Keeping a Watch On

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Monday, 10 November 2008

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Personally I am not expecting America to be any less imperialistic under Obama. I am expecting a more benevolent imperialism but imperialism just the same.

Paul Emmons

Very good thoughts. Indeed, I was first drawn to support Obama early in 2008 upon hearing that some in his campaign were involved with Sojourners, with which Stringfellow had been associated.

While it is probably only fanciful to think that Obama himself has any conscious knowledge of Stringfellow's thought, there are hints. First of all, of course, are the biographical resemblances: humble origins, sterling academic preparation, Harvard Law School, and years of work among the downtrodden in the inner city (not necessarily in that order). Secondly, the fact that this work put him in touch with those who, Stringfellow said, most naturally grasped his ideas, namely these poor people whose life experience they explained so perfectly. Third, the echoes that I hear in black liberation theology as expounded by James Cone (although I don't know it well). Fourth, the fact that Obama conducted a campaign in which ideology played a remarkably small role, and the fact that most of his appointments to date emphasize experience, competence, and breadth of views over some ideological standard.

I would certainly be encouraged if he read some Stringfellow before moving into the White House, or soon thereafter. I wouldn't doubt that he would find it right down his alley, and I can think of nothing better to help him keep a level head as he enters the palace of our Babylon.

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