I love oranges. They are pretty. They taste good. And they are even good for you. Since my hometown is Lakeland, Florida (World Citrus Capital), I also have an appreciation for the economic impact of oranges. Oranges create jobs.
But when about the composition of an orange, the specific nutritional elements contained within, or the best irrigation and environment in which oranges grow and thrive, I would plead ignorance. Even though I have walked and worked often in orange groves, even though my home was surrounded by citrus, in fact, my knowledge of oranges is superficial and merely observational.
So, too, is Obama's knowledge of faith.
For two weeks, I have been struggling to process President Obama's Cairo speech to the Muslim world. That speech reflects Obama's insipid comprehension of faith, a vapidness that is now becoming a part of so many of his speeches on matters of morals and ethics..
Were I to make grand pronouncements on oranges, anyone who knows anything about citrus would soon find me out to be a poser. Likewise, Obama's continuing pronouncements on matters of faith are reflecting poorly on his actual knowledge of it. Moreover, he is revealing the shallowness of his own personal faith, and his own lack of real formation or development. Instead of a robust, fully formed faith, what Obama is revealing is a warmed-over mush of sentimentality and nice feelings. As if all religion could be reduced merely to one or two rules (e.g., Be kind to one another). While we can afford for millions of humans to walk around with that misconception, it is not acceptable for the President of the United States to be making grand pronouncements and policy decisions about faith when he has no understanding of the issue. My ignorance of oranges is embarrassing; Obama's ignorance of faith is dangerous.
Three cases in point. And in all three I will give the prescription for Mr. Obama's spiritual and intellectual development in order to grow in faith rather than mire in mush.
Case 1: Islam and Religious History
In the Cairo speech to Muslims, President Obama says that he has encountered Muslims on three continents. I have encountered oranges on four. Does that give me any real knowledge of oranges? Not really. Again, I merely like them. I KNOW nothing substantive about them.