An interesting resurrection is taking place: the re-emergence of the Messianic Obama theme from the tomb to which it had been consigned.
It began rather modestly, with the release of The Gospel According to Apostle Barack. But that was a mere gospel. Jamie Foxx then upped the ante by referring (ironically?) to “our Lord and Savior, Barack Obama!” and today Drudge is featuring this story about a 2009 painting depicting a Messianic Obama who is “The Truth”
Obama wears a spotless white shirt, the red tie, the blue jacket. Yes, that’s the old “red, white and blue” of the U.S. standard, but in Orthodox icon-writing those colors, specifically when adorning the body, are meant to communicate Christ’s transfiguration (and resurrection), royalty and divinity. On the head of Obama -whose life from graduate school on has rolled pretty easy- we see the thorny crowns worn by the suffering servant.
The restoration of the messianic narrative is not accidental, I don’t think. Good heavens, the last election has proved that people aren’t actually thinking very much, they’re simply responding to the flashiest lights; four years of this messaging and hey, the messiah is revealed — who needs elections, anymore?
Fascinating to watch a president who is bringing about the biggest threat to religious freedoms the nation has ever encountered being invested with religious meaning, himself.
This is bringing up some interesting conversation in my social media timelines, particularly among Christians who are wondering how a balance may be struck between the spiritual (which is reality) and the political (which is so much illusion) and what denotes the line between reasonable political engagement and political junkie-ism, which can be defined as an excess of reliance on (and belief in) political solutionism, and is very often half-rooted in idolatry. There is a challenge of balance, for people of faith: political engagement is a good and necessary thing, but too often our fervent engagement leads to excess, and then to defect as we lose perspective as to what is the reality of Christ versus the illusion of both political reach and the “saviors” who we invest with power, and then entrust to “bring things about.” Once that perspective is skewed, we are out of balance, and the best of our energies ends up being spent on the wrong thing. Misplaced.
Somewhere between reasonable political engagement and the political junkie-ism that foments idols and false messiahs there is a balance; when we move away from it, we move, necessarily, away from where Christ tells us to be; we venture too near the secular-solution-seeking Judas.
In light of all of this, my piece at First Things this week is generating some fascinating discussion among people pondering how to strike a that balance and what it really means and then, where to begin?:
For many, and for me, the election signaled the crossing of a Rubicon of sorts: twin-towering notions of Exceptionalism and Indispensability toppled for less conspicuous walk-ups of Isolationism and Nanny Statism; the running out of a clock, all illusions lain aside.
As might be imagined, the column generated an unusual amount of email and social media action, some of it jeering at the hilarity of my “apocalyptic pronouncements,” some grousing but in agreement, and some wondering, “so, what now? What do you mean by ‘playing strictly for God’ and how do we begin?”
My answer might surprise you. I am calling for Apocalypse and you can read it all here. It is about, in fact…First Things.
And hey, don’t be shy about commenting! Interested in what others are thinking about the topic.
The people obsessed with religion redefine a nativity scene
Meanwhile, writing in the Evangelical channel (my take is that the Evangelicals, who have been more passionately dedicated to the political stuff, thanks to the religious right are also trying to establish a new balance) is saying the religious argument in politics is essential. I don’t disagree, but methods and tactics may have to change.