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Win a Free Book – The Happy Christian by David Murray

The Happy Christian is…

A unique combination of biblical teaching, scientific research, and personal biography shows those who follow Jesus how to live joyful, purposeful lives.

In The Happy Christian, professor and pastor David Murray blends the best of modern science and psychology with the timeless truths of Scripture to create a solid, credible guide to positivity. The author of the acclaimed Christians Get Depressed Too, Murray exposes modern negativity’s insidious roots and presents ten perspective-changing ways to remain optimistic in a world that keeps trying to drag us down.

The Happy Christian invites readers to shed negativity and become countercultural missionaries by demonstrating the positive power of the gospel in their lives. (HT: Hand & Heart)

If you would like to enter to win a copy (paperback if you are in the contiguous US – digital if you are elsewhere) here’s what you need to do:

  • Comment below regarding why you want to read this book or how you have recently experienced joy in the Lord.
  • Like this blog post.
  • Re-blog this blog.
  • Follow me on twitter – @CWoznicki – and tell me why you want this book.
  • Retweet this blog post.

I will be announcing winners towards the end of this week. Good luck!

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Book Review – Wesley on the Christian Life: A Heart Renewed in Love by Fred Sanders

Trust me I am not one of those reformed guys. I’m young, I’m reformed, but I’m not restless. I love other Christian traditions, I’m not a reformed or nothing kind of guy but at times I have been tempted to have a superior attitude towards Methodism and the other Wesleyan traditions. Let me explain why, I think I have a good reason for it.

Back in 2012 I took a summer class with a visiting systematic theology professor from Asbury (a seminary rooted in the Methodist tradition). As we were making our way through Soteriology and a Wesleyan ordo salutis our Methodist professor explained that Wesley believed that you could lose your salvation. I think that is a very harmful doctrine but I certainly will not break communion with somebody who holds that sort of belief. What this professor said next about Wesley permanently gave me a bad impression of Wesley.  This professor said that Wesley believed that one is saved by faith (so good so far) but that one stays saved by one’s works (oh heck no). In essence Wesley was a 18th century covenantal nomist. Staying saved by one’s good works! In that moment I started turning my nose towards the Methodist/Wesleyan traditions. Thankfully Fred Sanders came along with Wesley on the Christian Life and readjusted my impression of Wesley and his theology.

Summary

The Theologians of the Christian Life series attempts to provide introductions to major teachers/theologians/pastors within the Protestant tradition all the while keeping an eye towards practical living. Wesley on the Christian Life: A Heart Renewed in Love is Fred Sanders contribution to this series. Towards the beginning of the book Sanders lays out two tasks he will attempt to complete in this book: 1) introduce Wesley’s theology and spirituality and 2) recommend a generally Wesleyan  approach to living a balanced Christian life.Wesley on the Christian Life

In this volume Sanders gives the reader a brief spiritual biography, an in depth understanding of Wesley’s “heart religion,” and a look at the role 1 John had on Wesley’s theology (he was a practical theologian who began with John and moved to Paul). Sanders then moves to what Sanders does best, systematic theology. He takes us on a journey into the confusing, strange, and often misinterpreted land of Wesley’s Soteriology. Often accused of being a crypto-catholic or denying imputed righteousness, Sanders shows that Wesley is far from being those two things. Wesley was a preacher of justification by faith alone. Also Wesley loved the law but the law stood upon a foundation of Grace. We are then treated to a brief chapter on the Means of Grace (once again we find that for Wesley Grace comes first, not our human efforts). Then we are taken back into the realm of Soteriology proper; Sanders unpacks Wesley’s doctrine of Christian perfection. Sanders concludes with two “ecumenical chapters” he shows that Wesley was concerned with maintain unity and fellowship with the catholic (not Roman) church and that Wesley is a resource for doing Trinitarian theology across ecumenical lines.

All in all, by taking us on a tour of Wesley’s theology, Sanders shows us that Wesley was a very practical theologian always concerned with guarding fellow Christians from the Scylla and Charybdis of formalism and antinomianism all the while cultivating true religion in the hearts of his fellow Christians

Pros

There are many things that I enjoyed about this book but I will only mention four:

  1. Sanders knows his audience well. This book is published under Crossway, a reformed-evangelical publisher which means that its primary audience will be reformed readers. If you know anything about Crossway you know that they are one of the biggest “gospel-centered” publishers, Sanders is very aware of this and constantly writes with an eye towards this particular audience. Thought the book Sanders makes an effort to relate Wesley’s theology to the Reformed and Calvinian traditions. For instance we find this quote by Wesley pop up around the book many times, “I do not differ from Calvin a hair’s breadth.” We also find a vast number of quotes by Calvinist heroes like Ryle, Spurgeon, and Whitefield giving their stamp of approval on Wesley. We also see that the appreciation runs both ways, Wesley is often portrayed as being a big fan of a lot of Calvinist authors, like Edwards and Goodwin.
  2. The book is filled with wisdom for “gospel centered” readers. I won’t elaborate upon this much but I found it delightful that Wesley offers so much wisdom for people who are gospel centered. Like any other way of thinking “gospel-centeredness” as a theological system often lacks in certain areas, it has it weaknesses. It tends to be nomophobic (it “fears” the Law) but Wesley offers a wise corrective. It tends to be divisive but Wesley makes a case for staying within one’s own communion. It tends to call into question the seriousness of other people’s conversion, Wesley suffered from this fault early on even to the point of calling into question whether he was saved before his Aldersgate experience, but Wesley eventually grew out of this way of thinking.
  3. Sanders presents Wesley as a great resource for doing evangelical theology. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Wesley’s Trinitarian theology. One particular line really caught my eye: “Wesley’s Trinitarianism was also uniquely experiential” (245). There are two things I know (as generalizations) about evangelicals: 1) They have anemic theologies of the Trinity and 2) They are into having experiences. According to Sanders (he doesn’t really unpack the implications) Wesley’s Trinitarian theology is a resource the evangelical church really needs.
  4. A (sort of) clear explanation of Wesley’s “Christian Perfection.” This doctrine is utterly confusing (maybe Wesley shouldn’t have used the word “perfection”) and I must admit that I still don’t get it. Nevertheless Sanders presents a clear (as clear as I think you can get) explanation of this doctrine. After reading Sanders explanation I still don’t buy it, but at the very least I can now see Wesley’s motivation behind it.

Cons

I will only mention one thing that I found lacking in this book, part of the problem might be due to the intended audience though. Above I mentioned that, Sanders is very aware of his audience and constantly writes with an eye towards this particular reformed group. I am concerned that this particular slant might have caused Sanders to sugarcoat some things in Wesley that reformed people might have a hard time swallowing. In other words I think that Sanders might have made Wesley look more reformed than he really was. As one reviewer on The Gospel Coalition said, some of the similarities that Sanders draws between reformed theology and Wesley’s theology might not actually be similarities but “wishful thinking” on Sanders part. I don’t think Sanders is hoping that Wesley is more reformed than some of his interpreters have made him look, but I do think he is trying to make a case to his reformed/gospel-centered readers that Wesley isn’t all that bad and that we need to learn from him. I agree with the fact that we need to learn from Wesley but there would be things to learn from him even if he radically disagreed with reformed theology. In other words I don’t need a Wesley who is a crypto-Calvinist.

Conclusion

I love the heart behind the series and I love the heart behind this book (there I go, I guess I am a believer in Wesley’s “heart religion”). There is much to learn from Wesley whether or not you agree with his theology, Sanders makes a strong case for that. So should you buy this book and read it? Yes absolutely. There is something in here for everybody whether you are a lay person, a pastor, a theological student, “Young Restless and Reformed” or “Old  Relaxed and Wesleyan.”

(Note: I received this book from Crossway in exchange for an unbiased review.)

I Have a New Name! And So Do You!

I have been married for a few days now, so I sort of consider myself an expert on marriage, therefore its time to start blogging about my wisdom.

Haha yeah right. I’m not so presumptuous, but I have been thinking about marriage and our relationship with Christ quite a bit. Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Found in Him has been helping me to do that

One of the metaphors that scripture uses to describe the church’s relationship to Christ is that the church is Christ’s bride. It’s a very powerful metaphor. Its packed and contains many many layers of meaning.  Fitzpatrick takes us deeper into that metaphor in a passage that I enjoyed a lot:

Until recent times, everyone bore the name of his or her family of origin. The tradition of brides taking their husband’s last name is still carried on in America today, although it is fading away…. Because we are Jesus’ bride he has given us his name.  (181)

Fitzpatrick goes on to say what this means for us:

Through marriage Jesus Christ bestows upon us his righteous reputation, but his new name we’ve been given is more than a superficial reputation pasted over a dirty face, or a diamond ring forced onto a filthy finger. Its an actual change in identity. We have his reputation. We have a reputation that is as if we had his character, and it is that character that is being worked in us. (183)

When someone gets married they take on the other person’s family, history, reputation and name. It includes the good and the bad. When we become the bride of Christ we take on all those same things, except this time its all good. That’s a wonderful truth to dwell upon.

Book Review – Prelude to Philosophy by Mark Foreman

My story is all too common. I was going on a mission trip to Uganda and I had sent support letters to my old high school teachers. In my letter I explained what God had been doing in my life and how he had led me to study philosophy at UCLA. That is when all the warnings started to come in. I vividly remember one letter I got back, it simply said “Beware of losing your faith. Colossians 2:8” As I said my experience iPrelude to Philosophys all too common. Lots of Christians are averse or afraid of philosophy. Mark Foreman’s Prelude to Philosophy shows us why Christians shouldn’t be afraid, but rather why they should purse a philosophical mindset.

Overview

The book is broken up into two major sections. First comes a sort of prolegomena of philosophy. Foreman deals with questions like: What is philosophy? Why is philosophy important? Why is philosophy important for Christians? What does philosophy study? The second part deals with the methods of philosophy – logic, reasoning, fallacies, how to approach arguments – you might consider this a toolbox for actually doing philosophy. He concludes with a short epilogue on the virtues necessary for being a Christian philosopher.

Pros

  • Its very relevant – Foreman opens up the book by saying that “there is no doubt about it: philosophy has a major public relations problem.” He is absolutely correct. Many Christians are wary of philosophy without good reasons. The fact is that Christian hesitation about philosophy comes out of a fundamentalist tradition of anti-intellectualism. This tradition is insulated from other world views (even other Christian traditions), is marked by Biblicism, and at times advocates for blind faith. This has caused many Christians who were raised in this tradition, or have an affinity towards this tradition, to fear doing philosophy. Foreman shows us why those fears are completely unfounded. This book addresses a very relevant need among Christians today.
  • He shows the huge potential that philosophy has for the Christian faith – If theology is the queen of the sciences then philosophy is the handmaiden to theology. That is what the Church has believed for the past 1700 years, that is until the enlightenment. Neverthless, the truth still holds. Philosophy is very relevant for Christianity. Philosophy informs Christian hermeneutics, theology, apologetics, polemics, and evangelism (pg. 89-93). Not only that, but philosophy helps cultivate a philosophical mindset among Christians. Mark suggests that there is a biblical mandate to develop a philosophical mindset, he draws this mandate out of Colossians 2:8.  This mandate involves three elements: 1) appreciation of the role reasoning plays in evaluating philosophies, 2)construction of a Christian system of philosophy, and 3) refutation of contrary philosophies (pg. 80). All this to say, we Christians need philosophy

Cons

  • Part one feels disjointed from part two – this isn’t really an issue I have with the content, rather its an issue I have with the structure. To me it almost feels like two separate books. The first part is about the nature of philosophy, the second is about logic and reason. Foreman could have easily split these two sections into two smaller books. This isn’t something that makes me like the book any less, but my level of interest changed as I approached the sections on logic and reason.
  • It needs more on the vocation of a philosopher – If you want and introduction on what it means to be a Christian academic philosopher don’t look here, look at Plantinga’s “Advice to Christian Philosophers.” I know that Foreman wasn’t writing to students struggling with a desire to become professional philosophers, he is writing for people who are struggling with the concept of philosophy in general, but part of easing the hesitations of novices of philosophy could have included a short section on how professional Christian philosophers are actually involved in doing ministry. Sidebar: somebody really needs to write a book about what it means to be a Christian professional philosopher. I know that there are a lot of articles and papers out there on that particular vocation, but we need a full fledged book on the subject.

Conclusion

My favorite part of the book was the prologue – the virtues of a Christian philosopher. Its in this section that we see Mark Foreman’s heart really shine through. Christian philosophers ought to love truth, be diligent, be intellectually honest, treat others with fairness and respect, have intellectual fortitude, possess epistemic humility, and be teachable. Reading through this book its apparent to me that Foreman embodies these virtues. If there are any doubts that philosophy is for Christians just read this book, I am not talking about the content of it, I am talking about the heart behind it. Foreman has a pastoral tone, guiding, teaching, shepherding philosophical novices through the difficult terrain of philosophy.

Foreman is a gentle shepherd, leading philosophical novices through the difficult terrain of philosophy.

If you are a college student about to take some philosophy classes pick up this book. If you are a Christian who has some doubts about philosophy pick up this book. If you are a college professor teaching an introduction to philosophy class, pick up then assign this book. If you are a college pastor who has students who are about to begin majoring in philosophy read this book then give them a copy. If you have been doing philosophy for a long time, pick up this book. I have spent a lot of time doing philosophy in a secular setting and philosophical theology in a Christian setting, and I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book even though it is just an “introduction.”

Note: I received this book free of charge from Intervarsity Press in exchange for a review. I was under no compulsion to give it a positive or negative review.

Upcoming Conference on the Philosophy and Theology of Hope

For those of you who are interested in philosophy and/or theology I would like to let you know that there is an awesome local philosophical-theology conference coming up in the L.A. area.

Claremont Philosophy Conference Hope 2014

Here is the description:

Hope: Re-examinations of an Elusive Phenomenon

Hope is an elusive phenomenon. For some it is Pandora’s most mischievous evil, for others it is a divine gift and one of the highest human virtues. It is difficult to pin down but its traces seem to be present everywhere in human life and practice. Many are of two minds about whether this is a good thing or bad thing. Christianity as a comprehensive practice of hope cannot be imagined without it: Christians are not believers of dogmas but practitioners of hope. In other religious traditions the topic of hope is virtually absent or even critically rejected and opposed. Some see hope as the most humane expression of a deep-seated human refusal to put up with evil and suffering in this world, others object to it as an escapist reluctance and lack of courage to face up to the realities of the world as it is.

Hope is an elusive phenomenon. For some it is Pandora’s most mischievous evil, for others it is a divine gift and one of the highest human virtues. It is difficult to pin down but its traces seem to be present everywhere in human life and practice. Many are of two minds about whether this is a good thing or bad thing. Christianity as a comprehensive practice of hope cannot be imagined without it: Christians are not believers of dogmas but practitioners of hope. In other religious traditions the topic of hope is virtually absent or even critically rejected and opposed. Some see hope as the most humane expression of a deep-seated human refusal to put up with evil and suffering in this world, others object to it as an escapist reluctance and lack of courage to face up to the realities of the world as it is.

Half a century ago hope was at the center of attention in philosophy and theology. Ernst Bloch’s The Principle of Hope (1938-1947/1986), Jürgen Moltmann’s Theology of Hope (1964/1967), or Josef Pieper’s FaithHope–Love (1986/1997) are landmarks of the 20th century debate on hope. However, in recent years philosophers and theologians have been curiously silent on the subject of hope and the discussion has shifted to positive psychology and psychotherapy, utopian studies and cultural anthropology, politics and economy. This has opened up interesting new vistas. It is time to revisit the subject of hope, and to put hope back on the philosophical and theological agenda.

This is what this conference seeks to do, and there are many open questions. What is the phenomenon called hope? Is it the same topic that is studied in the various approaches to hope in psychology and politics, economy and theology? How does hope differ from belief and faith, trust and desire, expectation and confidence, optimism and utopianism? Is hope an emotional state or a feeling or a virtue? Does the absence of hope equal the presence of anxiety, fear or despair, or is there a human attitude or state that overcomes the opposition between hope and despair without being either of them? What is hope’s relation to promise and time, knowledge and action, self and community? Where are the limits of hope and what are its distortions? How is it to be distinguished form self-deception and error, wishful thinking and the irrational refusal to accept the world as it is? Does hope hinder religious believers from facing the tasks and challenges of the present life by orienting them towards a life to come? Is it a form of escapism to be shunned or a power of change to be appreciated? These and related questions we will explore at the 35th Philosophy of Religion Conference at Claremont, California, on February 14-15, 2014.

Speakers will include: Keynote speaker – Jürgen Moltmann (Tübingen), William Abraham (SMU), Nancy Bedford (Garrett-Evangelical Seminary), John Cottingham (Heythrop College, University of London), M. Jamie Ferreira (Virginia), Arne Grøn (Copenhagen), Serene Jones (Union Theological Seminary), Alan Mittleman (Jewish Theological Seminary of America), Hirokazu Miyazaki (Cornell), Ola Sigurdson (Gothenburg), Claudia Welz (Copenhagen)

I am not Charismatic man, I swear!

“I am not Charismatic man, I swear! I’m not into this scene, I’m just here with a friend. Yeah…”

Those are the words that came out of my friend’s mouth when I ran into him at a Pentecostal church meeting that my friends and I were visiting a few weeks ago. It almost felt like I was a parent who had just caught my kid with a small bag of weed in his sock drawer. “Its not mine Dad, I swear! I’m just holding it for a friend!” Shenanigans!

This moment, although funny at the time, revealed something. Among certain circles, being Pentecostal is frowned down upon. Yes, we might accept others being Pentecostal, especially if that person lives somewhere in the global south. But Pentecostalism isn’t for us “well educated people who know better than to get carried away by emotionalism.”

In his 2008 article titled “Thinking in Tongues” for “First Things” magazine, James K.A. Smith (a reformed/charismatic theologian) said:

Over the past decade, Pentecostalism has become something of an academic darling for historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and scholars of religious studies. Researchers ensconced in the secularized environs of the university have produced a flood of books and studies about the fantastic worlds of global Pentecostalism. And yet, while sometimes sympathetic and irenic, the academic interest in Pentecostalism has had the curious backhanded effect of disenchantment. The sociological fascination proves a cover for condescending incredulity, with Pentecostalism reduced to a sort of global snake-handling.

Smith goes on to say:

Although Pentecostalism sometimes gets a space on the table as a subject of study, it rarely gets a seat at the theological table as a contributor to the conversation, even among serious theologians.

Smith is absolutely correct. This was on full display in my interaction with my friend from Fuller. My friend knew me from Oliver Crisp’s “Doctrine of the Atonement Class,” as I was one of two M.A. students in this Ph.D seminar. So this guy’s perception of me, which he later shared with my friends from my church, was that I am the smartest M.A. student he knows. He said, and I’m not exaggerating, “this guy is the smartest master’s student I know, he is brilliant! He is absolutely brilliant. ”(I’m not going to lie, it was weird to hear him bragging about my intelligence in front of my other friends.) Anyway, this guy perceived me as being super smart, and hence he thought I would look down upon him for him engaging in some “charismatic” worship. He also knew that I was pretty Reformed. And Reformed people aren’t charismatic. So the cards were supposedly stacked against him. He felt as though I was supposed to judge him. After all, I am a “smart” “reformed” theologian… that is intimidating right? But why are those things incompatible with being Charismatic? Apparently this guy thought they were, and apparently he though that I, being a “smart reformed theologian” , would look down on him for being at a charismatic church gathering.

Why are the words, smart and charismatic or reformed and charismatic oxymorons? I don’t know. But hopefully one day these words will be seen as complimentary rather than opposite.

(If, by the way, you can’t tell, I am in fact Charismatic and Reformed.)

Welcome To Shelbyville – A “Political” Review

Welcome to Shelbyville is a documentary recounting the story of the town of Shelbyville, Tennessee during the 2008 presidential election; it recounts the reactions to his election by various different groups: Anglo-Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, and Somali Refugees. In addition to this, it also recounts the various groups’ reactions to a new group of Somali refugees. Through this film, we are presented with a microcosm of America; America is rapidly changing, it must figure out how it will react to the religious and cultural changes that are on the horizon. In this brief paper I will highlight some of the cultural differences between the groups and examine how their responses to each other might lead to the various groups becoming more culturally aware.

Welcome to Shelbyville

All four groups represent very different cultural values which are manifested in their views on politics, economics, and religion. In examining the Anglo-Americans values on politics we see that they desire to keep things the way they are. They feel threatened by change. Thus they display an aversion to risk. At one point some Anglo members of the local Rotary club say that “Shelbyville is not Mayberry anymore,” meaning that it is no longer the ideal picture of America that they are used to. This attitude towards political change is illustrated during the election of Barack Obama. At one point, a Presbyterian Pastor says that “the election is historic but troubling…the nation we know and love is changing.” The African American and Hispanic views of politics however is quite different. They see the change as hopeful. Having seen discrimination against minorities they see this new government as possibly bringing about change. In this election alone we see that the Anglos of Shelbyville have a strong uncertainty avoidance. Cultural differences are also displayed in the various groups views about economics. The Hispanics and Somalis are willing to work difficult, menial jobs in order to provide for their families. In fact, the Hispanic person Miguel Gonzalez is very proud to work for General Motors. He sees the value of hard work. The Anglos in the film however are best characterized by what the ESL teacher says about them, she says that some people wouldn’t work there (Tyson or General Motors) even if they paid them. This is an interesting observation, because at one point we see an Anglo couple complaining about how the immigrants have taken their jobs, however jobs are available, its just that the jobs that are available aren’t the ones the Anglos want. Cultural differences are also displayed in the various groups’ religious practices. Although we don’t exactly see their spirituality, we are given a view into how their political views impact their church services. Both the Anglo Presbyterians and the African Americans bring in their political views into their sermons. The Hispanics do not even mention their faith. The Somalis seem to be deeply impacted by their faith. We are told that they pray during designated prayer times, even if they are not at their mosque. We also see that their religious leader acts as a leader in the community, thus their religious life intersects with their daily lives, however they do not refer to politics in their meetings. Finally, the Anglo Baptists are also shaped by their religious views. They too do not allow their politics to intersect with their religious practices, but they do allow it to affect their social life. This is displayed in their decision to have a church put on community outreach for the Somalis.

In addition to the differences between these groups that are seen in their politics, economics, and religion we also see differences in their reaction to the Somali refugees. The Anglo Americans have the most hostile reaction to them. For instance, the former Mayor says that the Somali’s “have diseases,” the “Muslims are here to kill us,” the “Somalis don’t like us.” On one radio show we hear an Anglo complain about being forced to comply with the Somali culture. Another Anglo says that “they are more aggressive,” he complains that they try to bargain and haggle at the store, he sees them as being rough and impolite. These attitudes are only one type of reaction typical of the Anglos. The Presbyterian pastor Stephen Caine, displays a more mild manner aversion to them. He points out that the Anglos are now the minority, and their ways are being threatened but he also realizes that if the churches are going to survive then need to learn to adapt. The African Americans take a more neutral stance towards the Somalis. They find them strange, they have strange food and wear strange clothing. One man at a barbershop complains that he can’t communicate with them. He doesn’t see them as a problem, however he finds that situations get awkward when the Somalis are around. The Hispanics display the most positive attitude towards the Somalis. The ESL teacher that is helping them become culturally oriented is Hispanic. The same ESL teacher also helps them address the problems they face with the news reporter, Brian Mosley. In addition to this it is also the Hispanic community that initiates the “welcoming initiative.” Being immigrants themselves they understand the problems the Somalis face. The greatest difference between the groups lies in their reaction to the Somalis. The anglos react negatively, whereas the Hispanics and African Americans take a more positive stance towards them. The African Americans are in favor of reaching out to them, but they are not willing to take an active role in doing so. The Hispanics lead the charge in this area.

Welcome to Shelbyville Somali

The differences between the reactions towards the Somali’s are rooted in struggles for power. The Anglos are losing power. They are becoming a minority, they are “losing jobs,” and they are being forced to change the ways of life that they were accustomed to living. The African Americans are also being forced to change, but since they do not possess as much power as the Anglo’s they do not feel as threatened thus they are not as averse to the changes that are required of them. Finally, the Hispanics, which possess the least amount of power in Shelbyville, are the ones who have the least conflict with the Somalis. This is likely because they are in a similar position as them. Both are relatively new to Shelbyville and the Southern States. Both work “menial” jobs and both struggle with the language. Thus their similarities bring them together.

Another reason for cultural conflict lies in what the groups believe that America should be like. The Anglos believe that it should stay the way it is, the other groups are open to change and are even hopeful that it will happen. This is seen in their responses to Barack Obama’s election. The Presbyterian church finds the election historic but troubling. The African American church sees hope in Obama’s election. They believe it will bring financial, physical, and spiritual well being to the country. The Hispanics believe it displays what they love most about this country, namely that anyone can make it if they work hard enough. The Somalis have little to no reaction to the election.

Different conceptions of what America should be like are also seen in how the groups respond to the cultural differences in the Somalis. The some want them to leave, others want them to conform to their ways, and some are willing to assimilate them as long as they leave behind their cultural values and adopt American values. The African Americans play a small role in welcoming the Somalis helping the become acculturated. They are willing to help them feel welcome, but they do not take an initiating role in welcoming them. This fact is seen in the scene involving the meal between the various groups. The African American ladies are friendly towards the Somali’s, they even try to understand what Somalia is like, however they display cultural insensitivity when it comes to their style of dress and the topic of terrorism. It is the Hispanics that initiate the most beneficial cross-cultural initiatives. By teaching the ESL class, organizing the meeting with the Newspaper, and initiating the meal between the Somalis, African Americans, and Hispanics all groups begin to move towards being culturally aware people. These initiatives are helpful because they help break down language barriers and help remove misconceptions that exist between the groups. Both of these tasks, the breaking down of language barriers and the correction of misconceptions help the groups identify with each other. As the groups begin to identify with one another they learn that they have nothing to fear when it comes to the changes that are happening around them.