Don't sidestep the Abortion issue.

The abortion issue was used successfully against Kerry, with lethal consequences. Obama's campaign needs to tackle this charge head-on, instead of playing defense. He certainly isn't on the losing side of this debate, not by a long shot - and especially not in the Christian context.

Given that abortions have been occurring since the beginning of time, and given the tunnel vision and hysterical tones adopted by many conservative Christians on this subject, it's interesting that the number of times the word "abortion" appears in the Bible is: exactly ZERO. Jesus' mission on earth was to effect a change of heart and soul - to almost the exclusion of affairs of the world. He showed little desire to change the political or social landscape, and seemed averse to dismantling laws of the time - hence "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, give to God what is God's".

The New Testament also emphasizes the importance of motivations of the heart over the deed. For example, the exhortation in Matthew 5:27-28: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (NIV). Passing laws against abortion would have little impact on one's desire to have one. Overturning Roe v. Wade would do little to effect a change of heart.

Many in the pro-life movement bring up the numbers of abortions since the beginning of time, to draw comparisons to the holocaust - and to juxtapose these against the numbers of war casualties. The key deception here is that the hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq resulted from the decision of one man, or one cabal of men; one key decision that robbed so many of their lives. In contrast, the millions of abortions are a result of millions of personal decisions and desires - desires that that (as explained above) won't change by outlawing abortion.

My personal position on this issue is nuanced - I do believe that life begins at conception. The point to be emphasized, however, is that the legality of abortions should never have been a rallying cry for Christians, who would do better to instead address the root causes of poverty and other social ailments behind such a decision.

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Obama's Private Prayer

A chance look into the nominee's private thoughts, penned and deposited at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site. A local newspaper made the controversial decision to publish the prayer, retrieved by an orthodox seminary student - an act usually considered taboo.

The senator asked for courage, wisdom, humility. From Time:

Obama didn't pray for an election victory, a lottery win to help pay for his campaign, or for his Republican rival Senator John McCain to be felled by lightning or a pecadillo. On the contrary; his prayer hints at the struggle within, how Obama is seeking divine guidance to surmount the obstacles that lie ahead of him in his lonely, awesome challenge to become the next president of the United States. On hotel stationary, he penned the following prayer, according to Maariv, which ran a photo of the note: "Lord, protect my family and me," Obama wrote. "Forgive me my sins and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will."

Remarkable words, from a remarkable man.

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