DIGEST: Liberating the Founders and Doubting Obama

Liberating the Founders
October 30, 2008
NPR’s Speaking of Faith Podcast, with Krista Tippett

With the presidential election approaching, we return to an evocative, relevant conversation from earlier this year with journalist Steven Waldman. He’s done an unusual study investigating how the culture wars have skewed contemporary Americans’ sense of how we came to have religious liberty in the first place. He understands why 21st-century struggles over religion in the public square spur passionate disagreement and entanglement with politics at its most impure.

Doubting Obama: A Response to Harper’s and Simon Critchley
By Linell Cady
November 18, 2008

The November issue of Harper’s includes the transcript of a talk given by Simon Critchley, chair of philosophy at the New School, aptly titled: “The American Void.” The talk, a meditation on the enigmas of belief in Barack Obama’s piety and politics, provides a window into the president-elect’s existential universe and, by extension, our own. Critchley correctly notes that Obama has made belief in the common good a cornerstone of his campaign, and that his popularity rests in large part on his ability to inspire such belief in others, however sporadically and momentarily. What Critchley can’t get over, however, is the feeling that there is more impossibility than possibility in Obama’s religio-moral vision, summing up his—and our—dilemma thusly: “we must believe, but we can’t believe.”

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