Jewish Journal

Even Muslims think Obama is the messiah

by Brad A. Greenberg

February 5, 2009 | 6:09 pm


Before hearing that President Obama’s first interview since taking office was with Al-Arabiya, Reuters asked the Grand Mufti of Bosnia what he thought of the new American leader:

Americans “think that they have elected him, but I believe that he was elected by God,” Mustafa Ceric told the news service. “Barack Obama is one of these most noble goods of our time and our civilisation, that is why I think he is a gift of God,” he said. “At the moment we feel a trend to change. Whether this change will be really in practice and life, we need time to see.”

There was, of course, plenty of pondering during the presidential race about whether Obama would save the world, or at least America’s reputation in it. And when he won, thousands of committed supporters were left to wander the streets without purpose. I really don’t see how Obama is going to live up to these expectations. But, like Ceric said, we need time to see.

Writing for the Christian Post, Ken Connor warns that Obama is, afterall, “just a man.” He writes:

President Obama will inevitably stumble, he will not live up to all of his promises, and he will not be able to solve every national crisis. In the midst of the Inauguration hoopla, let us pause to recognize the limitations of his humanity and his post.

In reality, no one man can save a nation. A number of voters who placed such great hopes in an Obama Presidency have already been disappointed—and he has only just taken office. His decisions during the Presidential transition period raised many questions and much commentary, but one thing is clear: even before he took office, people’s illusions about Obama were fading. He left many of his most fervent supporters wondering why he appeared to be waffling on his campaign promises.

Realism is the grease of the gears of politics, so it should not surprise us that President Obama has already been qualifying his previous campaign promises and dampening the hopes of his supporters. Regardless of their political stripe, no politician ever fulfills every campaign promise. The wheels of Washington grind much too fine for that. Those who put their dreams in the hands of politicians inevitably will be disappointed.

We would do well to remember that President Obama is merely a civil servant. He operates in the political realm. Having just taken office, he is confronted with an array of national problems, including disintegrating families, an ailing economy, a two front war, and a bubbling cauldron in the Middle East. Many of these problems have roots that extend far beyond the political realm. They involve cultural, moral, and spiritual issues. As the nation’s top political leader, Mr. Obama will not be able to address the root causes of many of our problems. To the extent that these problems have political dimensions, our new President can and should address them. But beyond the civil realm, other cultural institutions (church, family, local communities, etc.) must take the lead.

For too long, Americans have looked to the President to solve all of our country’s social and moral problems. In particular, many Christians have succumbed to this temptation.

For past posts from the Balkans, here’s one about “The religious impetus for a sovereign Kosovo” and another about “A Muslim at Hebrew Union College.”

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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