Is Barack Obama a secret…Hindu?

No. Absolutely, unequivocally he is not. He is a Christian. For months now there have been slanderous and bigoted emails circulating around the internet suggesting that he is really a “secret Muslim.” This further appeals to the most base fears of a small portion of Americans who are just scared that the potential leader of the free world might end up being a man of color with a “funny name.” Snopes.com in particular does a fantastic job at discrediting all the false Obama rumors. However, my very observant friend Arun in L.A. sent me the following email with a link to a picture in Time Magazine. Says Arun:

I spend an extraordinarily unhealthy amount of time surveying political blogs for the most minute of minutia on the election. Mostly I marvel at the absolute inanity of most punditry (see: Stephanopolous, George) and the fact I’m stupid enough to waste time reading it. Occasionally, I’m surprised by something particularly astute or though-provoking (usually the blogs at the Atlantic). However, this picture caught me completely off-guard:

Caption from Time: Amongst the things that Barack Obama carries for good luck are a bracelet belonging to a soldier deployed in Iraq, a gambler’s lucky chit, a tiny monkey god and a tiny Madonna and child.

Yes SM readers, that is correct. The Democratic nominee for President carries Hanuman with him for good luck (although to beat McCain, who carries a penny, he might need to upgrade to this Hanuman, or else use this stick that he got earlier this week).

I’ve heard many of my friends who are minorities say that they can relate to Obama because he has a multi-ethnic background like them. In addition, he has lived abroad (Indonesia) and spent time in both Pakistan and India as I previously blogged, so it isn’t all that surprising that he is aware of Hanuman. Looking into Obama’s open hands above I am reminded about a great article by David Brooks that was in the New York Times a few weeks ago. In it he coined a new term “neural Buddhism.” He writes:

First, the self is not a fixed entity but a dynamic process of relationships. Second, underneath the patina of different religions, people around the world have common moral intuitions. Third, people are equipped to experience the sacred, to have moments of elevated experience when they transcend boundaries and overflow with love. Fourth, God can best be conceived as the nature one experiences at those moments, the unknowable total of all there is. [Link]

98 thoughts on “Is Barack Obama a secret…Hindu?

  1. obama is a convert to the united church of christ, arguably the most liberal christian denomination in the united states in regards to theology. this is the guy who says he believed in evolution more than he believes in angels (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

  2. I bet if he does a controlled study he will find that Hanuman is the source of his mojo, the rest of the charms are just along for the ride

  3. united church of christ, arguably the most liberal christian denomination in the united states

    Razib, the UU seems more liberal in practice (judging from their services). And the Universal Life Church is even more so. I guess most people don’t really consider these to be Christian. The ULC, for sure, receives plenty of scorn. They don’t believe in Christ or even in God.

  4. The Democratic nominee for President carries Hanuman with him for good luck (although to beat McCain, who carries a penny

    The God speaks to the current President and the future President is walking the same path. No wonder we have a mess in Iraq, an economy and a dollar that keeps sinking, a social security crisis, energy crisis, stupid farm bills and subsidies, gas tax holidays, endless discussions on guns and week long world creation theories. It all makes sense now!

    Not that they are any better east of here.

  5. UU has members that self identify as Christian but UU itself does not purport to be Christian (even though it is an outgrowth of the Unitarian Christian denomination). There are agnostic,atheist,Wiccan,Buddhist UU members. They find value in the social ethics of the Bible and books from other faiths. ULC is more of a gimmick, something that sends ordinations in the mail,they don’t claim to be Christian either

  6. I guess most people don’t really consider these to be Christian.

    the unitarian-univeralist fellowship was rejected from membership in the national council of churches. IOW, they’re not a christian denomination, though some unitarian-universalists are self-identified christians. nevertheless, since as unitarians they reject the nicene creed they might still have been rejected because they are outside of the orthodox apostolic christian tradition as defined by the majority of christians (the latter day saints church has the same problem, though their problem is that they take the trinity “too far”).

    The fact that Obama cannot be categorized easily in many aspects is probably causing problems with many white people for the following reason

    he’s clearly recognizable i think as a genre of post-national wine drinking cheese eaters :-) (i know whereof i speak) the things obama says, the presuppositions he holds, etc., are pretty good signallers for the fact that he clusters with liberal seculars. he obviously has an african american identity as well, but he seems to “code switch” from what i can tell.

  7. the unitarian-univeralist fellowship was rejected from membership in the national council of churches. . . they’re not a christian denomination, though some unitarian-universalists are self-identified christians. nevertheless, since as unitarians they reject the nicene creed they might still have been rejected because they are outside of the orthodox apostolic christian tradition as defined by the majority of christians (the latter day saints church has the same problem, though their problem is that they take the trinity “too far”

    Razib, Thanks for the info., but what is its political salience? Is anyone voting based on the stature of the nicene creed? I mean this as a very friendly question, but why are you so into this stuff, being an atheist? Do these distinctions really matter, politically or economically? Maybe I’m just missing a lot of what’s driving politics, but this isn’t the sort of stuff most people who I read are on about. . . .

  8. Do these distinctions really matter, politically or economically?

    well, as a matter of fact, unitarian politicians have been attacked and denigrated for not being christian, so people complain (taft, adams, etc). it’s come up as an issue in kent conrad’s (senator, north dakota) races. the fact that around 1/3 of unitarian-universalists are atheists is probably a major issue here, it’s a way to have a religious affiliation where you don’t have to pretend to believe in god but people probably wouldn’t ask you (bob packwood, former senator from oregon, was a unitarian, and i am told by people who went to his church that he was not a believer in god).

    as for why i know, you never know when facts are going to be handy.

  9. Is anyone voting based on the stature of the nicene creed?

    btw, i’m a little surprised you say this after the romney campaign. many evangelicals were getting emails explicitly about the fact that mormons do reject the nicene creed! (almost all christian churches reject mormon baptism because they consider them a heretical non-christian religion because of such theological heterodoxies)

  10. Razib, Thanks for the info.–I have to confess that while I’d read about the anti-Mormonism wrt Romney, I never went into enough detail to see or know anything about the nicene creed. LOL, I will have to do a bit of reading up on this–had no idea about this Kent Conrad issue, either–so, thanks again.

  11. There are a good number of self-identified Conservative Unitarian-Universalists. But they are a minority in almost every congregation and would at best fit somewhere a smidgen right-of-centre. Actually quite a few UUAs are in search of a new ideology – even if they are always in search. I have been for about two years now working with a group of UUAs and have found a great deal of resonance from within the group for my ideas such as discarding the left-right spectrum, non-ideological approach to experience. UUAs and then UCCs are the most interesting groups I have met so far. Although at first they seemed to hold the wrong notion that religion is a cultural universal thanks to the overwhelming influence of the ideas of the Protestant Reformation, I have through my discussions with the childrens’ grouop and with the grown-ups carved space for my ideas.

  12. “Conservative Unitarian-Universalists.”

    packwood was a republican. nancy johnson, who was us rep. from conneticut until 2006, was a republican. william cohen of maine was a republican and a UU (his father was jewish by religion, but many jews converted to UUism). there are a non-trivial number of socially liberal/moderate but fiscally moderate/conservative UUs; religious liberalism does not entail political liberalism, though it does correlate with it (conversely, many black americans are religiously conservative but happily vote for the liberal political party). all that said, there were several UU republicans, small business people, who have now switched to being moderate democrats (these were people active in the local republican party who were kind alienated by the sectarian prayers at organizational meetings for the party).

  13. The Unitarians have a long and honourable history in the very centre of mainstream — well, perhaps the elite — of American discourse. The established Church of Massachusetts was originally Congregationalist (today’s United Church of Christ), being the direct descendent of the original Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and for that matter the original sponsor of Harvard College. But eventually its clergy drifted ever upwards or perhaps, depending on one’s viewpoint, outwards, and away its flock, and away from Trinitarianism and into Unitarianism. This was the basis for the Church’s disestablishment in the 1820s — not the Separation of Powers doctrine, which in those days applied only to the federal government. (Like the right to bear arms, the separation of church and state has considerably evolved from the intention of the Framers of the Constitution.) Before the rise of the Evangelical Right to political influence — possibly as recently as the 1960s; possibly indeed as recently as the 1967 Six Day War — it was certainly no handicap for a federal politician to be a Unitarian. Or indeed not to profess a “personal relationship with Jesus.” Abraham Lincoln himself, indeed, professed only the blandest adherence to Christian doctrine and it wasn’t in the slightest an issue.

    But in the USA — perhaps alone among western democracies — there appears latterly for better or worse been an emphatic departure from the view that leaders’ religious faith or lack thereof was anyone’s concern. Roosevelt’s bland Anglicanism; Truman’s untroublesome Southern Baptist affiliation (he drank bourbon copiously and was an avid poker player); Eisenhower’s formal accession to Presbyterianism (he’d had a Jehovah’s Witness upbringing, eschewed it utterly, and only acceded to formal membership in the Presbyterian Church on the eve of his inauguration); Kennedy’s extremely easy relationship with Catholicism (that he had to argue down Norman Vincent Peale, Billy Graham and others during the 1960 election as to the nature of his obedience to the Pope is laughable); Johnson’s pan-religiosity (he ostentatiously rejected his mother’s Southern Baptist affiliation in favour of the Disciples of Christ but he married an Anglican and throughout his presidency frequently ventured to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to pray); Nixon’s ostentious flouting of the tenets of his nominal Quakerism; Carter’s ostentatiously liberal interpretation of his Southern Baptist creed, despite his image as the most holy roller of presidents; Reagan’s never-darken-the-door-of-a-church brand of Presbyterianism; Bush I’s bland liberal Anglicanism; Clinton’s — well, we don’t need to go there; Bush II’s weird sort of adherence that appears to involve adhering to a private program of Bible reading while never darkening the door of a church and certainly not bringing up his children within it…

    There is a very tricky attitude in the Bible Belt that latter day politicians must contend with. Let us see how it plays out with Mr Obama as he rationalises his association with his loudmouthed former minister.

    (Does it occur to anyone other than me that his, Ms Clinton’s, Mr Clinton’s and Mr McCain’s ostentatious religiosity is more than a little false?)

  14. 14 · razib said

    there are a non-trivial number of socially liberal/moderate but fiscally moderate/conservative UUs; religious liberalism does not entail political liberalism, though it does correlate with it

    In the UUA group I work with, I am about the youngest – and I am middle aged with a college going daughter. Of the Cons.UUA in the group, there are 5 Scandinavian looking types who have been Freedom Riders, and done the Selma Montgomery march. And one of them has even been to S. Africa in its days of oppression – although he won’t talk about it. Not surprising at all when you consider Charlton Heston joined the Selma marches, and a very well known Republican Presidential candidate in hte years past was an active member of the NAACP. Among the many influences that have guided current conservatism is Puritanism – the tussle between economic liberals and populists within the conservative circles is a replay of the much older tussles within the European churches from around 1200 to 1600. To build on SN Balagangadhara follow the thread into the maze and you will find every contemporary issue in the Western societies traces back to the dynamics within Christendom.

    Re Obama. Glad he’s got Hanuman aka Bajrang Bali. But I have a tad more affection for Ganesha – my favourite.

  15. Obama talks about being fascinated by Hanuman in Indonesia and his Indonesian step dad narrating stories about Hanuman in his book Dreams from my father.

    It was really disappointing to hear Obama’s undivided Jerusalem comment at AIPAC. Thats not change we can believe in. No we cant.

  16. Obama talks about being fascinated by Hanuman in Indonesia and his Indonesian step dad narrating stories about Hanuman in his book Dreams from my father. It was really disappointing to hear Obama’s undivided Jerusalem comment at AIPAC. Thats not change we can believe in. No we cant.

    I am more than fine with it, as long as I as a taxpayer don’t have to pay for it and the Palestinians can get to their holy sites.I am more concerned with impediments to the economic well being of the Palestinians, halting expansion/dismantling settlements. This is what happens when one faith decides to co-locate (or replace) the holy sites of the aboriginal religion with their own

  17. It is surprising to me to see Obama carrying around these good-luck charms. I thought most church-going protestants, even liberal UCC types, had an aversion to assigning (non-cross) objects supernatural meaning.

    It was really disappointing to hear Obama’s undivided Jerusalem comment at AIPAC. Thats not change we can believe in. No we cant.

    I agree. I know he’s trying to get in the good graces of AIPAC-types but did he really have to go that far ? The guy is quite confounding. Maybe he’ll pull back from that comment just like he’s pulled back a bit from the “talk with my enemies” stuff.

  18. the unitarian-univeralist fellowship was rejected from membership in the national council of churches. IOW, they’re not a christian denomination, though some unitarian-universalists are self-identified christians. nevertheless, since as unitarians they reject the nicene creed they might still have been rejected because they are outside of the orthodox apostolic christian tradition as defined by the majority of christians (the latter day saints church has the same problem, though their problem is that they take the trinity “too far”).

    Unitarians by definition reject the Holy Trinity of Christianity and the divinity of Jesus Christ. That makes them non-christians to all mainstream christians: catholics, protestant or orthodox. Both catholics and protestants burned Unitarians at the stake for their rejection of the Nicene Creed.

    Here’s something to think about:

    Calvin burned the scientist Severitus at the stake as a heretic because he was a Unitarian.

    Calvinism was the protestant christian sect to which the Puritan settlers belonged.

    The Enlightened men who founded the American Republic rejected Calvinism (and mainstream christianity in general): they were Deists or Unitarians and were considered infidels by the christians of their time such as Patrick Henry. The Founding Fathers of America rejected both Monarchy and Theocracy and insisted on separation of Church and State.

    Yet today, we have allowed the christian lobby to hijack America with the false claim that it was founded on “christian principles”; that the men who founded it were all believing christians; that only christians are qualified to run for the highest office!

  19. It was really disappointing to hear Obama’s undivided Jerusalem comment at AIPAC. Thats not change we can believe in. No we cant.

    The idea that Jerusalem is a holy city of Islam is theologically dubious. Mohammad may have started out making his followers prostrate towards Jerusalem but he changed his mind and turned his back on Jerusalem (literally!) and made muslims prostrate towards Mecca instead, after his falling out with the jews of Medina.

    Actually it must have been Allah who changed his mind, since Mohammad is supposed to be merely following his orders……

  20. I love how Obama has completely elevated the national discourse on religion, race and culture in ways never before seen. I can’t wait till 2009:)

  21. I thought most church-going protestants, even liberal UCC types, had an aversion to assigning (non-cross) objects supernatural meaning.

    this would make sense doctrinally, but really on a personal level people always have their own interpretations. e.g., substantial numbers of christians avow a belief in reincarnation.

  22. It was really disappointing to hear Obama’s undivided Jerusalem comment at AIPAC. Thats not change we can believe in. No we cant.

    well, if you privilege the middle eastern conflicts over others. how many pygmies were being eaten in the congo last year? :-)

    (as a message board where the majority do not subscribe to the abrahamic religions i’m assuming i’m not the only one fatigued by the overwhelming emphasis that the abrahamists place on this conflict in a corner of eurasia when there’s a whole lot of misery and injustice to go around in the world which doesn’t get the light of day because it isn’t associated with a semitic sky-god).

  23. on a personal level people always have their own interpretations. e.g., substantial numbers of christians avow a belief in reincarnation.

    Such “christians” would have been burned as witches by the Church in pre-Enlightenment times. The christian scheme of Salvation through blood sacrifice cannot be reconciled with belief in reincarnation.

    how many pygmies were being eaten in the congo last year? :-)

    This being a desi board why not show some concern for starving bangladeshis (and other desis) instead?

  24. 25 · razib said

    fatigued by the overwhelming emphasis that the abrahamists place on this conflict in a corner of eurasia

    What do we do? Differences of opinion within the Abrahamic fold continue to drag the rest of the world into large scale conflicts. And now oil, sacred places, and apolcalyptic visions converge again in the yoke of Eurasia. Much as the Daoic, Shinto, Dharmic, and other pagan traditions want to keep out, they all need oil. We need history, lots of scientific history, only then will we realise where our attentions should lie – Africa – where all of us are from.

  25. i have no problem with pragmatically admitting that since 50% of the world’s population is preoccupied emotionally with palestine that we need to pay attention, especially because of oil. i just get tired when my muslim friends talk about the plight of the palestinians and expect me to care especially much. i’m not a muslim, what do i care about palestinians that i don’t are about timorese or congolese? similarly, i don’t care much about the fate of israel either; if i was god i’d just give all israeli citizens (including arabs, i don’t care) american citizenship and let the palestinians have that patch of sand.

    we all bring out own baggage in terms of what we emphasize as human beings. e.g., one assumes that brownz will focus more on relations with india than on latin america, and that colombian americans will keep an eye on latin american relations. but i get irritated when many who are preoccupied with the middle eastern conflict use universal language as if other people should give a damn who controls the “holy city.” since america is 85% abrahamic it’s a good bet that people will care if you don’t know anything else about them, but at least on these boards i would have hoped that people acknowledge that it only matters pragmatically because of the emotional investment people with particular religious presuppositions bring to the table, not because the palestinians are suffering genocide on the scale of what routinely happens in africa, or that the israeli state’s survival really matters all that much in the grand scheme of things either. for that matter, how much did arabs give a damn when 2,000 gujarati muslims were killed in 2002 in a pogrom? well, let’s be honest, “half-hindu” brown muslims are a lot less significant in the arab mind than arab muslims (though south asian muslims are always eager to pay attention to their arab “brothers”).

  26. Calvin burned the scientist Severitus at the stake as a heretic because he was a Unitarian.

    Ooops, that should be Servetus.

    Besides Michael Servetus other famous scientists who rejected the Holy Trinity of mainstream christianity include Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

  27. Besides Michael Servetus other famous scientists who rejected the Holy Trinity of mainstream christianity include Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

    priestly was a unitarian. in any case, darwin died an agnostic, so rejection of trinity was the least of his issues :-)

  28. we do give the Mideast far more attention than they warrant so with that:…….

    I think it is awesome that Obama carries a gold macaca pendant. But for the sake of the general election he should keep it out of sight

  29. 28 · razib said

    “half-hindu” brown muslims are a lot less significant in the arab mind than arab muslims (though south asian muslims are always eager to pay attention to their arab “brothers”).

    I have known muezzins and naazims in S.India who have lived and worked in Medina, who speak Urdu at home and are fluent in Arabbic, who would much rather live in India than in S. Arabia. It’s not the language. Food is part of the problem, as the higher caste (we can say that) Muslims in South India’s leather towns do not eat beef – won’t touch the stuff even if starving. The other part as my acquantances told me, “The Rasul will accept us, but not the ones who claim to be from his clan.”

  30. 25 · razib said

    (as a message board where the majority do not subscribe to the abrahamic religions i’m assuming i’m not the only one fatigued by the overwhelming emphasis that the abrahamists place on this conflict in a corner of eurasia when there’s a whole lot of misery and injustice to go around in the world which doesn’t get the light of day because it isn’t associated with a semitic sky-god).

    paging alan dershowitz…

  31. paging alan dershowitz…

    i’m not anti-israel; i’m a-israel. i don’t have any ‘solidarity’ with the palestinian people that i don’t have for any out of the way occupied third world population…which means i don’t have any solidarity since i’m not much into international angst. my cynicism was most certainly solidified by reading the economist in the year 2000 and noting a several page spread which mentioned shocking casualities on the order of a few jews and a few dozen palestinians, but later on i noticed a small out of the way box highlighting the situation in the democratic republic of congo where hundreds of thousands had been killed. jews and muslims and to a lesser extent christians care about israelis and arabs killing each, that’s human nature. but i don’t have to go along with the cultural preferences of other people in terms of how they apportion the worth of life of any given people.

  32. Obama talks about being fascinated by Hanuman in Indonesia and his Indonesian step dad narrating stories about Hanuman in his book Dreams from my father. It was really disappointing to hear Obama’s undivided Jerusalem comment at AIPAC. Thats not change we can believe in. No we cant.

    Lest we forget, his mother was an anthropologist and he grew up with the Gita and the Upanishads on the bookshelf right along with the Koran and Bible, so why not a Hanuman in his pocket? It’s not a Ganesha murti.

    Pretty much everybody has to appease AIPAC to get anywhere in this country.

  33. Sorry, that David Brooks article is the most inane thing I’ve read recently.

    Here is a response from a neuroscientist.

    Moreover, if you’ve actually studied in Buddhism, it doesn’t make any sense from that side, either. Buddhist metaphysics is just that — metaphysical.

  34. I have known muezzins and naazims in S.India who have lived and worked in Medina, who speak Urdu at home and are fluent in Arabbic, who would much rather live in India than in S. Arabia

    was in trivandrum with a arab friend a few months ago, a lot of people we spoke to didn’t know much english or hindi but were able to speak in broken arabic with my friend. one guy in particular was hindu and had never been outside the country..

  35. my cynicism was most certainly solidified by reading the economist in the year 2000 and noting a several page spread which mentioned shocking casualities on the order of a few jews and a few dozen palestinians, but later on i noticed a small out of the way box highlighting the situation in the democratic republic of congo where hundreds of thousands had been killed. jews and muslims and to a lesser extent christians care about israelis and arabs killing each, that’s human nature. but i don’t have to go along with the cultural preferences of other people in terms of how they apportion the worth of life of any given people.

    I found that surprising too. Any attack in Israel would become a “breaking news” in CNN/BBC etc. whereas similar attacks in say Philippines/Chechenya/Kashmir leave alone conflicts in Africa, would not get that coverage. I guess people have strong feelings if they have some emotional attachment to the region from where their stories / fairytales originated from. :-)

  36. found that surprising too. Any attack in Israel would become a “breaking news” in CNN/BBC etc. whereas similar attacks in say Philippines/Chechenya/Kashmir leave alone conflicts in Africa, would not get that coverage.

    That’s because human life in the “less developed” (read “non white”) world has zero value for the MSM. Actually the BBC should not be lumped into the MSM – they do cover all such incidents. The MSM probably lumps us browns in the same category as cattle. Does their audience want them to cover every barnyard incident?

  37. Tony Blair said he carried a Koran everywhere and was spotted wearing a kalava. So I take these things with a pinch of salt (which I then throw over my left shoulder).

    I like Obama for the reasons you mentioned Abhi, his multi-racial, multi-cultural background. But I’m a little disappointed he’s clearly so superstitious, with this collection of random rabbit feet. However, I have idolised several sportspeople through my life who were superstitious to the point of comedy. I guess the higher the stakes are, the more people tend to lean on little crutches like this.

    Razib I’ve never agreed with you so completely as with what you’ve written here. I have frequently bemoaned to friends this apparent duty I’m supposed to feel to place more importance on one particular conflict than all others.

    Also, I like the word ‘chit’.

  38. That’s because human life in the “less developed” (read “non white”) world has zero value for the MSM. Actually the BBC should not be lumped into the MSM – they do cover all such incidents. The MSM probably lumps us browns in the same category as cattle. Does their audience want them to cover every barnyard incident?

    Well, Chechens are whites too. Infact the name “caucasian race” derives from that region. I don’t think the extra importance given to “holy land” is wholly derived from the race factor. It has more to do with the power of the religious stories / fairytales that one grew up with.

  39. 34 · razib said

    i’m not anti-israel; i’m a-israel.

    understood. this is essentially the philosophical justification for Finklestein’s scholarship–that one massacre should not subsume all others with it’s own remembrance. arguing about it is a drug, though, which is why my home library features a scowling Khalidi rubbing shoulders with Bernard Lewis and Amos Oz giving Amira Hass the evil eye…

  40. 41 · DesiDawg said

    That’s because human life in the “less developed” (read “non white”) world has zero value for the MSM. Actually the BBC should not be lumped into the MSM – they do cover all such incidents. The MSM probably lumps us browns in the same category as cattle. Does their audience want them to cover every barnyard incident?

    why isn’t TOI included in the MSM?

  41. 42 · Bong Breaker said

    I like Obama for the reasons you mentioned Abhi, his multi-racial, multi-cultural background. But I’m a little disappointed he’s clearly so superstitious, with this collection of random rabbit feet. However, I have idolised several sportspeople through my life who were superstitious to the point of comedy. I guess the higher the stakes are, the more people tend to lean on little crutches like this.

    as long as it doesn’t involve consulting the divine Lakshmi on economic policy or Pandit Charlatan-ji on the future of crude oil pricing, he can rub that little golden monkey all he likes.

  42. I hear what you’re saying Razib. But if Obama spoke at the A-Congo-PAC and talked of the fundamental rights of non-Pygmies to lord it over Pygmies, I might be similarly concerned. But, like Nayagan says, arguing about this can be a drug and so I shall say no more.

  43. What a beautiful photograph. Just content aside, it’s gorgeously composed and shot, with the shadows of the floor, the glimmering colors of the objects, and the posture of his hands. Props to Brooks Craft of Corbis for such a well crafted photo.

    Nobody has remarked that he has a warrior’s bracelet, one of the five Ks? I suppose he doesn’t wear it. ;-)

    I know plenty of hypperrational non-religious scientists who would claim they aren’t at all superstitious but do things which, at first glance, look superstitious. They might need to wear a particular ink-stained pair of pants to give a talk, or have a special meal before a presentation, or play a few hands of cards before embarking on a particularly long lab bench protocol. Those of us who are religious often pray for comfort and strength, and when we get that comfort and strength, it helps us to be grateful for it. Others use a charm to focus their mind, and conjure up comfort and strength within themselves. And there’s no reason that a rational religious man like Obama can’t do both while still being a good Christian.

  44. 46 · Nayagan said

    he can rub that little golden monkey all he likes.

    It is kind of un-christian to be rubbing the monkey, innit? Probably a PR disaster for him to bring this up on the campaign trail.

    Razib-Rob-Jyotsana: very nice comments on this post.