The Faith of Barack Obama Stephen Mansfield. Thomas Nelson, $19.99 (156p) ISBN 978-1-5955-5250-1
Pundits tell us that this years’ Democratic Convention is about introducing Barack Obama to the American electorate. If this is true, then Stephen Mansfield’s The Faith of Barack Obama is required reading.
In 156 quick-reading pages Mansfield manages to not only to sketch Obama’s life, but also to place him in context with his political contemporaries.
We meet a young man who came of age on Chicago’s South side. Nurtured in the faith of the black church, with its unique commingling of Gospel as personal and societal conversion, there emerges a political liberal whose convictions spring not from strictly secular assumptions, but from theological convictions formed in church and community.
Mansfield re-introduces us to Jeremiah Wright. He helps those unfamiliar with black theology to place Wright in a stream of the church influenced profoundly by systemic oppression. His writing is charitable and balanced, offering much more than the caricatured preacher of YouTube clips.
In depicting Obama to an audience largely unfamiliar with him and distrustful of his politics, Mansfield models charity. More than that, he offers an understanding of this moment as an opportunity for Americans (evangelical and otherwise) to grow in mutual respect and understanding toward a new future.