born in Hawaii. A good person
Thank you for the interview information.

When asked about Jesus, Obama gave a most interesting answer for a Christian. He thought Jesus was a historical figure and a teacher. THERE WAS NOTHING ABOUT JESUS BEING GOD OR THE SON OF GOD. I find this most interesting.

I believe those of the Muslim faith also recognize Jesus as a teacher, PERIOD.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 395434


ac, you left this comment out: he's also a bridge between God and man,

What he did say is: FALSANI:
Is Jesus someone who you feel you have a regular connection with now, a personal connection with in your life?

OBAMA:
Yeah. Yes. I think some of the things I talked about earlier are addressed through, are channeled through my Christian faith and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.


Now, if he didn't believe Jesus was God's son, He wouldn't have made that statement. I didn't hear him say he had a personal relationship with Ghandi...did you?

You guys will pick anything apart that you can about Obama. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Anonymous Coward
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11/16/2008 06:49 PM
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Re: Barak Obama's 2004 Interview with a Chicago columinist. He is ascetic, born in Hawaii. A good person
hmm And yet Obama voted four times to allow doctors and nurses to leave babies that survive an abortion alone in a broom closet to slowly die of starvation and dehydration.

Someone needs to tell Obama that Jesus said we would be judged by our fruits (works) not by what we say.


.
 Quoting: Right to Lifer 429261


I don't believe a word of that. Besides, I thought they stuck a knife up though the neck or something, so how would a fetus be able to take that first breath...The breath of life when the spirit enters the body?
Anonymous Coward
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09/26/2010 07:55 PM
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Re: Barak Obama's 2004 Interview with a Chicago columinist. He is ascetic, born in Hawaii. A good person
I do believe what he says. He is a well-intentioned person. I like him.

Saint Germain in his blog says about President Obama:

"President Obama has many controllers to deal with. Give him the attitude of compassion, for the controllers are involved in every major action." More at the link
[link to comptedesaintgermainsblog.blogspot.com]

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