O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith


Obama on Faith and Doubt

posted by Jason Boyett

I’m sure you heard about President Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame over the weekend. It was not without some controversy among pro-life groups at the Catholic university. He addressed the abortion issue by calling for a reduction in abortions, working to reduce unplanned pregnancies, promoting adoption and working to care for mothers who do carry their children to term. And he called for these steps while also honoring the conscience of those on both sides, whether they’re pro-life or pro-choice, even though both sides won’t likely ever reconcile.

As we’ve come to expect from the President, his remarks were thoughtful, calm, well-reasoned and not at all inflammatory — and offered something for both camps.

But that’s not what caught my attention about his speech. The part I loved was this statement about faith and doubt, as the President challenged the students to hold tight to the religious and moral values they’d been taught at Notre Dame. “Stand as a lighthouse,” he told them…

——-

…But remember too that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. It is the belief in things not seen. It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us, and those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own.

This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness.

——-

I love that last line, and it’s something I discuss in O Me of Little Faith, which releases next year from Zondervan. Doubt and faith are not polar opposites, but companions. And doubt is not entirely negative. It keeps us humble. It keeps us from arrogance. It helps us remember that our understanding is limited. And in a world of religious extremism (Christian and otherwise), those are good things — very good things.

You can watch Obama’s Notre Dame commencement address or read its full transcript here.

[Thanks, Matt, for the tip.]



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Serenity

posted May 20, 2009 at 9:55 am


Like you say, I’ve come to expect this from our President, but that was so beautifully said. Such an important concept for today’s Christians. We’re completely irrelevant without a little doubt. If people are sure of anything, it’s that no one can possibly know everything.



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shueytexas

posted May 20, 2009 at 11:23 am


How long ’til that dude named Anonymous comes in here and ruins the party with charges of baby-killing and Socialism?I say 10 minutes, tops.



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Lauren

posted May 20, 2009 at 11:47 am


I’m from Indiana so there was a lot of buzz around here about the whole commencement ordeal. Friends of friends were posting comments on facebook about going to ND to protest. After I heard about the protesters getting arrested for being idiots (if you want to protest, stay off campus!), I was THIS close to throwing a fit via my blog, but I didn’t. Instead I read the whole transcript, found that passage about doubt and read it about 50 times with awe, then quoted it in my facebook status. Gandhi would be proud, eh?But really, I just have a hard time understanding why people are protesting the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES speaking at their university. It’s not like he is the spokesperson for Planned Pregnancy or whatnot. That just irks me. (Turns out I decided to rant on your blog instead of my own.)



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Anonymous

posted May 20, 2009 at 12:02 pm


This is reminiscent of the fawning-over-politicians-who-will-speak-our-language that politically conservative Christians have been guilty of for the past 30 years. Caesar is still Caesar and he always looks for ways to distract the Church from its true calling. Ocasionally there may be common cause between Caesar and the Church, but the notion that someone should take spiritual advice from a sitting president is ridiculous.



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Jason Boyett

posted May 20, 2009 at 1:03 pm


Thanks for stopping by, Anonymous, just like shuey said you would! While you are correct in identifying me as ridiculous, you are wrong in placing me among the politically conservative Christian camp.Because everyone knows I converted to Shintoism a few months back.



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Matt

posted May 20, 2009 at 1:16 pm


Jason, I don’t think Anon was calling you conservative. He/she/it was simply comparing your fawning to their fawning over the last 30 years. Regardless, I’ll take spiritual advice wherever I can find it: from a sitting president or a death row inmate. That’s because my doubts are strong and need assault from all directions.By the way, I noticed that the Obama speech at ND was misreported by many news outlets. It was reported that the students drowned out hecklers with chants of “Yes, we can.” While there may have been some saying that, the far more dominant chant was the less political “We Are ND.”



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Anonymous

posted May 20, 2009 at 1:27 pm


Matt – thanks for helping Jason with his reading comprehension skills. Try reading rather than reacting next time, Jason.Matt – all truth certainly is God’s truth, but I’d listen to Balaam’s donkey before I’d trust ANY politician for spiritual insight.



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Jason Boyett

posted May 20, 2009 at 1:30 pm


How about this, anonymous? I’ll promise to read your posts more thoughtfully if you’ll 1) stop being so abrasive and 2) use your real name. Deal?



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shueytexas

posted May 20, 2009 at 1:40 pm


I think Jason offers a fine deal to Anonymous.Too bad Jason’s exposing himself as a hypocrite…some of us know “Jason Boyett” is really a small Asian woman whose nom de plume is an anagram of her REAL name, Jatos Bent Yo.(It’s also worth noting that another anagram of Jason Boyett is “As Job, Not Yet” which betrays the fact that Jason has not been put through a series of boil-covered, faith-testing crises. Typical cushy liberal blogger life.)



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Lauren

posted May 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm


shueytexas FTW!



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