Obama’s “Christian by Choice”

Recently President Obama made public comments about his faith in response to a question.  Yet, the response shows very limited understanding of essential Christianity and rather points to the same sort of “eternal principles” that echoed throughout Glen Beck’s speech.  He really points to “finding our own” grace, loving others, and finding humility. None of which serve as what is essential to Christianity, which is the true humility of turning to self from God.  Rather it takes the sacrifice of Jesus, trivializes it, and includes in among many paths. So here, President Obama has chosen the “Christian Ethos” from many paths.  Yet his words indicate he is far from Jesus. He is about  the “Imago Dei,” the seeing God in other people and encouraging others to “find their grace.”  The ONLY place grace if found in Jesus. And one can only truly see God in another when they indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Anything else is a twisted, distorted image that has not been straightened. Read the words for your self, let me know what you think.

“I’m a Christian by choice,My family, frankly, they weren’t folks who went to church every week. My mother was one of the most spiritual people I knew but she didn’t raise me in the church, so I came to my Christian faith later in life and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead. Being my brothers and sisters’ keeper, treating others as they would treat me, and I think also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we’re sinful and we’re flawed and we make mistakes and we achieve salvation through the grace of God.”

 “But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people, and do our best to help them find their own grace. That’s what I strive to do, that’s what I pray to do every day.’’ Yet he said that as president, he also “deeply believes that part of the bedrock strength of this country is that it embraces people of many faiths and of no faith.’’

“I’m also somebody who deeply believes that part of the bedrock strength of this country is that it embraces people of many faiths and of no faith,”  “This is a country that is still predominantly Christian. But we have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists and that their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own.”

Movie Commentary: The Blind Side- Building up others by acts of faith and love.

The Blind Spot is a must see movie.  The movie brings to the big screen the story of Mike Oher and the Tuohy family.  It tells how the Tuohy’s came to reach out to Michael Oher and his life was changed, as was theirs.  The movie was filled with excellent acting from all members of the cast with Sandra Bullock leading the way.  This is a movie you leave impacted emotionally.   The movie does show that it was not just the Tuohy’s involved in changing Michael’s life but many choices along the way. There was “Big Tony” Henderson, Mrs. Beasly, and Miss Sue all who made choices that helped Michael.  Now the reality is that the movie is powerful but the story alters from the facts to fit the director’s vision.   The full details of the story can be read in detail in Michael Lewis’s book: The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.  A sampling of the story can be found in a New York Times article written by Michael Lewis titled: The Ballad of Big Mike. It gives a fuller grasp of the elements of the true story. Regardless the movie in the film is powerful. 

Now the film gives a perspective related to the change fighting with the director John Lee Hancock’s viewpoint. In an interview, John Lee Hancock indicated that he did not feel the Tuohy’s faith was a major factor in the story; it was simply part of who they were. In his mind, it could have been anybody.  The story was about the way a young man was helped and how both touched each other’s lives. It is a story about actions that changed a life and the relationships involved.  Many of the lines used by the director/writer in the book are quotes taken from statements made by those involved.  Not at some level, John Lee Hancock also alludes to social trends and the lives of those who do well compared to those who do not.  It showed the real dynamic of acts of love not being trusted by others, and being fueled by motives of secondary gain.  Rather, the movie significantly displays that lives were touched as people responded in keeping with who they were. That this story has such strong impact that it reflects acts of love even if you remove the contributions of faith to the story. 

An interesting element of the director’s take on the story was the focus on protectiveness.  A measure of “protectiveness” is added as a measure of intelligence to portray that Michael Oher had a profound sense of protectiveness and loyalty. He cared for others and truly needed to connect with others.  Family is seen as the primary need and a comparison is even shown between those that reach out in love to those that use and destroy (Tuohy’s versus drug dealer/gang.) Ultimately, Michael was shown to care so much about others that he would protect at cost to his own self.

Another element the direct highlighted was that we all have blindsides or blind spots.  Michael constantly is protecting himself from the painful memory of separation from mother.  Near the end of the film the character talks about surviving by simply closing his eyes.  Emphasis was also pointed out toward how others can be blind to real need and giving is just a superficial part of being in society and giving out of surplus.  The Tuohy’s though went beyond that, and like the Good Samaritan reached out when others may not have.

Personally, the film for me showed the importance of giving in such a way that builds up another, reflecting the love of Jesus.  It did serve as part of the inspiration of the giving challenge issued in an article written on Black Friday. The Tuohy’s gave and it touched Michael Oher in a way that built him up and touch not only his life, but now the life of millions of other people.  Their act of love ultimately draws attention and glory to the King of Kings.  Sure, they are now famous, but famous for living the life of people following God’s lead and helping others.  Their actions were not an act as evidenced by the reaction of Sandra Bullock to exposure to the family. In an article by Terry Mattingly, Sandra Bullock stated “This family, they were themselves for no other benefit other than because they wanted to reach out, lend a hand, and had no idea that they would get a son in return” and she also as indicated that she regained “faith in those who say they represent a faith. I’ve finally met people that walk the walk.”   For those of us who follow Jesus and entered into the kingdom of God, that is words the uplift.  As Leigh Anne Tuohy stated in that same article “We absolutely believe that none of this was a fluke. This was God-driven from the start.” Life was lived in love in such a way that others see the actions and see ultimately Jesus as faith and deeds match.  The Tuohy’s in their actions truly reflected Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

So for any reading this commentary, if you haven’t seen the movie please do so.  And if you have, take a look at yourself and whether you follow Jesus or not, examine how to walk in love of others by giving in ways that touch others beyond the superficial and in a way that builds them up.  Michael Oher’s life was changed by such actions.  It is not about whether a person is built up enough to develop worldly success, rather it is about touching a person that elevates and enables them to walk with confidence into the journey of life.  



 

Sean, Leigh Anne, and Michael