Sunday, May 20, 2012


As you have seen from other posts, I have been bothered by the Obama's use of the word "faceless," which together with the "Julia" campaign have me wondering about how he really relates to people.  And then I got to church today:

Facelessness!  I laughed, but it bugs me.  Leaving aside why this picture was chosen (I have no idea!), what was the artist trying to achieve with faceless disciples?  So we wouldn't try to figure out which figure was which apostle?  So we could see ourselves there? (Yuck, I hope not!) Was it just cheaper than adding faces?

Failing to see faces means you fail to see individuals; you can reduce everyone to a type.  It hit me this morning--Obama's mom was an anthropologist.  Her entire career was based on seeing types, not individuals.  There never were individuals--there didn't have to be in her study.  I have absolutely no doubt this has contributed to his inability to deal with people one-on-one.  He might have written Dreams from My Father, but I think his worldview was unmistakably influenced by his mother.  

When I was trying to decide if this idea works, I thought about my parents and how they've influenced my worldview.  Both my parents are Christian, and I grew up going to church every Sunday, youth group, choir.  And I still am a Christian, a better one I hope, and we are raising our children to believe in Jesus.  My mom grew up fairly poor, on a farm in the South, and as I was growing up she placed a huge emphasis on security.  My dad grew up in more comfortable surroundings, and he went on to the Navy and then a career as an airline pilot.  He figured that you just did what you needed to do, don't question it, check off the boxes, and I'll get left alone.  No need to make waves. I needed to have a college major that would lead to a profession, not just a job, and a profession out of undergraduate--not doctor or lawyer.  Marrying my husband, an entrepreneur, was looked on as incredibly risky!  I might have moved away from that security-seeking mindset in some ways, but I still see it in how we approach our savings and how we raise our children.  Who your parents are matters.

Back to facelessness.  If Obama can't deal with people as individuals, with faces, that explains his love of oratory.  A crowd of 80,000 is just a big crowd, not 80,000 separate faces.  And the people who line up to give you money are just a bunch of (fill in the type here:  Jews, gays, whites, business people, academics...), and once I get the money I can get out of here.  According to Ed Klein's The Amateur, these are both true.  

I am so interested in watching this campaign unfold.  A little nervous, too, truth be told.  We are finally hearing about the man who tried to tell us who he was years ago, in his books.  He's been telling us for years, even the last three years.  Can we listen?  What will we hear?  Maybe the bigger question is if he can stop seeing types, and start seeing people.   Will they have faces?


Mary Prather said...

I wonder why the bulletin had faceless people on it? Do you think it's some kind of subversive support of Obama? (I am just being very difficult and dumb)

You made me think in this post, Cheryl. Thank you!

Cheryl said...

Mary--yes, we have a secret political activist in the congregation. Now to root them out...