I bring a batch of advance reader copies to Slog Happy for everyone to enjoy, with the caveat that the person who reads (or tries to read) the book has to review it for all of us here on Slog.
Today’s reviewer is the awesome Enigma, who has already reviewed one book for us this week—she might read as quickly as me. Enigma is reviewing The Faith of Barack Obama, by Stephen Mansfield, a book exploring the faith of our president-elect. Let's see what she thinks. Anything you don’t like about this review no doubt is due to the editing process and not at all Enigma’s fault and you should blame the editor. I am the editor.
Barack Obama is a man of great faith. Throughout the campaign we saw his faith exploited to vilify him on the right and the left. The right questioned the patriotism of a man who they believed lived for a while in his youth as a Muslim and who now belonged to a church led by, to their minds, a radical, paranoid black man. The left questioned him for having faith at all and for being so staunch in his faith that he considered one of Bush's programs—the Faith-Based Initiative—a good idea.
Mansfield wrote this book before Obama was even the Democratic nominee, but he writes about the hope that Obama brings to the field of politics in raising the public discourse on faith and reason. Mansfield repeatedly says that even if Obama isn't elected in 2008, we know he will be a force for many years to come.
Of course, we did win. We elected a reasonable, intelligent man to office, one who also is deeply religious. In the secular Northwest, we're used to glossing over discussions on religion. We ignore that which can't be explained away. But faith is a part of our lives as Americans. Mansfield shows how Obama is toning religious polemics down and is trying to supplant it with a reasoned discussion.
Most political books are obsolete as soon as ballots are cast, but this is one that all Americans should read to understand the journeys our new President has been through in his life. In understanding the beliefs a person holds, we understand how they make decisions. And Obama will be making a lot of decisions that affect us for the next four years.