Faultless or Flawed?

Could it be that we are setting President Obama up for failure? Don’t get me wrong, I think Obama is very inspiring and I actually believe that he is going to try to follow up on the things he said. I also expect him to go down in history as one of our greatest presidents. However, my point is that all he can really do is try to follow up on the things he said. And there are some areas that I agree with him strongly, and some other areas where I think he is off the mark. Yet as I hear our President being talked about on the news and on the corner, he is often talked about as though he is Perfect. It is as though he has been ascribed Divine characteristics in the midst of our troubling economic times. This often happens to great people when they die, like Martin Luther King for example has become larger than life. People now want to dispute any human wrong mentioned in reference to him, because his legacy has become larger than life, especially after he died.

A huge problem for President Obama is that he is not dead, but rather he is alive and just beginning his presidency. He is bound to slip and make a mistake a time or two in his presidency. What will be the reactions of the people who thought they were following a God-Man, and instead found out he was just human after all. It’s a mighty big fall when you let people lift you up so high. How can we stop seeing him as Divine even as we continue to support and pray for him? Are we instantly seen as opposed to him if we critique him as a man and hold him accountable as a man? Flow with me on this, do ya agree or disagree?

Published by Drew G. I. Hart, PhD

Drew G. I. Hart is a theology professor in the Biblical & Religious Studies department at Messiah College with ten years of pastoral experience. Hart majored in Biblical Studies at Messiah College as an undergraduate student, he attained his M.Div. with an urban concentration from Missio Seminary in Philadelphia, and he received his Ph.D. in theology and ethics from Lutheran Theological Seminary-Philadelphia. Drew was born and raised in Norristown, Pa and has lived extensively in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA as well. Dr. Hart’s dissertation research explored how Christian discipleship, as framed by Black theologies and contemporary Anabaptist theologies, gesture the Church towards untangling the forces of white supremacy and the inertia of western Christendom which have plagued its witness in society for too long. As two traditions that emerged from the underside of violent and oppressive western Christian societies, he found Black theology and Anabaptism each repeatedly turning to the particularity of Jesus in the gospel narratives. From that arises an ethic of solidarity with the oppressed and pursuing liberation in Black theology and an ethic of radical peacemaking and ecclesial nonconformity in the Anabaptist tradition. Each challenge the violent and oppressive logics of mainstream western Christianity and salvage the call to follow the way of Christ. Together in dialogue they deepen our analysis of the churches failures and the need for Jesus-shaped repentance. His work beyond teaching and writing has included pastoring in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, working for an inner-city afterschool program for black and brown middle school boys, delivering lectures and leading anti-racism workshops, collaborating with local faith-based organizers and activists in his city, and doing a broad range of public theology. He is also a co-leader for a local Harrisburg faith-based relational network called FREE Together which has collaborated with POWER Interfaith, MILPA, the Shut Down Berks Detention Center movement, and a little with the Poor People’s Campaign. Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew Hart, has received great reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and Englewood Review of Books. Endorsing this resource, Shane Claiborne said, “This book is a gift from the heart of one of the sharpest young theologians in the United States. Hold it carefully, and allow it to transform you--and our blood-stained streets.” As a text, Trouble I’ve Seen utilizes personal and everyday stories, Jesus-shaped theological ethics, and anti-racism frameworks to transform the church’s understanding and social witness. Trouble I’ve Seen focuses on white supremacy as an overarching framework for understanding racism, with careful attention to its systemic and socializing dimensions. However, unlike sociology textbooks on the subject Dr. Hart also considers the subversive vocation of Jesus and the nonviolent yet revolutionary implications his life ought to have for his followers today. His newest book project is entitled Who Will Be a Witness?: Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance and will be published September 1, 2020. Who Will Be A Witness? invites the church to liberate its centuries long captivity to supremacist practices, and to expand its restricted political imagination in view of Jesus’ messianic reign. The book guides disciples of Jesus into joining God’s delivering presence through scriptural reasoning, historical reflection, practical theology for congregational life, social change theory, and the Christian call to love our neighbor. It is written for congregations, leaders, and students that understand that pursuing God’s justice goes way beyond waiting around for electoral seasons to come around. It is about the ongoing vocation of the Church right now, at the grassroots level, seeking after the wellbeing of their neighbors through faithful, strategic, and concrete action. Drew recently joined the Inverse Podcast team serving as a cohost along with Australian peace activist Jarrod Mckenna. Together they interview interesting people and explore how scripture can turn our ethical imagination and the violent and unjust systems of our world upside-down, which contrasts with interpreting the Bible as a tool for the status quo. Dr. Drew Hart was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, a 2019 W.E.B. Dubois Award from a Disciples of Christ congregation, and in October 2019, Dr. Hart was chosen as Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Each award recognized him for his local and national justice work and public theology. You can find Drew Hart on Twitter and Facebook, or you can catch him as he travels and speaks regularly across the country to colleges, conferences, and churches. Drew and Renee, and their three boys (Micah, Dietrich, and Vincent) live in Harrisburg, PA and attend Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren.

2 thoughts on “Faultless or Flawed?

  1. I think those who critique him are treated as the fringe.
    I also think that many will never see his mistakes because they are so convinced in their mind that he can do no wrong. This is the scary part. He could lead us off a cliff and many would walk right off after him like the dumb sheep who don’t know how to think for himself.
    I expect Obama to be a great leader in many respects (I have some major concerns as well), but even great leaders make mistakes.

  2. In regards to President Obama’s flaws and mistakes (past, present and future) some folks I’ve talked to have this attitude: “So what if he (Obama) messes up? White Presidents been messin’ up for years. It’s our turn.”

    Obama mania is not just about him, it’s even filtering down. A couple of sisters who watched the inauguration on TV remarked to me that they didn’t particularly like one of Michelle’s outfits. I happened to mention it to someone who went to the inauguration and is a staunch Obama supporter. You’d have thought that i said something bad about Jesus.

    I believe he’s going to do a lot of good, and I too take issue with some of the things he has already done. We all know the inevitable end of deifying a man. No good can come of it- not for us, or for him.

    God is my source. The job is a conduit. If I lose the job, God will open another conduit. Like Daniel in the Old Testament, I expect to be blessed regardless of who is in the White House. President Obama may prove to be one of the greatest men who ever led this country, but he’ll still be a man.

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