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Change We Can Believe In? Revisiting Obama's Presidential Campaign Slogan for 2013

Black news from Pasadena - Religion - Revisiting Obama's presidential campaign slogan for 2013The Lord said to Moses, "Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'" The Lord said to Moses, "I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation." But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, "O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, 'It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth?' Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, 'I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever."' And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people. (Exodus 32:7-14, NRSV)

When Barak Obama announced his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States of America back in 2007, he ran off the platform: "Change We Can Believe In." His platform asserted that change was needed from the old politics of the Bush administration's tax plan (giving tax relief to the nation's wealthy) and war that stretched the economy and nation into Iraq and Afghanistan. This mantra of change signaled that Obama would end the war, give more economic relief via creating more jobs for the lower and middle classes across the nation, and become that dream (for many) of being the first African American President of the United States of America. As he was sworn in as the 44th President, many beamed with joy and hope, while others watched in amazement and disbelief. A change had come upon us.

The nation appeared to be on a road to a new direction. Soon the country would witness the passage of a universal health care bill and a timeline and exit strategy for ending the war in the Middle East. But also during this new administration, and in the wake of unprecedented gun violence spanning across the country, from Aurora, Colorado, to the recent massacre of elementary school children in Newtown, Connecticut, in addition to gun killings in the inner cities of Chicago, LA, Atlanta, and other places, came the realization that a gun control debate was long past due.

Additionally, the redefinition of marriage would see legal passage in many states, It would be endorsed by an Obama Presidency, and soon be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2013 session. A change has come, and these changes are all around.

I remember the movie, I'm Gonna Get You Sucka, where the character played by Antonio Fargus, after being released from prison, appeared upon the screen dressed in the same attire from the days he first was incarcerated. Sporting a bright yellow outfit adorned with a zebra print pattern, platform shoes, bellbottom pants and an open butterfly collar shirt, he was a throwback to the past. As a result of his time behind bars, he either did not realize or keep up with the changes that occurred in society, or he simply refused to embrace these changes. He, essentially, was left behind, disconnected with what was current. With all the changes in our society, surrounding us, and in the world, a nagging question beckons each of us heading into 2013: "Have we prepared for or embraced the new changes around us?" "Have we been able to offer a thoughtful response?" Obama's change we can believe in' requires a response on many levels. Yes, we have witnessed the election of the first African American President, but with this has comes new views and social ideas.

Have we realized these changes? Still at the dawn (the second decade) of the 21st century, we are dealing with previously unknown changes and challenges concerning economic and job stability, domestic, family (marriage) and cultural normative notions and unprecedented gun violence.

It is no secret that most Protestant churches and nearly every historical Black church denomination in America (the Progressive and National Baptist Conventions, the Christian and African Methodist Episcopal bodies and the Church of God in Christ) widely rejects the new notion of marriage equality. With regard to gun violence, a recent MSNBC statistic noted that in 2012 alone there were some 215 gun deaths throughout the nation. Changes in our culture warrants a response, a repositioning and, perhaps, an adjustment. In the Exodus passage, Moses appears to have changed the mind of God concerning his decision to bring destruction to a disobedient people. In the Exodus passage, God demonstrates the ability to change with no less being the immutable God - omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient.

The ability and agility to adjust and/or respond to change without being "conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2, also see John 17:14-16) is what we must do going forward in 2013. The change we can believe in is the change that we hear and have heard the Lord speaking deep within us; this notion is called letting our lives speak. Let your life speak, and then respond.

[Dr. Jamal-Dominique Hopkins, Ph.D., University of Manchester, England, is Founder Director of J.D.Institute and Scholar-in-Residence at St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Georgia, is the author of "Ecclesiastes" in the African Bible: Reading Israel's Scriptures through Africa and the African Diaspora (Fortress Press), 2009, and "Duty or Responsibility? The African American Evangelical's Identity" in the Journal of African American Christian Thought 1 (2009). Hopkins is available for preaching, lecturing, speaking or conducting workshops or seminars. You may contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .]

 

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