home
RSS
October 22nd, 2013
12:05 PM ET

The prayers inside the President's Blackberry

Opinion by Joshua DuBois, Special to CNN 

Washington (CNN) - One thing is for sure: I didn't feel ready to send morning devotionals to the next President of the United States.

I was a young staffer, 25 years old, on Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. I had known Obama for a few years, and at the time worked as faith outreach director for his campaign.

In addition to my professional role reaching out to the faith community, I also personally prayed for Obama by myself each day. I had been an associate pastor at a small Pentecostal church in Boston, and my Christian faith was, and is, the guiding force of my life.

But I wasn't some famous mega-church pastor or internationally known cleric. I went to public policy school, not seminary, and although I loved Scripture and history and could write a bit, I was still learning more about Jesus every day.

But one day I felt a tug at my spirit, a sense that this young candidate needed some support. Not Secret Service protection or policy advice or political strategy - he had plenty of that. I thought he needed some folks who were caring for his spirit, his soul.

So I wrote an e-mail and sent it to Obama's personal BlackBerry, a meditation on the 23rd Psalm. It was about finding restoration and rest even when trouble brews.

I didn't know how he would respond. But in just a few minutes, he got back to me and said the message helped him, and he'd like me to continue each day.

We kept this quiet practice for years, spanning the campaign and the White House. But one day in a round table with religion reporters before his visit with then-Pope Benedict XVI, Obama reflected on what these devotionals meant to him.

“One last little note of sustenance, a little note is, is that Joshua does a wonderful service for me and he actually sends me a devotional on my BlackBerry every morning,” Obama told the reporters, “which is actually something that he started doing I think when I was really having a tough time during the campaign.

"And it was just such a wonderful practice that we’ve continued it ever since. So every morning I get something to reflect on, which I very much appreciate.”

MORE ON CNN: What's next for President Obama's 'pastor-in-chief'

I wasn't always sure which meditations the President liked best, but he would tell me on occasion in the West Wing hallway, "I really enjoyed that one today," or when I missed a day or two, he'd notice that as well. And his former personal assistant, Reggie Love, would call me to make sure I started sending them again.

The President seemed particularly to appreciate the devotionals that wove together culture with Scripture, and he is a fan of history and jazz, so I came back to these sources regularly.

He’s pretty private about his spiritual life, but here are a few of the devotionals that, knowing what I know about the President, were likely to be among his favorites:

1. One devotional tied together King David, the Hebrew monarch and psalm writer and Nina Simone, the great jazz singer. Both musicians had an uncanny ability to write joyful lyrics even in the middle of the dark melodies and situations.

The devotional concluded with a point I thought might be music to the Obama's ears.

"Nina Simone and David remind us of one unimpeachable fact: whatever situation we face, the lyrics we sing today are completely up to us. We can choose to shout above the din outside our window and sing louder than the ominous noise approaching our lives."

2. Another devotional reflected on rejoicing even amid tough times, using the lesson of the late British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, who led a beleaguered Britain from 1916-1922.

George was faced with an economic crisis, the Irish Liberation movement and World War I all at the same time. Still, he once declared with a smile, "I find that a change of nuisance is as good as a vacation.”

This reminded me of a verse on joy in suffering in 1st Peter, which I shared with the President. “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”

MORE ON CNN: In Obama’s first term, an evolving Christian faith

3. Another meditation began, "Johnny Cash was a glutton for redemption."

Growing up in Tennessee, I became a big fan of the "Man in Black," and this devotional reflected on the need to run toward grace, as Cash, a sinner and saint par excellence, did so often.

We often have a tendency to hide our sin in the dark, instead of bringing it to God’s feet. Cash was remarkably candid about his shortcomings, and his daily need for grace - that’s something from which we can all learn.

4. And another favorite expounded on the example that Eleanor Roosevelt set for us on humility.

"I'm glad I never feel important - it does complicate life," she was known to say.

In the way she lived her life, Roosevelt echoed the words of Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Humility paves a pathway to relationships with others, while pride always tends to get in the way.

5. Most of the devotionals weren't about tough times or political figures at all.

They were simply about how to appreciate the character and nature of God, and grow closer to him each day, even among people who’d like nothing more than to see us fail.

One day, I decided to include this quote from James Baldwin, the great 20th-century writer, who said, "I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain."

The devotional concluded with a prayer of forgiveness for those who had wronged us, and a request that God would help heal any underlying pain.

There were many more - thousands over the years - and I've tried to capture the best of them in my new book, “The President's Devotional.”

While Obama's day-to-day life is certainly unique, at a deeper level, I imagine that the joys and challenges he meets aren’t too different from our own.

Like us, he wants to how to love God and those around us and how to start each day with real, lasting peace.

I hope my devotionals, which I still send to the President every day, have helped him find a little oasis of spiritual peace in his e-mail inbox, and I hope they’ll do the same for others as well.

Joshua DuBois is author of "The President's Devotional: The Daily Readings that Inspired President Obama" and former head of the White House faith-based initiative. You can find more about him on his website, www.joshuadubois.com

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Barack Obama • Belief • Bible • Christianity • Faith • Obama • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (555 Responses)
  1. Caleb Boone

    Dear Reverend DuBois:

    "Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones." Proverbs 16:24

    Praise the Lord for your pleasant words of faith, strength, joy, wisdom and the Love of Jesus, every day, to our President!

    Hallelujah!

    Sincerely yours,
    Caleb Boone.

    October 27, 2013 at 8:08 am |
  2. Observer

    (Gen. 7:21) “And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and ALL HUMAN BEINGS”

    Oooops!

    October 26, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
  3. niknak

    Maybe he can get a prayer in their to fix the ACA website......

    October 25, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
  4. These aren't devotions

    I just did a search on this page to see how many devotions that this fellow sent to President Obama had the name "Jesus" in them.

    None.

    CNN Religion Writers, these aren't Christian devotionals; this is self-help garbage.

    October 25, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Max

      He didn't post every word of what he sent to the POTUS. He gave you the opening lines. How can you know what else he has sent? You don't. How interesting do you think this story would be if he had just said, "I sent these to the President: "Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus."?

      October 27, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
  5. Atheism is the natural state of children and every living thing

    Their lies couldn't change things

    October 24, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  6. Ann

    "He’s pretty private about his spiritual life, but here are a few of the devotionals that, knowing what I know about the President, were likely to be among his favorites:"

    Translation: Here are some examples of what I think are my most mind-blowingly clever comments. The President didn't give me any feedback so I'm hoping the rest of the world will read them and realize how awesome I am.

    October 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Crom

      Spot fucking on.

      October 24, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
      • G to the T

        +1

        October 25, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  7. Adam

    This guy's just showing off how clever he is and pitching his book.

    October 24, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  8. Rad Brad

    Why's it gotta be a Blackberry?

    October 23, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • G to the T

      He's had one since before he was originally elected. I remember it was a big deal if he was even going to be able to keep it (security reasons). Almost no high-technology product can be considered truly "american" anymore, the design/manufacturing process is so international these days.

      October 25, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  9. Neo Agnostic

    Prayer changes nothing

    October 23, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Agnostic old school

      I don't know if prayer changes anything or not.

      October 25, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  10. Alias

    Inspiration is not always religious.
    Good deeds can inspire peopel, or great accompliments.
    A lot of the wisdom in the bible is also taught in the koran and found in Confucius quotes.

    October 23, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • bostontola

      True.

      October 23, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Vic

      Natural Revelation is to everyone. Now, many aspects of the Natural Revelation are emphasized in scriptures and incorporated into whatever religious law.

      October 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
      • Maddy

        It has been Naturally Revealed that you use italics in a completely random manner that makes you posts look retarded.

        October 23, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
        • sam stone

          If you think that Vic's italization is what makes his posts look retarded, you have not been paying attention

          October 24, 2013 at 4:47 am |
        • sam stone.

          italicization, that is

          October 24, 2013 at 6:25 am |
      • G to the T

        "Natural Revelation" is a theological ploy, not an accurate model of reality. If it were true, we'd be better off without the prostelizing because then it can be muddled by people being lousy witnesses. Just live well and be a good example to others. That's the best anyone can do.

        October 25, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  11. Charm Quark

    Truth
    Your reference from the JVCI that I could find on Venter was from 2003, a lot more science has been done since then.

    October 23, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Truth

      replied back at the original thread

      October 23, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  12. bostontola

    Without man, there would be no god(s).

    October 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • Alias

      My cat would dissagree.

      October 23, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Without all of God's sons there would be no way to create the celestial universes of which all humanoids exist in and upon...

      October 23, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • Akira

        Without daughters, you'd be non-existent.

        October 25, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Deep thoughts by Jack Handy

      I made many gods. I made you. I am man. I am hungry.

      October 23, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  13. Apple Bush

    She danced
    Each jewel on her gown flying outward
    Perhaps never to return
    Each shiny gem in a cloud of total darkness
    She danced and she sang
    Her gown twirling like a pinwheel faster and faster still
    Soon to become many
    And many to become light
    And that light to become trillions of sparkles
    Still she danced
    And now the swirls were as giants dancing
    And the dancing giants would collide in beautiful confusion
    And the spinning would last forever

    October 23, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  14. Moderate this

    You free speech denying sons of bitc hes

    October 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  15. Lionly Lamb

    "Make the most of the Indian hemp seed and sow it everywhere."- George Washington

    October 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      LL, you COF, what is going on with your brain? What?? Stop already.

      October 23, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  16. Apple Bush

    I saw a sunset and it was perfect.
    Why do you ask me to see another?
    For in waiting for the next sunset, I will endure much suffering!
    Perfection exists in the suffering too.
    Be thankful for the pain.
    Did I not thank you by loving you?

    October 23, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  17. bostontola

    What can potentially change things:

    Ask – Pray
    Do – Charity, kindness, generosity, work,...

    I am more moved by doers than askers.

    October 23, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  18. midwest rail

    My responses to Topher have just disappeared. Have my 1st amendment rights been infringed upon ? No. Have I been discriminated against ? No.

    October 23, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • Charm Quark

      mid..
      Mine too. Just when I was trying to sic J Craig Venter on Topher's delusion, it could have been fun.

      October 23, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • Topher

      I can still see your responses.

      October 23, 2013 at 11:22 am |
      • Charm Quark

        Topher
        So what is your opinion on a team of scientists creating a thriving, self replicating new form of life without the necessity of god? Re...J Craig Venter.

        October 23, 2013 at 11:34 am |
        • Topher

          I don't like it. But I doubt they started with nothing. We can't even make a grain of sand when you start with nothing.

          October 23, 2013 at 11:36 am |
        • G to the T

          Just keep pushing those goal posts back Topher...

          October 23, 2013 at 11:42 am |
        • Topher

          My goalposts are firmly planted and have not moved. But keep up with your dishonest attempts to make me look that way. You're so trustworthy. Tell me more about your worldview.

          October 23, 2013 at 11:52 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Topher
          You do not like it, of course you don't it does not conform to what you want to believe. I challenge you to search the J Craig Insti tute and maybe learn something outside of your belief system, will you or can you do that? I am guessing you won't even try that is why others on this blog find you so sad, willfully uninformed.

          October 23, 2013 at 11:53 am |
        • G to the T

          Topher – wow! Way to make snap judgements. I'm honest to a fault and if you knew me, I'm sure you would see me as being trustworthy. The "goal post" comment was in response to what I saw in the coversation. You had previously posited that science cannot create life. Someone posts evidence that they have and you come back with "yeah but they didn't do it from nothing". That moving the posts in my opinion. Indeed, even Yahweh is supposed to have started with some raw matierals so I'm not even sure what your point is. See, honest 🙂

          October 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
        • Truth

          http://www.jcvi.org/cms/research/projects/first-self-replicating-synthetic-bacterial-cell/overview/

          So basically they took the DNA of a certain bacteria and digitized it. Then modified the digital code and reverse digitized it back into a DNA sequence. Then constructed chemicals from pre-existing chemicals to fully synthesize a self-replicating bacterial cell. Creating? No, bio-hacking at best.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Topher
          Sorry, should be J Craig Venter Insti tute, not that you will but there is always hope.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
        • Topher

          G to the T

          "You had previously posited that science cannot create life. Someone posts evidence that they have and you come back with "yeah but they didn't do it from nothing"."

          Well, of course. They didn't really create anything. They used things that already existed and changed them up. So my position stands as it was. We do what they do in labs all the time. Big deal. See Truth's comments above mine. He beat me to it and he's exactly right.

          "Indeed, even Yahweh is supposed to have started with some raw matierals so I'm not even sure what your point is."

          No, God started with NOTHING. He created everything from nothing. We can't do that.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
        • Topher

          Charm Quark

          "Sorry, should be J Craig Venter Insti tute, not that you will but there is always hope."

          Actually, I did go there. I'm in agreement with Truth's comments on it. It's not doing what God did, they didn't really create something out of nothing. Heck, the first test-tube baby was in 77 or 78?

          October 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Truth
          Not quite. Would encourage you to read..
          Living Science..Tech section
          Article on Craig Venter by Tanya Lewis
          Oct 22/2013
          that provides up to date information. A quote.../
          "Insofar as the team created an organism capable of thriving and self-replicating, Venter and his colleagues created life.
          Were they playing god?
          In the restricted sense that we had showed with this experiment how god was unnecessary for the creation of new life, I suppose we were," Venter writes in hi new book."

          October 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
        • Topher

          Charm.

          They used things that already existed. They weren't playing God.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
        • common sense

          great... let them make their own raw materials.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Truth
          Your reference from the JCVI that I could find on Venter was from 2003 a lot of science has been done since then.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
        • G to the T

          "No, God started with NOTHING. He created everything from nothing. We can't do that" Could have sworn I read something about god creating man from dust and eve from a rib... hmmm... now where did I see that.

          Now it seems you are saying – "Man cannot create matter from nothing". I'd agree with that, especially since there's a whole law about the conservation of energy, but I think you (and Truth) are missing the bigger point. At what point would you be willing to acknowledge that someone has created life "from scratch"? Whithout that, it's pretty much a moot argument as we'll never agree to knowing when the question's been answered.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Topher
          Thanks for that line. "They used things that already existed and changed them up." That is what nature does Topher, it is called evolution, you are making slow progress in understanding what is real and what is myth.

          October 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • Truth

          Charm
          "Your reference from the JCVI that I could find on Venter was from 2003 a lot of science has been done since then."

          That article was just an overview of the project with references to research done in 2003, 2008, and present time. The article was smack dab in front of their homepage.It doesn't really matter though. I was just simply stating my opinion about it.

          October 23, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Truth
          Well I hope you do not deny the medical benefits that come out of this science, that the JVCI is using and what may be accomplished in the future. Bio-hacking is hardly an opinion that is useful on science that can be so beneficial.

          October 23, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
        • Truth

          I definitely do not deny to benefits of the research that the institute is doing. Im a big supporter of medical science especially when my son's life was saved by its technological advancements. As a Christian, I believe our knowledge comes from God. So not only do I thank the medical team that saved my son's life, but also God who gave them the life and knowledge to do so.

          October 23, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
        • I wonder

          @Truth,

          And other people's sons who die, well, that's just "God's" will, and they are in a better place, etc., right? This "God" character gets all of the rationalized passes for 'his' behavior that you all can muster. Why would you want to prevent your son from moving on to that better place anyway?

          October 23, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
        • America, our country is bankrupt...cut the spending

          life only comes from life. Spontaneous generation is a myth. All life has a life giver.

          October 23, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Amer...
          You may want to look into life forms at deep volcanic vents, for example. Or possibly RNA the building blocks of DNA found in gas and dust clouds found around young stars. Or the discovery of more and more planets being found in the Milky Way that are possible Earth like planets that could host life as we know it or some other forms of life.

          October 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  19. bostontola

    Kindness changes things.

    October 23, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Yes, it most certainly does.

      October 23, 2013 at 11:20 am |
      • sam stone.

        Robert: If god has a plan, isn't changing his plan blasphemous? Do you purport to know more than god?

        October 25, 2013 at 8:21 am |
      • sam stone.

        going to answer, robbie?

        October 25, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      No question. Plain and simple. Be kind and we all benefit.

      October 23, 2013 at 11:29 am |
      • common sense

        Without Prayer there is no kindness

        October 23, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
        • bostontola

          Silly.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
        • bostontola

          Bonobos frequently display kindness and other altruistic behavior. Do Bonobos pray?

          October 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  20. Apple Bush

    Topher, I like you. What disappoints me is you cannot answer any questions with your own brain. You have an external brain, the bible, that does all your thinking. That makes you less than human. I will no longer talk to you if you mention the bible in your response.

    October 23, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Russ

      @ Apple Bush: yes, why would the Bible be relevant on the belief blog?
      it's not like it's the most read, most widespread, and arguably the most influential book in history... ahem...

      your position is simply the mirror image of those you mock. it's a knee-jerk reaction – and ironically one equally controlled & dictated by the opposing position. if you believe your position is logical, why fear free & open discussion of the Bible? your current position is almost Orwellian, if not outright censorship.

      October 23, 2013 at 11:09 am |
      • Charm Quark

        Russ
        Christian thinking at its best, 5 billion people totally ignore or think the bible is just another poorly written of fiction, sure to your lot it may be the most influential book in history, not so much to everyone else and is getting less and less influential as time goes by.

        October 23, 2013 at 11:17 am |
        • Russ

          @ Charm: "5 billion people totally ignore..." – this is precisely the sort of overstatement that illustrates my point.

          are there people unaware of the Bible? sure. but 2 of 7 people on the planet don't just claim to know it, but to surrender to the God they say wrote it. that's not including the wide swath of Western Civilization's interwoven influences (e.g., can you read Shakespeare without knowing the Bible?). and that requires completely ignoring the *ongoing* growth of Christianity, which is booming in Asia & Africa... which just happen to be the centers of global population growth.

          for example, take China & Africa: China kicked out all the missionaries in 1949. best estimates: there were less than 10 million Christians in the country. now, even the most conservative estimates put that number over 100 million. Yale scholar Lamin Sanneh notes that around 1900 there were roughly 9.8 million Christians in Africa. Today there are over 380 million – that's 7-10x the population growth in that time period, and 4x the growth of Islam.

          even if you believe Christianity is lunacy, to censor any discussion of the Bible is not only intellectually self-defeating (since much of civilization & history is foundationally interwoven), but it requires a denial of reality (Christianity is still growing today).

          October 23, 2013 at 11:42 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Russ interesting Christian view, you can't seem to see outside your box. I prefer Ghandi.
          I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
          Two billion Christians, when the likes of Topher maintain there are only about 7% that are worthy to called Christians. How about you how many are true Christians, you cannot even agree among the different sects until it is time to brag about how numerous you all are.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Charm Quark:
          1) ah, Ghandi. is he being honest about Jesus? don't you think less of a man who marries a fool for a bride? and imagine Ghandi's scenario lived out: Jesus comes over to Ghandi's house *with his bride in tow*... is there ANY way for Ghandi to invite Jesus in while telling his bride to stay outside that is not utterly offensive & unacceptable?

          2) you seem to fail to understand the basic distinction of Christianity. every other religion says "only the good people get in." but Christianity *begins* by saying "only the bad get in" – because it's only the bad who recognize they need a savior. good people are their own savior. that's not Christianity.

          3) you're still dodging my point. Christianity is pervasive – and globally MORE relevant today than ever.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Russ
          Whose Christianity is pervasive? The SBC does not recognize the RCC as Christian and the Mormons don't recognize the Jehovah's witnesses as Christians, etc. Saying Christianity is increasing by numbers amongst the poor and uneducated maybe true, but in Europe and USA/Canada the numbers are going down.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Charm Quark:
          1) you said: "saying Christianity is increasing among the poor and uneducated..."
          that's a rather ethnocentric perspective. and you can't have it both ways – either the other "5 billion people" on the planet matter or they don't. most of them are poor & uneducated. do you have to be wealthy & educated to count as a human being? again, your ethnocentric belief system is showing... and your argument is self-contradictory.

          2) per your attempt to dodge the pervasiveness of Christianity by appealing to the various denominations...
          while there may be thousands of denominations, historically orthodox Christianity has always celebrated certain central tenets. for example, the Apostle's Creed is almost as old as Scripture itself. this Trinitarian formulation of the basics of the faith is affirmed by ALL the major branches of Christianity (Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox) – which represents the vast majority of those claiming the name of Christ.

          in sum, despite the differences on more minor points, the 2B Christians on the planet are all in agreement on what matters most.

          October 23, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Russ
          Yes of course Christianity is one large loving mass of 40,000 differing sects that from time to time try to kill each other off in one war or another. How can you possibly claim that Christianity is pervasive while you admit 2 out of seven declare themselves as Christian and there are major areas of the world were Christians are treated as pariah and are persecuted? As to dodging the pervasive question let me refer to the dozens of other religions that dominate the other 60% of the worlds population that are not Christian.

          October 23, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Charm Quark: you continue to try to dodge my point.

          1) you said Christianity is less & less influential. I gave you FACTS to the contrary: both sociologically, historically & numerically.
          2) you then attempt an end run through ethnocentrism – which I point out is self-defeating for you.
          3) you then appealed to the various perspectives within the 2 billion. but in attempting to make that large number seem problematic, you actually both defeated your other argument (about its irrelevance and lack of pervasiveness) while also unintentionally pointing out the very opposite of the point you were attempting to make – the primary unity underlying a vast & varied swath of people.

          Christianity is widespread & pervasive. Not only numerically, but unlike any other major religion, it is uniquely, virtually equally represented across the 5 major continents (w/ roughly 20% of Christians on each one). no other major religion is anywhere near as equally spread. yes, Europe is in decline, but not nearly compared to the rate of growth in Africa & Asia – which is where the world population growth is as well. again, something directly contrary to your own earlier arguments about relevance.

          and you still haven't addressed the multidisciplinary influence of Christianity outside of the religion itself: literature, history, educational systems, socio-political developments, etc.

          yes, Christianity has been misused. but it also has done great constructive things. you can talk about both of those. you can contrast them. but to claim it has little or no influence, or even a shrinking influence, is simply a denial of reality.

          October 23, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Russ
          Well we certainly have differing opinions, I see you having a narrow myopic Christian view point that may deny what is happening no matter what. In my area dozens of Christian churches are closing down and in most of Europe you can pick up an old fixer up church dirt cheap. The influence of christianity is waning at an ever increasing rate, no matter what you say.

          October 23, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Charm Quark: myopic? I give you statistics & facts about worldwide growth, backed up with multiple examples on varied disciplinary topics. you respond by talking about your neighborhood & your limited experience. do you not see the problem? I'm not the one being myopic.

          October 23, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        Russ, I am speaking to Topher, not everybody else.

        October 23, 2013 at 11:25 am |
      • Alias

        Without the bible Europe may have never had its dark ages.
        I'll admit that did have an influence.

        October 23, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Alias: you are attempting to re-narrate history. Read Rodney Stark's "The Rise of Christianity" to get a realistic view of the radical changes Christianity brought about in the Roman Empire... many of which are *assumed* as rights in modern Western Civilization. and then of course there's many people like William Wilberforce and MLK – both of whom adamantly appealed to the Bible as the basis for their fight for human rights.

          Put down the broad brush. this is not an either or. There are times when Christians have done horrible things in the name of Christ (Crusades), but it is their own Bible that calls them out for doing such things.

          October 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
        • Alias

          Russ
          I try to aviod reading books that are written with agendas.
          Or at least I keep the source in mind.

          October 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Alias: there is no such thing as a book written without an agenda. the premise of the book is in itself an agenda.

          yes, keep the source in mind. but while you're at it – are you equally skeptical of your own skepticism? why put so much confidence in yourself when you exhibit so little in everyone else?

          October 23, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
        • Alias

          Russ
          You are confusing a bias with an agenda.

          Adn what is this skepticism in everyone else and confidense in myself garbage?

          October 23, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Alias:
          1) so you buy into the myth of neutrality? who can be detached in these discussions – especially when it means certain life-altering inherent changes to have a paradigm shift. no, there is no such thing as an unbiased writer on ultimate things. to claim to be unbiased is an admission of a lack of self-awareness.

          2) you "avoid reading books with agendas." so you are skeptical. fine. be skeptical. but be consistent. be skeptical of yourself as well. it's not garbage – it's consistency. are you willing to turn that skeptical lens on yourself (i.e., your own agenda)? or are you only skeptical of others?

          October 23, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
      • hawaiiguest

        @Charm

        I think the more accurate statement is that Christianity is waning in the industrialized world. In less developed countries where the churches send missionaries to trade food for land to build churches and give sermons, Christianity is on the incline.

        October 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
        • fred

          hawaiiguest
          You are on a roll since your return! Keep up the good work.

          October 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
        • I wonder

          hawaiiguest,

          The assistant pastor at the local Catholic church is from Kenya (few can understand a word he says, but most know the schtick already). Very few priests are seen anymore who come over from Ireland, as was prevalent 40-50 years ago.

          (our convo was deleted last night wherein I told you "welcome back and you were missed.")

          October 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          hawaiiguest
          Great to see you back. I agree with your post but how long will the new Christians be around when the aid runs out. I would think the help the people get from the Gates Foundation, for example, will be more appreciated, no strings attached. BTW if you have not been following the blog it looks like Bill Deacon has departed the scene I hope for good.

          October 23, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
        • Russ

          @ hawaiiguest: isn't China in the midst of possibly the largest industrialization on the planet right now? considering the ongoing growth of Christianity there, that pokes a rather large whole in your theory.

          October 23, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          @fred

          Are you acknowledging that the "aid" the churches give in the undeveloped nations have strings attached?

          @Charm

          And how would the aid run out? You got the Vatican, a multi-billion dollar criminal organization, and you have mormons, who HAVE to tthe 10% of their income, I mean Romneys tithes could probably fund the whole thing by itself, and then you have all these other "charitable" organizations that bilk money from thousands of people. Aid will not run out.

          @Russ

          1) Have any citable sources on that?

          2) Even if your statemtent is verified, what's your point? You pick one country and think that proves a broader point said about the world in general?

          October 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
        • fred

          hawaiiguest
          "I think the more accurate statement is that Christianity is waning in the industrialized world."
          =>I agree because, even though Christianity in China is growing, a greater number of Christians in the industrialized world really express the Holy Spirit in their outward and inward actions towards others. In other words we Christians certainly do not follow Christ like behavior.

          "Are you acknowledging that the "aid" the churches give in the undeveloped nations have strings attached?"
          =>Certainly some do. I doubt there would be any to figure out how prevalent it is. Now, the purpose of establishing churches is to spread the gospel or Good News that Jesus has made a way for salvation to all who want it. Some may even call that a string in which case it should be prevalent. Giving aid and comfort however should flow from a heart that does not have any selfish root or desire.

          October 23, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          @fred

          I don't really care what the purpose of establishing the church is. The fact remains that they are holding food and water hostage until they are given land to build those churches. The purpose is moot, it is an immoral thing to do.

          October 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
        • Russ

          @ hawaiiguest:

          1) per China's growth, even the BBC has paid attention...
          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14838749

          2) it's not isolated to China (though many economists see China as the great industrial hub of the next century – so it is certainly a germane point).

          While Christianity has declined in Europe and has only held its own (at best) in North America, it has been growing at many times the rate of population in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Now the majority of Christians live south of the equator. Christianity is growing more rapidly than any other faith, but the vast majority of believers will be neither white nor European nor Euro-American. [ Phillip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (Oxford, 2002), p.2. ]

          October 23, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
        • fred

          hawaiiguest
          I would not doubt there are some who are behaving immorally as that is the nature of man.

          We built a feeding center in Addis Ababa Ethiopia and before we began requested and received land with rights to erect a building. The building functions as a church (a roof covering several large rooms and kitchen without a cross or alter etc), feeding center and school. We needed a certain amount of land to water, feed 1,000 and teach modern methods. Our purpose was to aid their physical and spiritual needs. Exactly where is the immorality?

          October 23, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          @Russ

          You're citing a 2002 book to back up the claim of christianity being the fastest growing religion?

          Take a look at "en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growth_of_religion"
          There is a table taken from Todd M. Johnson and Brian J. Grim, eds. World Religion Database (Boston, MA: Brill; accessed January 2012) that shows clearly that over the last 10 years Islam has had the highest rate of growth.

          I'm not sure what you think your book reference actually shows, but the mere fact that it is over 10 years old means that the "current trends" it talks about is completely out of date.

          October 23, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          @fred

          And tell me, why did it need to be a church. Why is the prostelyzation even necessary? Doesn't it say in your book "By their fruits you shall know them"?
          Actions speak a lot louder than words, and the fact that you feel that adding in the religious baggage to the help given to those who are starving speaks volumes.

          October 23, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Hey HG, welcome back to the fun. I said hey last night, but it may have got deleted before you had a chance to see it.

          October 23, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
        • fred

          hawaiiguest
          We do not know what the world would look like without the continuing influence of a core belief held by the vast majority of humans that existence is more than physical needs and desires. Science can give a great deal of facts but philosophy and religion answer the questions of origin and purpose.
          We believe and have experience a spiritual aspect of existence that Jesus modeled for us. We want to pass that on to anyone willing to hear it. The water, food, housing, medical and education side of aid to the poor we should be doing anyway if our heart is in the right place. The spiritual need is important as most people fill that need somehow. We believe Christ is the best way to fill that need. Why would we not offer the best we know to others in need?

          October 23, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          Wow talk about completely irrelevant things.

          1) Your very first sentence is completely irrelevant.

          2) Science actually can and has been trying to answer the question of origins.

          3) Philosophy thinks about possible purpose, and religion merely makes assertions.

          4) You're talking about those "willing" to listen? Of course people will be willing when food and water is on the line.

          Jeez fred you really don't see anything wrong with holding aid hostage until after the prostelyzation do you?

          October 23, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
        • fred

          hawaiiguest
          "1) Your very first sentence is completely irrelevant."
          Hardly, our existence or perception of reality as we see it has been influenced by thousands of years of people believing in God or gods. You cannot divorce the physical from the spiritual. Thus if I give food it is not unreasonable to give spiritually

          "2) Science actually can and has been trying to answer the question of origins."
          =>you are correct as to trying but science cannot answer the question of origin of life.

          "3) Philosophy thinks about possible purpose, and religion merely makes assertions."
          =>Jesus made more than assertions. He told the apostles to wait until the Holy Spirit was upon them then carry the message. They waited the spirit came upon them and the Gospel spread throughout the world as Jesus said it would. This was not an assertion it is fact it happened just as Jesus said and you cannot deny that.

          "4) You're talking about those "willing" to listen? Of course people will be willing when food and water is on the line.

          Jeez fred you really don't see anything wrong with holding aid hostage until after the prostelyzation do you?"
          =>there are no hostages. Some stop in from other villages when they need medical, food or other help. Most actually want to know why we give things instead of take like others that actually do hold them hostage.
          =>when you are in a desert and find an oasis does the oasis hold you hostage?

          October 23, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          @fred

          Your first sentence is irrelevant. Your "spiritual" crap is not necessary to help others. Period. Twist all you want, that doesn't make it true.
          Got any justification for your blind assertion on science not being able to ever answer the question of the origins of life?
          All that crap about the "holy spirit" requires you to accept, a priori, that the bible is accurate in its description of events that took place. You're making assertions that the assertions are correct, not a very convincing way to make a point.

          And finally, your entire last paragraph is apples and oranges.
          I see you haven't been able to actually attain any kind of intellectual integrity since I left.

          October 23, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
        • fred

          hawaiiguest
          "I see you haven't been able to actually attain any kind of intellectual integrity since I left."
          =>cheers! the real hawaiiguest has returned, welcome back ! You had me worried, I almost digressed into an explanation of how Noah fit all those animals on one boat in order to see if this really was you.

          October 23, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          @fred

          And, as usual, you avoid actually addressing the problems in your posts in favor of irrelevancies and non sequitors.

          October 23, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • Topher

      Apple

      I like you, too. But why do you get to argue from your presuppositions and I can't? That's ridiculous. It would be like me saying you can't argue using an science textbooks you've read. Or ones on logic. Your premise is foolish. But if you must stop talking to me, I'll agree to your wishes. And I thank you for the conversations we've had.

      October 23, 2013 at 11:20 am |
      • Apple Bush

        The problem Topher is you NEVER answer a question. It is tired now. Have a good one though.

        October 23, 2013 at 11:27 am |
        • Topher

          I answered the question you asked me yesterday AND I didn't quote the Bible. How am I supposed to honestly answer you about Christianity if I don't use at least the knowledge from having read the Bible in my answer?

          October 23, 2013 at 11:30 am |
        • ?

          Topher you seldom if ever answer questions directly, obtuse at best, totally ignorant bible BS at worst. I will expect a question as a response, that is what you do.

          October 23, 2013 at 11:43 am |
        • Topher

          ?

          Nothing you said there added anything to the conversation. And that's not a question.

          October 23, 2013 at 11:53 am |
        • ?

          Topher you are a snivelling coward am I not correct? You proved it today whining about being discriminated against when other posts were deleted also. About being a coward, that is a ????

          October 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
        • Topher

          ?

          "Topher you are a snivelling coward am I not correct?"

          You are not. Snivelling, maybe. But not a coward. You must not even know what that means.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
        • ?

          Topher
          I agree with sam, you are a coward, you would rather let something else take your well deserved punishment.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
        • sam stone

          ?: Gopher bloviates on and on about how "just" god is, then does everything he can to AVOID that justice. He is a coward and not worth engaging in conversation.

          October 24, 2013 at 4:55 am |
      • Madtown

        Topher answers all questions, because ALL answers are to be found in the bible.

        October 23, 2013 at 11:33 am |
        • Topher

          Not true.

          October 23, 2013 at 11:37 am |
        • Madtown

          I'm being sarcastic, but that appears to be your opinion.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
        • Topher

          When we're talking about Biblical things, the Bible does have the answers. It is completely sufficient to demonstrate how we can be saved ... to describe our history ... to know who God is, in fact, to KNOW Him. That's all I'm saying.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
        • Madtown

          Then you're wrong, 'cuz God didn't write it. I'd also prefer a way of thinking that allows ALL humans to be "saved", not just those that have access to a specific human-crafted message.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
        • Topher

          Madtown

          "Then you're wrong, 'cuz God didn't write it."

          He inspired man to write it, fine. I think we're just squabbling over semantics. Every word of it is considered to have come from God.

          "I'd also prefer a way of thinking that allows ALL humans to be "saved", not just those that have access to a specific human-crafted message."

          All humans CAN be saved. But even the ones who do have the Bible or know the standard to be saved reject it. I think logically you've got to get past that first. Otherwise, even those who currently don't know about Christ would reject it if they knew.

          October 23, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
        • Madtown

          I think logically you've got to get past that first
          ---
          You used the word "logically", LOL!! 😉

          October 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          @Topher

          In regards to yesterday:

          "The very first description of Messiah is Genesis 3:15. Dude, I'd suggest you read and understand something before you reject it"

          And here is Genesis 3: 15
          And I will put enmity
          between you and the woman,
          and between your offspring[a] and hers;
          he will crush[b] your head,
          and you will strike his heel.”

          That being the curse your god put on the serpent. So how is this a mention of the "messiah"? Are you just throwing out random bible verses and hoping that it fits what you're talking about?

          October 23, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
        • sam stone

          "He inspired man to write it, fine."

          More conjecture from the ground dwelling rodent

          "I think we're just squabbling over semantics"

          No, he is challenging your assertion

          "Every word of it is considered to have come from God."

          Only by those who accept it.

          October 24, 2013 at 4:58 am |
      • Science

        Hey Topher

        You might like this

        Texas Textbook Publishers Say No To Creationism: Watchdog Report .
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/18/texas-textbooks-creationism_n_4124692.html

        October 23, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • Interpreting Apple

      "You better shut your mouth when you're talking to me!!!"

      October 23, 2013 at 11:25 am |
      • Apple Bush

        Are you talking to me? Then shut your mouth.

        October 23, 2013 at 11:28 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.