Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Obama's Journey

In myth and literature disperate heroes often take a similiar path. Professor Joseph Campell first quantified then popularized this in his landmark book "The Hero With a Thousand Faces." In that book the monomyth is outlined in five steps: a call to adventure, a road of trials, achieving the goal, a return to the ordinary world, and applying the boon. Abraham, Herculeus, and Luke Skywalker were all given a call to a journey, they all faced trials, grew, changed, overcame, and applied. If Senator Obama's journey were to be put onto this continuum the last few weeks would inevitably been seen as his time of trials.

Barack Obama came from almost nothing, an obscure, mixed background, rose through academia, and eventually through politics. He accepted the call to seek the Presidency of the United States in the face of incredible odds. His meteoric rise was the stuff of legended, unchecked. It blazed its own path like a Roy Hobb's fastball. But then his tests truely began.

Questions of his patriotism arose when his pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright was seen on YouTube condemning America. Obama dispatched this controversy, like the killing of the many-headed hydra. But when he turned his back the heads grew back as before and struck. Who could have written that narrative? That a man Obama once considered a mentor would turn on his prodigy and attempt to strike a fatal blow? Et tu, Brute?

Wright siezed his moment in the national spotlight, gave a series of inflamitory interviews from Bill Moyers to an appearance before the National Press Club, at incredible and incalculable expense to Obama's campaign. The last thing the Senator from Illinois needed as his outspoken minister re-connecting him to fringe elements of society. Once again Obama was put to the test.

This time he repudiated.

His anger was broiling just under the surface, seething at the betrayal. As he explained on "Meet the Press" this morning, his decision to finally and unequivicabbly disavow his pastor was the result of Wright's decision to "double down" on his previous statements. Where Obama had once given the minister the benefit of the doubt, the minister took the opening to increase the doubt in voter's minds about Obama's judgement and perception of America.

The father had turned on the son, and the son had to strike him down.

Obama called Wright's interviews a "specticle." And used further strong language painting Wright's positions as absurd and outrageous. If it was Wright's goal to restore his self-image, Obama did him far greater harm than he had ever done himself.

What people like about Obama is that he seems reasonable and thoughtful. He is a man of incredible talent but it is also doled out in even-measurements. What people cannot stand about Rev. Wright and fanatical religion is that there is no limit. It assimiliates everything in its path into one perspective--an iron-clad black-and-white snare that allows for no grey areas, no real judgment.

Rev. Wright reprents so much of what is positive about religion--as an empowering force to for good in society, as represented by his church's community outreach and prison ministry. But he also represents so much of what is wrong with religion--an almost total disregard for anyone outside of its path, a source for division, and a catalyst for hatred. In this, Rev. Wright makes a compelling villian in our story--one with a nature that afflicts us all: the duality of man.

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