Waiting for the Preacher: Obama’s America in World Religious Context

Tags: Jack Miles

6 September 2010

Time: 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Jack MilesJack Miles, Senior Fellow for Religious Affairs with the Pacific Council on International Policy and Distinguished Professor of English and Religious Studies, University of California, Irvine.

Bill Clinton went to war to rescue Kosovar Muslims from Serbian Catholics and dreamed of reconciling Palestinian Muslims and Israeli Jews. George W. Bush left office embroiled in a war to reconcile Iraqi Muslims to one another. Strange errands, these, for a pair of ardently declared American Protestants! Now comes President Barack Obama, fathered by a Kenyan Muslim and raised for significant middle years by his atheist mother and a Muslim stepfather in Jakarta. Accused during his election campaign (and still) of being a crypto-Muslim, the man seems to send religious messages before he even opens his mouth. But what about that celebrated mouth? The vivid, if objectionable, language of “clash of civilizations” and “war on terror” has been replaced by–well, by what exactly? What is the religious (and anti-religious) world waiting to hear from a leader both acclaimed and mocked as a preacher? Or has the world already received its answer?

Jack Miles is Senior Fellow for Religious Affairs with the Pacific Council on International Policy and Distinguished Professor of English and Religious Studies, University of California, Irvine. A past MacArthur Fellow (2003-2007), Miles won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for his bookGod: A Biography, which has since been translated into sixteen languages. A former member of the Los Angeles Times editorial board, he has published shorter work in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the Atlantic Monthly, and other publications. He is currently general editor of the forthcoming Norton Anthology of World Religions.

Co-presented with Sydney Ideas.

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