Posts Tagged Obama

Movie Review – Michelle Obama ‘Becoming’

If you have never been discriminated against, passed over through no fault of your own or felt the subtle sting of rejection, you have no way of understanding the pain that such behaviors inflict.

In watching the movie, “Becoming,” a Netflix documentary focused on Michelle Obama’s book tour, it is painful to feel some of the unfair criticism she received.

During the time before the election and her time as first lady, she was criticized for everything from her gestures to her hairstyle, her sleeve length to the words she used.

Both she and President Barack Obama were painted with the same brush as their former pastor, as being anti-American. Although they conducted themselves with grace and charm, their every move received the maximum scrutiny.

While rather slow moving and in need of some sharper editing, it nevertheless presents an accurate portrayal of an accomplished woman being judged unfairly at every turn.

The counselor at Michelle Obama’s high school told her she was not Yale material even though she was an outstanding student. That stung and it has stayed with her until now. Likely, it will continue to plague her.

Near the end of the movie, she reveals how much she was upset by the failure of the black community to turn out to vote in the mid-term elections. She said it felt like a slap in the face.

She takes these things very seriously.

According to a December 2019 Gallup poll, Michelle Obama is the most influential woman in the world for the second year in a row. She was also the most admired woman in a July 2019 YouGov survey.

This is outstanding when you consider her “competition.”

It is gratifying to see an audience composed of black and white people together standing and cheering a black woman.

Michelle Obama’s philosophy of hope and love shines through when she is on screen.

There are still the detractors. Those diehards who think that Barack Obama’s election was the result of some kind of plot to undermine American democracy or those who feel he is a Muslim plant. There are those who feel the couple still hates America.

The movie seems to be intended for supporters like me and likely will have no effect on the naysayers, except perhaps to inflame them.

Thankfully, the majority of Americans see the Obamas for what they are – decent hard-working American patriots.

The movie itself needs focus. I wanted more of the book tour and less of walking through hallways.

I wanted less chitchat and more emphasis on the advice she was giving young people, as well as additional focus on her interaction with the public on the tour. She is at her best when interacting with individuals.

Her advice to “look each person in the eye, don’t look over them or around them” is right on target. She has mastered those skills.

Her book, “Becoming,” is an excellent portrayal of an accomplished woman in her own right discovering her own voice and finding her place in the process.

Unfortunately, for me, the movie falls short of reaching that same high mark.

MPAA Rating: PG for some thematic elements and brief language.

Director: Nadia Hallgren.

Cast: Michelle Obama; Barack Obama; Phoebe Robinson.

The documentary’s website is here.

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Five U.S. Presidents; Five Great Americans – May 6, 2013 – ethicsdaily.com

I wrote this column six years ago and it is still true today. I just spent the 4th. of July with my sister, brother-in-law and their family. It is a great reminder of what a great country we have and who we are as a people. I could not get the picture of the five presidents to reproduce here. I need my son, Michael, Brandy or Lori to help me with that. The message is clear. We live in a great country. We may be divided at times over issues, but we are never divided in our love for our country.

The picture of President Obama standing with the four living former U.S. presidents at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas is a grand statement for us, and the rest of the world, as to whom we are. No one had to die for any one of them to take office. None was deposed by some despot.

Each took office as a result of a vote by a free people. Each has his strengths and each has his weaknesses. Although each of us has our preferences, only time will sift through the remains for an accurate judgment.

Each one separately, and all of them together, tell a great story. Although each of these men is flawed in some dramatic way, I am happy to be represented by any one of them.

Along with whatever baggage each man carries, he is a great American. He has stood the test. He has walked through the fire and emerged a winner.

Your vote may have been different from mine, but that is the point. We do not have to agree to live together in peace. We do not have to think the same or vote the same.

I am happy with the choices I made and would make the same choices again. I am sure that you feel the same way about your choices.

Those men can stand there together because each one knows fully the burdens that each one shouldered.

Each one knows the agony, heartache, sleepless nights and the great joy of serving the American people. Each one understands that one word from any one of them during his turn in office could have plunged the world into instant chaos.

These are good men. They are us. Soon, too soon, each one of them will leave us. As each one goes, we will mourn his passing.

We will remember his accomplishments. We will lament his failures. In many cases, we will regret not heeding some of his advice.

Each has taken his turn on the world stage. The country, our country, will endure.

We are a strong people. We are resilient. We are capable of unbelievable acts that dishonor our national conscience, but we are also capable of unbelievable acts of honor, kindness and love.

For a season, we divide ourselves into blue states and red states, Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, gay and straight, but when some misguided individual or group tries to harm us, we become one people, indivisible.

I am proud of those five men pictured there because I am in the picture and so are you. We are all holding hands. When it matters, we are one.

I am for national health care, gun control and immigration reform, and I understand full well that you may not be. We will decide these issues at the voting booth.

Each of us will have the opportunity to state our case to anyone who chooses to listen. No one is forced to listen, and no one is forced to vote.

We are free to follow our consciences, but no one is forced to follow us. We are free to become involved, and we are free to sit on the sidelines.

I am free to worship as I choose, and I am free not to worship at all.

Sometimes in the heat of debate, we forget how fortunate we are. We are free to debate. That is a hard-won freedom.

Look, again, at these five men. With all of their faults and virtues, they are us.

I, for one, am giving thanks for them individually and collectively. You are free to join me.

 

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Political Talk: Temper Your Words, Open Your Heart – www.ethicsdaily.com

Political Talk: Temper Your Words, Open Your Heart

Mitch Carnell
Friday, October 7, 2016 6:53 am
Section: EthicsDaily.com’s Latest Articles

President Obama struck the right note when speaking about the police shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“We need to temper our words and open our hearts,” he said following the mid-July killing of three officers.

Words are powerful. They have the power to build up or tear down, calm people down or stir them up.

Arthur Caliandro, the late senior pastor at Marble Collegiate Church, once asserted, “You can never know that your words will be received the way you intended because you do not know what that person has gone through.”

Most people are able to hear hot political speech and let it roll off them, but a few internalize those words – and those words take over that person’s thoughts and actions.

Hate speech is dangerous. You do not know the listener’s state of mind.

The rhetoric in the current presidential campaign is already at a fever pitch with, I fear, much worse to come.

In today’s unsettled political climate, we all need to take a step back, take a deep breath and moderate our speech and behavior.

The president has shown exemplary restraint in responding to his critics. He has the right demeanor that is needed in these times. He has pleaded for calm and civil speech.

Some see this behavior as weakness, but, in reality, such restraint demands enormous strength. Self-control and self-restraint are hallmarks of a Christian communicator.

Parents should discuss these matters with their children and explain to them the power of words.

The wounds inflicted with sticks and stones will heal, but those inflicted with words may never heal and will continue to fester.

Harsh, unkind, hateful words spoken by those who are significant in a person’s life may have an impact that will scar that life forever.

There is a gigantic role for churches to play under these circumstances. They can promote small discussion groups and hold seminars. They can teach people how to conduct themselves in threatening situations.

Here is an opportunity for churches to become more relevant to modern life. Unfortunately, too many churches have elected to become part of the problem.

They use their powerful voices to arouse discontent and sow seeds of disharmony.

The Bible is filled with sound advice on how Christians are to respond to hostile or threatening behavior. People of good will can find solutions even in the face of overwhelming odds.

It is hard to listen to one another when so many of us are so far apart in our thinking, but we can do it. We must do it for the sake of our society.

We must continually ask ourselves: Do our words accurately reflect our claim to be Christian?

Christian civility must become more than a slogan. It must become the way we operate on a daily basis. As Christians, we must communicate in such a way as to reflect the teachings of Jesus.

Christian communication doesn’t mean surrendering our beliefs. It does require us to treat the other with the same respect we demand for ourselves no matter how much we disagree with his or her position.

In fact, the more deeply we disagree with another’s position, the more careful we need to be in fashioning our response.

There are times when the best response is to acknowledge that our disagreements are so profound that we simply agree to disagree and end the conversation.

Mitch Carnell is a consultant specializing in effective communication. He is the author of “Our Father: Discovering Family.” He and his wife, Carol, are members of First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina. He blogs at MitchCarnell.comand ChristianCivility.com

Christian communication doesn’t mean surrendering our beliefs. It does require us to treat the other with the same respect we demand for ourselves no matter how much we disagree with his or her position.

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Religion and Politics Are Poor Teammates – Ethicsdaily.com

Mitch Carnell

Posted: Monday, November 5, 2012 5:25 am

Religion and Politics Are Poor Teammates | Mitch Carnell, Billy Graham, Elections, Endorsements

Billy Graham has sacrificed a spiritual leadership position on the altar of partisan politics, Carnell observes. (PhotoBucket)

The tragedy of Billy Graham’s endorsement of Mitt Romney is not Graham’s choice for president of the United States. It would be the same had he endorsed President Obama.

The tragedy is that he made an endorsement at all. His removal of Mormonism from his list of cults and his endorsement are simply the results of human frailties.

Billy Graham, like so many of us, is unable to resist the warmth generated by the perception of power.

We thought that he had learned his lesson from being burned by getting too close to Richard Nixon. Apparently we were wrong.

Many of us have placed Graham on a pedestal and assumed he could do no wrong.

He has all of the fame and adoration that one person could possibly enjoy; however, the lure of political influence is too strong for mere mortals to resist.

Of course, Billy Graham has the same right as any other American citizen to endorse whomever he wishes – except that Graham is not any other citizen.

He occupies the position of spiritual counselor to the world. He is a role model for millions of people.

He has sacrificed a spiritual leadership position on the altar of partisan politics. He has become one more role model tarnished by the allure of political influence.

I have marveled at his ability to resist the temptations that money can bring, and he has not been touched by the sins of the flesh that have engulfed so many other televangelists.

He is a truly gifted communicator who can deliver a message to millions of people. He has neared the finish line of a remarkable career with very few blemishes on his record.

Why would he sacrifice all of this for a fleeting moment of political influence?

Most of us can manage the really big moments in our lives, but it is all those pesky little problems that arise in the meantime that cause us so much heartburn and heartache.

Power is a powerful magnet, and no matter how much of it we have, it is never enough. Politics seems to be Graham’s Achilles heel. He is unable to stay away from its lure.

The problem may lie with us in that we expected too much from another mere mortal. When the election is over and the results are known, Graham will get much of the credit and the far right will be strengthened if Romney wins. Religious leaders will be encouraged to enter the political wars.

If the president wins, Graham will have sacrificed his influence to politics. Either way he will be the loser, and so will we.

I am glad that God did not trust me with the responsibility of judging who on the national stage is more Christian.

Because I believe that there are no levels of Christians, I am automatically disqualified as a judge.

I also believe that there are no levels of sinners. We have all sinned and fallen short. I do know that it is un-Christian to leave people without health care, food or hope. I can judge those things.

Who am I as a layperson to criticize Billy Graham? I am just another flawed human being striving to find enough light to make it through life.

I am reminded of my conversation with the late Dr. John Hamrick, long-term pastor of Charleston’s First Baptist Church.

“Dr. John,” I asked, “does it ever make you anxious about preaching here where so many great pastors of the past have preached?”

“Yes,” he said. “At first it did until I realized that I didn’t have to please Richard Furman. I only had to please God.”

Billy Graham does not have to please Mitch Carnell. He only has to please God.

Mitch Carnell is a consultant specializing in interpersonal and organizational communication. He is the editor of “Christian Civility in an Uncivil World.” He and his wife are active lay members of First Baptist Church of Charleston, S.C. Mitch blogs at MitchCarnell.com.

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