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Friday, September 25, 2009

Obama and John 16.3

On August 26th I posted an entry which pointed out that reports of President Obama muddling John 3.16 and John 16.3 were false. The following comment is what I said at the end of the post:

'The problem is that this particular story has been used before and is, in fact, no more than a legend. It certainly has been used against Kerry and Bush to name two politicians, and no doubt there are many more as well.'

Checking through my Blog stats, I notice that, individually, there are more searches for items relating to this fallacy than any other. What becomes obvious from that is that there are a great number of people who would seek to put Obama down. I wonder why. Is it because he's the first black president? Or is it because of the draft of reforms that he's been busy steam-rollering through on Capitol Hill? Or is it perhaps something far more sinister than that?

We live in an Age when there is so much turmoil in the world that people are looking for someone to blame for their feelings of financial and emotional insecurity, and who better to knock down than those appointed to lead nations. I'm not one of the army of people who think that Obama is the greatest news since the inception of sliced bread, but surely, if reports are to be broadcast about him, or anyone else for that matter, then it's important to get the facts straight by verifying the report first.

An old adage says that 'If you cannot say anything good about a person then it's better to say nothing.' Well, that generally applies, but at the same time, sometimes you find it difficult to say good about someone because there is little that fulfils the requirements that qualify the category when speaking of politicians. One of the facts about leadership is that once appointed to lead there will always be those who seek to pull you down for one reason or another.

So, what about the fable about Obama and John 16.3/3.16? Perhaps, rather than seeking to pull Obama down by misrepresenting what his speech-writers got him to say, it might have been better to ask him, off- the-cuff, what other verses in the Bible he particularly liked. What, for example, would have been his second and third favourites? Had he been able to answer with little or no hesitation then it would have been credible to credit him with a knowledge of the Bible which came from himself rather than his speech-writers.

Edmund Burke is credited with the saying that 'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.' Despite this saying being often quoted, it is believed to be a paraphrase because searches of his speeches do not turn it up as quoted. However, the sentiment of the phrase is nevertheless true. So, should we continue to heap coals on the heads of those appointed to lead, or should we blindly accept that everything they do is great? I guess that one only has to look to the relatively recent past to find the answer to that. Perhaps the mere mention of either President Nixon, Johnson or Clinton, might answer the question as far as US politicians go. Alternatively, here in the UK, one need look no further than politicians such as Blair or Mandelson.

I guess that the answer lies in being vigilant, and in order to do that it requires people firstly to be interested enough to seek out the facts rather than believing every scurrilous rumour --- and there are always plenty of those --- that is published abroad about people.

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