Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Who Said It?

Can you guess which presidential candidate gave this speech last week? (I've edited it heavily to try to avoid giving undue hints.)

It's great to be here. I've been speaking to a lot of churches recently, so it's nice to be speaking to one that's so familiar. Clearly, the past 50 years have not weakened your resolve as faithful witnesses of the gospel. And I'm glad to see that.

It's been several months now since I announced I was running for president. In that time, I've had the chance to talk with Americans all across this country. And I've found that no matter where I am, or who I'm talking to, there's a common theme that emerges. It's that folks are hungry for change - they're hungry for something new.

But I also get the sense that there's a hunger that's deeper than that - a hunger that goes beyond any single cause or issue. It seems to me that each day, thousands of Americans are going about their lives - dropping the kids off at school, driving to work, shopping at the mall, trying to stay on their diets, trying to kick a cigarette habit - and they're coming to the realization that something is missing. They're deciding that their work, their possessions, their diversions, their sheer busyness, is not enough.

They want a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to their lives. They're looking to relieve a chronic loneliness. And so they need an assurance that somebody out there cares about them, is listening to them - that they are not just destined to travel down that long road toward nothingness.

And this restlessness - this search for meaning - is familiar to me. I was not raised in a particularly religious household. It wasn't until after college that I confronted my own spiritual dilemma. I wanted to be part of something larger. I learned that everyone's got a sacred story when you take the time to listen. [The people at church] saw that I knew the Scriptures and that many of the values I held and that propelled me in my work were values they shared. But I think they also sensed that a part of me remained removed and detached - that I was an observer in their midst.

And slowly, I came to realize that something was missing as well - that without an anchor for my beliefs, without a commitment to a particular community of faith, at some level I would always remain apart, and alone.

So one Sunday, I put on one of the few clean jackets I had, and went over to Trinity Church. And I heard Reverend Wright deliver a sermon. And during the course of that sermon, he introduced me to someone named Jesus Christ. I learned that my sins could be redeemed. I learned that those things I was too weak to accomplish myself, He would accomplish with me if I placed my trust in Him. And in time, I came to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death, but rather as an active, palpable agent in the world and in my own life.

It was because of these newfound understandings that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity one day and affirm my Christian faith. It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany. The questions I had didn't magically disappear. The skeptical bent of my mind didn't suddenly vanish. But kneeling beneath that cross, I felt I heard God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth and carrying out His works.

But my journey is part of a larger journey - one shared by all who've ever sought to apply the values of their faith to our society. It's a journey that takes us back to our nation's founding. So doing the Lord's work is a thread that's run through our politics since the very beginning. And it puts the lie to the notion that the separation of church and state in America means faith should have no role in public life.

Question 1: Democrat, Republican, or Independent?

Question 2: Who is it?

You can find the answer here, and read the entire speech without edits, if you like.

And none of this should be taken as my endorsement of the candidate. In fact, I'm almost certain I wouldn't vote for this person. But it's nice to hear this kind of talk in the public square.

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