Reporter's Note: President Obama has often cited his religious faith as a touchstone of his life. He’s not alone in that. Here is my Sunday letter to the White House.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
How is your spiritual life going these days? I don’t mean to pry, just wondering. People seem so sensitive about such things, I’m not sure you should even answer. If you speak too openly about your faith, you’ll be ripped for mixing politics and religion. If you don’t do it enough, people will say you are faithless.
I mentioned yesterday that I am on a college hunting trip with my elder daughter, and that what has me thinking about this. She wants to go into aerospace engineering so we are looking at a lot of schools with great programs. This weekend it is the University of Colorado and the Air Force Academy. The point is, we are in Colorado, the place where she was born, and as we were planning the trip she had one question before all others: Could we go to our old church?
It meant a lot to me, not because I am over-the-top religious, but because some of the happiest people I’ve ever known have a deep abiding faith that gives them a certain peace of mind no matter what life brings. I can’t ascribe their “sense of well being” to any one denomination or belief set. Some are Christian, some are Jewish, some are Muslim, some are even agnostic and/or atheist. I know: it just got confusing.
What I’m saying is that all of these people have this in common: They believe in something bigger than themselves. They have faith that some cause matters more than their own appetites. For me, that “bigger something” is God. I believe that for all the problems and disputes we have as humans about how we interpret our faiths, God is the great unifying force of eternity and if we can’t fully understand God’s plans or ideas, well, it’s no surprise. I still don’t really understand the lyrics of “Macarthur Park.”
(Cake out in the rain? Is that a euphemism?)
Don’t get me wrong: I also know plenty of people who go to church all the time, profess great faith (or great faithlessness,) and are just generally jerks. What I’m talking about positively here, are people who, day in and out, show their belief in a greater good, a greater history, and a greater sense of values beyond the tiny orbit of self.
Anyway, I try to respect the beliefs of others and not impose mine upon them. But I make no apology for my faith either, and please take it as nothing more than a heartfelt reminder when I ask how your spiritual life is doing; if you are a person of faith as you have said, do not lose your faith in the rush of your job, your fame, or anything else that swirls around you.
Because while you are President, your faith will be the one thing we you can absolutely rely on when the toughest times come your way. And long after your presidency is done, what you really believe in will be what gives your life joy, order, and meaning.
As always, call if you feel inclined.
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