Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Stephen Colbert Vs. the Eight Religions that Run the World; Obama Calls on God in Oil Crisis

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I love Stephen Colbert's interviews with authors. How he purposely misunderstands makes me laugh; however, his show is a spoof of Fox's O'Reilly factor, and I think Bill O'Reilly does not misunderstand on purpose. He actually does not understand.

Colbert interviewed Boston University religious scholar Stephen Prothero recently, who is also a CNN contributor, has written the book, God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World.

Pothero asserts that "pretending all religions are the same doesn't serve to understand the world." Furthermore, he tells Colbert that you can't understand cultures influenced by specific religions if you don't understand the religion. Yes! I've said that before myself. If you ignore the Judaeo-Christian influence on America, you're missing a big piece of the political puzzle.

Last night, Queen of Spain, aka Erin Kotecki-Vest, said on Twitter that she was uncomfortable with Obama's god talk in one part of his speech. I understand why she was, but I also understand why Obama did that. While Americans may be less devoted to Christian religion than they once were, there's still a large part of this nation who reverence God as presented in Christianity.

Furthermore, despite an increase in atheism, more people believe in some concept of God or see themselves as "spiritual" than don't. So, if a president is dealing with a crisis of the magnitude of this BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, something he clearly cannot fix simply by issuing a command, then calling on God in public is the smart thing to do in America.

President Obama talked about faith in general in the latter part of his remarks, and then moved on to religious faith. That made sense because people in Louisiana are heavily Roman Catholic, and the rest of the states impacted by this spill in the south are also religious, many of them Southern Baptist. Plus, Obama himself has had to show people he's a Christian, remember.

From his speech:
It's a faith in the future that sustains us as a people. It is that same faith that sustains our neighbors in the Gulf right now.

Each year, at the beginning of shrimping season, the region's fishermen take part in a tradition that was brought to America long ago by fishing immigrants from Europe. It's called "The Blessing of the Fleet," and today it's a celebration where clergy from different religions gather to say a prayer for the safety and success of the men and women who will soon head out to sea -- some for weeks at a time.

The ceremony goes on in good times and in bad. It took place after Katrina, and it took place a few weeks ago -- at the beginning of the most difficult season these fishermen have ever faced.

And still, they came and they prayed. For as a priest and former fisherman once said of the tradition, "The blessing is not that God has promised to remove all obstacles and dangers. The blessing is that He is with us always," a blessing that's granted "even in the midst of the storm."

The oil spill is not the last crisis America will face. This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again. What sees us through -- what has always seen us through -- is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it.

Tonight, we pray for that courage. We pray for the people of the Gulf. And we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
BTW, here is video of President Barack Obama's speech from last night.



Critics in the media were unimpressed with the president last night, from what I've been hearing. They say they didn't hear enough of a plan. David Gergen, political analyst, said, "Enough is enough! After the latest failure by BP to plug the gaping hole, it is time for President Obama to take full command of this growing national catastrophe. Immediately!"

Jason Linkins asked at Huffington Post, "What was the point?" He says all he saw was sentiment. Jason must have missed my memos that Americans prefer theatrics to substance. Or maybe Jason wanted more theatrics. People don't seem to get that we are screwed on this oil spill. We were from day one. I've said this before.

Naturally Obama heard immediately from Republican opponents as well. They don't want to hear that he will push for more regulation nor do they like his reminders that oil resources are finite and it makes sense to overcome our addiction to fossil fuels. They continue to show they are the party of shortsightedness. I don't think anyone is saying we can wean ourselves off in a day, and so, I think "the party of no" plays to American ignorance by behaving as though Obama is irresponsible to talk about getting off the oil pipe.

And down here we have Gov. Bobby Jindal. Even after this spill, he's saying the same thing he said in 2005, ignoring the risks and not considering how Louisiana should diversify its economy because he's in it for the short haul, or as one person said on Facebook last night, "We keep talking about our culture, seeing this oil disaster destroy that culture, and yet we still scream to drill even during this crisis."

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