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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008
City of Obama

I read with amusement Vox's link to the recent cover of New York Magazine with the lede of:

In New York, reverence for Barack Obama has long been approaching the level of worship, and last week’s spontaneous eruption over his election had the feel of an ecstatic religious celebration. But the peculiar thing about this faith is that it is rooted in a belief above all in reason—and underlying all the excitement on the streets was the wonder of what it might be like to belong to a reality-based nation again.

Faith rooted in a belief of reason? Ecstatic religious-like celebration over an election?

Where to begin?

About 400 AD with Augustine of Hippo

Augustine was one of the first to try and integrate the rationality of the Ancient Greeks with the faith and revealed word of Christianity, so I feel he would have much to say about our times. The Greeks, starting with Pythagoras and continuing through Plato, trumpeted the rationality as a tool for discovering truth. Augustine in turn accepted the validity of the Greeks in that their rationality could be used as a tool to fight fanaticism, but found their world view lacking in the larger theological truths.

For a Christian, to ascend in truth one must at some point turn to faith and strive for the ability to know an immaterial God. For Augustine, while one couldn't perceive God, one could come to know him because the individual could conceive of him through the use of faith. In defining this perspective, Augustine provided a strong intellectual foundation for the early church, one on which today's Christian apologists construct their own arguments.

Now I'll admit that "faith ... rooted in ... above all in reason"smacks of the anti-clerical elements of the French Revolution. Even more distressing their supposedly unique and superior linkage of faith and reason, is as such is culturally illiterate. You get the feeling that the writer uses the laden terms of Western Civilization much like a child would use a sword and with about the same result.

I try not to cherry-pick articles to make larger points, but it's hard to top this piece as a neat summation of the cultural contradictions and national self-loathing (and it is self-loathing) of those who have treated the election of Senator Obama as a transcendental, as opposed to historical, moment.

You wonder if people like the writer, as they pass the chruches and cathedrals of their city, wonder if the religion contained therein would have anything to say about their feelings over the last 2 weeks