Monday, June 25, 2007

Obama on Religion and Spiritual Hunger

That God does not exist, I cannot deny. That my whole being cries out for God I cannot forget. --Sartre

David Brody, a correspondent for Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, writes approvingly of Obama's public expression of faith. (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

While Obama's potential to siphon the hard-core Christian vote from the Republicans is an interesting story in itself, as is the question of whether we should worry about Obama's own mingling of faith and politics, Obama's description of the void that religion fills in people's lives deserves a post of its own:
There’s a hunger that’s deeper than that – a hunger that goes beyond any single cause or issue. It seems to me that each day, thousands of Americans are going about their lives – dropping the kids off at school, driving to work, shopping at the mall, trying to stay on their diets, trying to kick a cigarette habit – and they’re coming to the realization that something is missing. They’re deciding that their work, their possessions, their diversions, their sheer busyness, is not enough.

They want a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to their lives. They’re looking to relieve a chronic loneliness. And so they need an assurance that somebody out there cares about them, is listening to them – that they are not just destined to travel down that long road toward nothingness.


Mark said...

Has he been reading Bertrand de Jouvenel and A. Solzhenitsyn? ;)

Stephen said...

… a narrative arc to their lives.

I think that says it very well.

People organize their identity around such narratives. For example, when people divorce, each spouse will have a narrative explaining where things went wrong, apportioning blame, and why this is for the best (or not). It's a deeply ingrained impulse to impart a sense of direction and, if possible, purpose to the major events of one's life.

Which doesn't speak to the truth of the narrative, of course. The post-divorce narratives don't tend to line up very well, any more than the religion narratives do — even though these are concrete experiences that the people have actually lived through.

Anonymous said...

Typical liberal elitist. Dropping your kids off at school is a horrible waste of gas. They can walk or take the bus.

Skcorefil said...

Obama sounds a little emo to me. There are some people who are happy. Not everyone is lonely.