Barack Obama and the new Civil Religion


Barack Obama and the New ACROV
(American Civil Religion Official Version)
by Leonard Sweet
For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
Barack Obama
Inauguration Address
20 January 20091
One of the greatest mistakes historians have made in assessing the presidency of John F. Kennedy is their failure to appreciate the shadow role of Robert Kennedy. JFK’s decision-making strategy was to gather a gabble of diverse voices, listen to their debates and disagreements, and then leave it to Robert to help him hear the hum of higher wisdom that would sound above the ruckus.2
Perhaps the greatest evidence of Robert Kennedy’s prescience was a prophesy he uttered in 1960 right after his brother became the first Irish Catholic President of the United States: “Thirty years from now a black American could be sitting in this office.”3
Senator Kennedy was only off by twenty years. But nearly fifty years after that prophecy, a new chapter has begin in USAmerican history that is even more significant a transition for the future than John F. Kennedy’s victory as a Catholic.
Barack Obama is the first Google President. Forty-three Presidents before him were Gutenberg Presidents, the products of a print culture and the high priests of a civil religion that was print based and all that went with that technology. The 44th President is the product of a very different world, a digital, electronic culture and his transitional and transformational presidency is already shaping the contours of a post-Gutenberg, Google culture civil religion. Barack Obama is pioneering a new, if you will, ACROV: American Civil Religion Official Version.4
It is easier to get a lion to lie down with a lamb than get an academic to agree to a definition, but in the spirit of those who have ventured into lions’ dens in the past, let me offer this definition of civil religion in general and ACROV in particular. The phrase “civil religion” comes from Jean Jacques Rousseau, who noticed how nation states with a strong sense of identity, mission and patriotism had an almost religious glue, a “civil religion” that bound the people together into nationhood. In this “civil religion,” which would be shaped by the reigning religious and cultural currents of the country, the head leader would assume the function of a “high priest.”
In the case of the US, the “official version” of American Civil Religion was shaped primarily by the Jeffersonian Creed of liberty, equality, democracy, civil rights, non-discrimination, the rule of law, and the tenets of Protestant faith.5 It is my conviction that ACROV is being transitioned and transformed from a Gutenberg to a Google paradigm with the presidency of Barack Obama.
The Gutenberg world is most often known as “modernity,”6 which was inaugurated by the invention of the printing press, accelerated with the scientific revolution which began in the 16th century, was in full swing with the 18th Century Enlightenment, and crested with the Industrial Revolution which dominated the 19th and first half of the 20th century.
The Google world, sometimes known as “postmodernity,”7 was inaugurated by the invention of the cell phone (1973), which today is no longer primarily a “phone” among its 3.3 billion users (that’s half the population of planet Earth), but a communications and learning center, with almost instant access to the accumulated wisdom of the ages. Compare the social environment of a child born in 1950, or even 1960, or even 1970, with the social environment of a child born today. We’re not even on the same planet. Ten years ago half of humanity had never made a phone call and only 20 percent of humanity had regular access to communications. For the first time in history, the majority of humanity is connected.
“Religion is the substance [soul] of culture;
and culture is the form of religion.”
--Paul Tillich8
In this short essay, I shall explore three prominent features of the new ACROV as manifested on the “high feast day” of our new “high priest:” the Presidential inauguration, and especially the tone and texture of the sacred speech known as the “inaugural address.”
In “We Will Remake America” President Barack Obama returns over and over again to the founding symbols and stories of the nation, making them fresh so that new Google generations can live out of their generative, dynamic power. He also admits that at this point in history when the world is coming undone, “God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny,” so in assessing the full measure of this new ACROV we are like birds in dense fog who need to walk rather than fly. But this much we can say with some degree of certainty.
First, this is a global ACROV.
Obama is our first post-racial, post-colonial President. With a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas, and raised in Indonesia, Obama was that rarity of an African American that grew up, not with a southern identity but with a cosmopolitan, multicultural identity.
John Zogby calls the Google generation the “First Globals.”
Globality, which comes after the globalization of a Gutenberg world,9 is a) post-racial and cosmopolitan; b) socially and environmentally responsible; c) transparent; d) post-colonial. Zogby portrays the “First Globals” as “the most outward-looking and accepting generation in American history.”10
a) post-racial and cosmopolitan: In the urban ACROV, hybrid and multiple affiliations are increasingly the norm. As of 2008, the majority of the world’s population live in cities for the first time in 20,000 years. USAmerica’s largest cities are fast becoming “minority majorities,” as minority populations have become majorities. 48% of new USAmericans are Hispanic. The average USAmerican is now brown-eyed, brown-skinned, and black-haired, and they aren’t “melting” but over-coating. The US has always prided itself in having the greatest diversities of anywhere on the planet, diversities which were mixed and melted to create something “as American as apple pie.”
But even “apple pie” isn’t “American”–-not in origin or in recipe. To say that something is “as American as apple pie” is to say that the item came to this country from somewhere else and became distinctly ours because we developed the killer-app version of it, even though “apple pie” itself antedated USAmerica’s founding by hundreds of years.11See also California Kay, “Apple Pie: A Bite Out of Cultural History, The Worldly: Web Culture Web Magazine, March/April 2005, <>, (accessed 3 March 2009). 
USAmerican diversity has been one of “e pluribus unum,” out of many one. The diversity of ACROV globality is more “e unum pluribus,” out of one many. Kwame Anthony Appiah names this differently—-he calls it a “rooted cosmopolitanism.”12 But we mean the same thing. In the post-colonial, post-racial ACROV, “one can pledge allegiance to one’s country and still conceive of oneself in terms of global identities or universal values.”13 In a cosmopolitan ACROV, there is a renewed respect for the freedom of others along with a heightened sense of the responsibilities of the strong over the rights of the weak. The more “too big to fail” some get, the more no one is “too small to save.”
You are lost if you forget that the fruits
of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau14
Nowhere is this “e unum pluribus” ACROV more apparent than in this one fact: On St. Patrick’s Day, even the Irish now want to claim as one of their own Martin Luther King, Jr. Like Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King, Jr. apparently had an Irish great-grandfather. To hear the “e unum pluribus,” turn on the radio. Whereas a Gutenberg world generated musical styles of organized beauty like sonatas and symphonies, a Google world is generating a gallimaufry of musical styles and wildly diverse soundscapes . . . like rock and roll, jazz-fusion, hip-hop, punk, pop, metal, electronica, alternative. Part of courtship, as it was for Barack Hussein Obama and Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, is agreement on a playlist around some favorite artists (in their case, Stevie Wonder).
If you watched the Obama inauguration, you saw cameras panning cheering crowds around the world. From the Bahamas to Botswana, people cheered the inauguration of this 44th President as if he were their own. Obama’s inaugural address didn’t disappoint them: It was ostensibly and dramatically a speech for the whole world, as Obama spent a significant amount of time addressing the peoples of the world.15 Right after the address, I was listening to The Ed Schultz Show (“Where America Comes To Talk”) and a caller from overseas wanted to speak his mind: “The only thing that could happen bigger than Barack’s [sic] election to the presidency,” he intoned, “is the Second Coming of Jesus.”
This may be the greatest achievement of Barack Obama in the new ACROV: he is giving people a heart that is able to beat across the world. He is the world’s first global President.
b) socially and environmentally responsible: The paradox of America’s founding is this: no nation was conceived with such high hopes, even millennial dreams about creating the kingdom of God on earth, the perfect society; and yet, no nation was conceived with more pillaging and plundering, raping of people and place, looting of gold, silver and other natural resources. In a global world, militarism is irrelevant to the threat to our nation coming from shrinking icecaps, rising waters, burning deserts, exploding populations, spreading famine, etc. In a global world where, for the first time in human history, people 65 and older will outnumber children under 5 (by 2030), a graying world requires greening.
Obama is approaching the environmental health movement as the civil rights movement of our times. Our fragile planet is headed toward environmental meltdown if we don’t begin to connect ecology and eschatology, not as people with “dominion” over the Earth but as “trustees” of God’s estate. In Obama’s theology, God isn’t at work destroying the earth; God is at work restoring and redeeming all of creation. The religious witness is about uniting heaven and earth, not separating them.
Whether or not the new global ACROV can accommodate the political structures that would be required to solve 21st century global problems such as pollution, environmental degradation, rise of non-state terror groups, spread of diseases like HIV-AIDS, etc. remains yet to be seen. But an eco-friendly ACROV sees the greening of the planet as the fundamental moral issue of our time, and returns nature to the heart of culture and to the moral mainstream of faith. Pollution and waste may become the primary sins of the new ACROV.16
c) transparent: Politics is performance, but in the new ACROV a performance art that specializes in transparency, authenticity, and participation. In fact, politics under Obama may be better defined as a participation art than a performance art.
At the Googleplex, Google’s corporate headquarters, there is this saying about transparency: “Ultimately everybody will find out everything.” This is true both physically---as high-resolution imagery is removing all secrecy from everyone17---and morally--as throne rooms and smoke-filled board-rooms can no longer hide their smoking guns. Obama’s “transparency” (one of his favorite words) is manifest in everything from a budget that does not tuck away or camouflage its most contentious expenditures,18 to a new presidential style that is causal, loose, cool, humorous, off-the-cuff, colloquial, and honest: “I screwed up.”19
In a world of absolute transparency, villainy is not being able to see the good and bad on both sides. But the greatest villainy is not to choose one side or the other, to sit on the fence with both eyes to the ground. 
Nothing could be worse for America, and eventually the world, than if American policy were universally viewed as arrogantly imperial in a postimperial age, mired in a colonial relapse in a postcolonial time, selfishly indifferent in the face of unprecedented global interdependence, and culturally self-righteous in a religious diverse world. The crisis of American super-power would then become terminal.
--Zbigniew Brezezinski20
d) post-colonial: The American Empire is coming to an end. In the old ACROV, USAmerican foreign policy was self-interested, expansionist and imperialistic, dedicated to the opening of markets and minds for the expansion of our economy and ideals.
The Bush doctrine of “pre-emptive war” and “full spectrum dominance” pushed the imperial presidency to its farthest reaches.
In the new ACROV, there is an openness to the worldwide dimensions of various problems and to a new international order in which Western values in general and nationalist values in particular may not be the norm. Global problems require global solutions, and the problems of world justice, freedom of peoples, environmental degradation are
Just before he died in 2005, political scientist and historian George Kennan started gaining favor again after he lost his influence inside the Beltway in the mid-1950s. Why? Kennan started preaching that USAmerica needed to attend to “self-perfection” and “spiritual distinction” instead of exporting itself to the rest of the world. Kennan critiqued the US tendency to see itself as the pinnacle of enlightenment and as a “beacon of truth” to the benighted-rest of the world.21
This does not mean that the new ACROV is any less interested in making the US stronger, or its people more prosperous, or in evangelizing its ideals of democracy and freedom. But it does mean that there is a new sense of mutuality and reciprocity in our relationships with other nations and cultures.
America is essentially a dream, a dream as yet unfulfilled. It is a dream of a land where [people] of all races, of all nationalities and of all creeds can live together as brothers [and sisters].
--Martin Luther King, Jr.22

Second, this is now a digital ACROV.
The Associated Press was the quickest to name Obama our first “wired” President. This does not mean, however, that he was the first to see the potential of the Web. John McCain raised 5.6 million via the Web and secured over 130,000 e-mail addresses of supporters. So too did George Bush, Ron Paul, Al Gore, and Senator Bill Bradley in their bids for the presidency. Antonin Scalia, one of the most influential judges in USAmerican history, has twice suggested that he would turn to a fictional television character named Jack Bauer (“24") to resolve legal questions about torture, which reflects the unprecedented influence of media on public policy.23
But Obama was the first to see the Web with Google Goggles. Broadcast media (radio, tv, newspaper) is one way communication. Social media (blogs, micro-blogs like twitter, Facebook) is two-way communication. The only forms of broadcast media that are doing well are those that have reinvented themselves for a Google world where excellence is not the quality of the performance but the quality of the participation (e.g. reality tv, talk radio, local neighborhood rags, etc.)24
Obama developed a thirteen million-name email list, not primarily to raise money from them, but to build a relationship with every one on that list. In fact, Obama’s stated reluctance to give up his beloved Blackberry is because he wants to enable his supporters to feel a personal connection with him, and to connect with people outside the Beltway Bubble.25 Obama understands that if he is to be granted boundless credit by the bank of Public Opinion, he must encourage participation at all levels of decision-making.
Just as print was the primary delivery system in a Gutenberg world, the Internet is now the primary delivery system. In a “wiki culture,” every advance has a public collaborative workspace that needs care and feeding. In an attempt to be the first “YouTube President,” Obama encouraged the public to watch campaign videos on YouTube (they watched 15 million hours of them).26 Obama promised to bring blogs, vlogs, microblogs, wikis, and other social networking tools into the executive branch, and even promised to appoint a digital czar for Government 2.0 and his digital presidency. One of the first things Obama did as president was to release a Web video address.
In Obama’s inaugural promise to “transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age,”27 it remains to be seen whether he understands what it means to move USAmerica’s 4,000 accredited institutions of higher education (1/3 of the entire world’s capacity) beyond Gutenberg models of lecture-drill-test learning and beyond web-based distance-learning programs of a decade ago to virtual worlds platforms like Second Life. Virtual Worlds are not going away, any more than the Internet is going away. Global Googleys are being raised on Webkinz, Home (Sony), BarbieGirls (Mattel), and Club Penguin (Disney). Add the many additional efforts that Disney is putting forward in this field, along with other younger-market companies like MTV, and it is crystal-clear that virtual worlds are here to stay. If the number of virtual worlds is not an indication, certainly the billions of dollars already invested in the metaverse should be. In fact, your avatar may be to the metaverse what your social security number is to your real-life universe. 
The term “metaverse” was first coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash to described 3D virtual environments in which everything from business to religion to entertainment could be engaged in by any user, anywhere in the world, with access to the Internet.28 Since over half the planet now has cell-phones or SIM-cards and 85% of cell phones have Internet access, this means that soon virtually everyone will live in both the universe and the metaverse simultaneously. In 2007 episodes of “Law and Order” and “CSI” introduced one form of the metaverse (Second Life with 15 million residents) to the over 18 age public.29
Once again, in this, like in so much else of the digital revolution, the US is behind the rest of the world (especially China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and other Asian tigers). Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Brazil, Italy, Canada, Spain, and the Netherlands account for over 44 percent of the world’s users of Second Life; the US only 37%. Hundreds of educational institutions are already involved in Active Worlds and Second Life through synchronous and asynchronous interactive learning spaces. But the major impact of social media is its breaking down the distinction between classroom learning and life learning.
Ironically, this makes a Google world more like a medieval or premodern world than a Gutenberg one. Walter Ong and Marshall McLuhan, the two great Catholic prophets of Google culture, predicted the onset of a “secondary orality,”30 the resurgence of a vibrant, more Catholic oral culture that prevailed before the onset of individualistic Protestant print culture. “The computer . . .promises by technology a Pentecostal condition of universal understanding and unity,” predicted McLuhan.31
Part of the new ACROV will be an understanding of global culture as a certain kind of narrative rather than objects, institutions, and principles. In the new ACROV, humane, uniting stories will define us even more than our genes or government. And paradoxically, the more visual our culture becomes with digital technology, the more the visual will be distrusted and accused. During one CBS evening news broadcast from Times Square, a billboard advertising CBS news was in the background. But the billboard wasn’t really there. The question of digital technology’s effects on the credibility of “news” and “truth,” and the authenticity of visual culture itself, is only beginning.32
The challenge of a digital ACROV is that more and more information can lead to less and less knowledge, diminishing wisdom, and loss of the cohesiveness that civil religion provides a people. Stanford Professor Robert Proctor has coined the word “agnotology” to describe the study of the well-curve33 phenomenon of “culturally constructed ignorance.”34 The more the science is in, the more people don’t believe in climate change, string theory, or Obama’s Christian identity (2 days before the election 25% of the people in one Texas poll believed Obama was really a Muslim). If we argue about what ACROV means, and what makes it “official,” we’re having a debate. If we argue about what ACROV is, or whether civil religion exists, it’s agnotological Armageddon. When something becomes more real than reality, reality melts into the mists of delusion.35 A dream is different from a fantasy. The danger of a digital ACROV is that the American Dream can become more and more a country of the mind.
Third, this is a post-Christian civil religion.
Americans are the falsely religious citizens
of a falsely secular nation.
--Philippe Roger
characterizing French views of the US36
In a Christendom culture, Christianity flows through the bloodstream of a people; it pulses in their hearts. But USAmerica is finally catching up with Europe in its post-Protestant,37 post-Christian, increasingly anti-Christian posture. Even southern culture, once a big sticky glob of competing Christian cultures, is being de-Christianized, with only a thin veneer left coating the culture like the slimy surfaces coating collard greens and okra. In the words of Callum Brown: “It took several centuries . . . to convert Britain to Christianity, but it has taken less than forty years for the country to forsake it.”38 The spiritual topography of ACROV will increasingly use non-Christian, and perhaps even non-religious symbols to convey its shared values and promote unity.
Of course, ACROV has been moving in this post-Christian direction for decades. The daughter of Leonard Bernstein has recently revealed a story about his commission from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to write his “Mass” for the 1971 inauguration of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.). Then President Nixon declined to attend the Kennedy Center inauguration, upon recommendation of the FBI. It seems the FBI found a “secret message” disguised in Latin, hidden in the Mass for the purpose of embarrassing the president.
So what was the “secret message” the FBI found and warned Nixon about? The secret message was the phrase “Dona nobis pacem,” which means “Give us peace,” a line in the standard liturgical text of the Catholic Mass.39 The “Mass” was written by a Jew performed in a center named for a Catholic and boycotted by a Quaker.
The religious autobiography of Barack Obama is a case study of this post-Christian ACROV. His father, stepfather, brother and grandfather were Muslims, and his name, "Barack," means "blessed" in Arabic (“Baruch” means “blessed” in Hebrew). His mother was a disillusioned Methodist who was deeply spiritual, but most of all a skeptic about organized religion.40 As a child, Obama attended a Catholic school and then a Muslim school. Later, he was drawn to the writings of Malcolm X, and especially the Malcolm X philosophy of “by any means necessary.” With this pluralist background, Obama has great potential to appeal to the universal homo religiosus that lies behind all religious belief and honors the diversity of religious experience, as ACROV shifts from a Western religion to a global expression of common faith.  
It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
Thomas Jefferson, 178241
Even though African Christianity is the shape of things to come for the future of Christianity, if Obama had been more of a black preacher and not the motivational “yes-we-can” speaker that specialized in the power of “yes”42 and the lure of the far horizon, he may not have been elected, so strong is this post-Christendom shift in a Google world.
The question of a post-Christian ACROV is what will replace its Christian ethics and community morality? Christianity has lost pride in itself or what it does. The collapse of Christian manners, habits and traditional Christian virtues, along with its understanding of human nature, means that the livid morality of tabloid newspapers, reality-tv and celebrity culture, which is based on freedom of choices, pleasures and mediagenics, are the prime candidates for replacement. In fact, celebrity culture teaches people to “value” themselves and to “value” others for reasons disconnected from any virtues. The language of “values,” by the way, is an import from the world of economics.
Obama has made politeness, manners, courtesies and cool, once the small change of civility, the large bills of civilization. Rather than “courtesy” and “pleasantness” an add-on, or optional value, Obama has made them the new/old norm.
In the old civil religion, to say “I am an American” was to say willy nilly “I am a Christian.” Just as the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley liked to claim that “we are all Greeks,” in some sense the old civil religion made us able to say, “We are all Christians.” That old civil religion, thanks to its association with concepts like democracy, liberty, republicanism, and the opportunity to pursue dreams, gave the very word “America” a positive charge.
Because of superpower arrogance, corporate greed, corrupt politics, trigger-happy warmongering, thrusting foreign policy, ecological irresponsibility, and crass consumerism, that very same civil religion gave the name America less happy associations. In fact, just after 9-11, I was asked to speak to some groups in Pretoria and Johannesburg, South Africa. One afternoon, before I gave an address to a South African seminary audience, one of the professors stood up from his lofty perch in the back row of the science hall, announced he was taking a moment of personal privilege, and spoke these words: “I hate Americans. I am here because I was told I had to be here by the Dean. But I don’t know what any American could say that could ever be of interest to me or to any of us in South Africa.” Before he sat down, he turned around so the crowd could see both the front and the back of his Osama bin Laden t-shirt.
The question of the new civil religion is whether it will enable people of a Google culture to say:
     I am a USAmerican.
     I am a “Christian/Muslim/Jew/Hindu/non-believer.”43
     I am a citizen of the world.

1. Barack Obama, “We Will Remake America,” Inauguration Address, 20 January 2009, Vital Speeches of the Day, LXXV (February 2009): 52.
2. A summary of Lawrence Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars: Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).
3. As cited by George Bornstein, “A New Tyranny?” TLS: Times Literary Supplement, 16 January 2009, 13.
4. For an excellent initial pass at this subject, see the Pew Forum article by Daniel Burke, “Obama Refashions America’s Old-Fashioned (Civil) Religion,” Conor Cruise O’Brien in his The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution, 1785-1800 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 318, is the author of this acronym ACROV.
5.    Samuel P. Huntington, Who Are We: The Challenge to America’s National Identity (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004).
6. Some define the phrase “early modern” as extending from the Renaissance to the close of the 18th century, taking in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
7. For more on this, see Heath White, Postmodernism 101: The First Course For Curious Christians (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006), and my collection of essays, The Church of the Perfect Storm (Nashville: Abingdon, 2008), especially the first chapter, “Outstorming Christianity’s Perfect Storm,” 1-36.
8. Paul Tillich, “Aspects of a Religious Analysis of Culture, (1956),” reprinted in The Theology of Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959), 42. (Originally published in World Christian Education, 2nd quarter, 1956.)
9. “The world’s economies were almost as globalized 100 years ago as they are now. Arguably, it was only during the past decade that globalisation got back to where it was at its previous peak, on the eve of the first world war.” See “Better than the Alternatives,” The Economist, 16 May 2002, 26.
10. John Zogby, The Way We’ll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream (New York: Random House, 2008), x.
11. Lee Edwards Benning, Cook's Tales: Origins of Famous Foods and Recipes (Old Saybrook, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 1992).
12. In the final chapter, Kwame Anthony Appiah argues for a “rooted cosmopolitanism” in The Ethics of Identity (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 213-272. See also his Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (New York: W. W. Norton, 2006).
13. Jonathan Freedman, “‘The Ethics of Identity,’: A Rooted Cosmopolitan,” The New York Times Book Review, 12 June 2005), 16. <,> (accessed 1 March 2009).
14. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, trans. Donald A. Cress (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1992), 44.
15. Barack Obama, “We Will Remake America,” Vital Speeches of the Day, February 2009, 50-52. In paragraph 11, Obama begins addressing the peoples of the world with “To the Muslim world . . .” and then chooses specific categories of people like “To the people of poor nations . . .” [Note: the phrase “to the” occurs 8 times in the speech!]
16. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew declared pollution to be a sin in “Remarks by His All Holiness Ecumencial Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW during the Luncheon Given in His Honor by the Officers of Scenic Hudson Environmental Organizations (November 13, 2000),” <>. (Accessed 4 March 2009)
17. In Britain, for example, there are 4.2 million CCTV cameras: one for every 15 people, making it a global third behind China and Malaysia in terms of surveillance. Since the cameras were installed in earnest six years ago, the reported crimes in England have risen and the clean up rate has fallen. In 2004 Melbourne dismantled its CCTV network, citing its ineffectiveness in preventing crime.
18. A few years ago the press discovered plans for a new “Office of Strategic Influence”–-which when translated means, at best I could figure it, lying to outsiders and disinformation.
19. Obama’s 04 February 2009 admission after the Tom Daschle appointment fiasco.
20. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower (New York: Basic Books, 2007), 215-16.
21. Pankaj Mishra, “Rise of the Rest,” London Review of Books, 6 November 2008), 13. <>, (Accessed 1 March 2008).
22. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The American Dream,” (1961), in A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. James Melvin Washington (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986), 208.
23. “Scalia and Torture,” in columnist Andrew Sullivan’s “The Daily Dish of No Party or Clique,” The Atlantic, 19 June 2007, <>, (accessed 1 March 2009). Another example of digital technology impacting the legal professions is its increasing integration in divorce settlements. Judges are now granting “virtual visitations” with a specified number of online communications via computer per week.
24. The three evening news programs lost 40 percent of their audience between 1981 and 2000. For the first time in any Pew survey, more people say they rely mostly on the internet for news (40%) than cite newspapers (35%). With this we have passed another milestone in the informational revolution. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, “Internet Overtakes Newspapers as News Outlet, <>, (accessed 1 March 2009).
25. Writing on his blog for the Atlantic magazine, Marc Ambinder reports that the National Security Agency has approved a $3,350 smartphone — inevitably dubbed the "BarackBerry" — for Obama’s use. The exclusive Sectera Edge, made by General Dynamics, is reportedly capable of encrypting top secret voice conversations and handling classified documents. See “Obama to Get Spy-Proof Smartphone,” <>, (Accessed 1 March 2009).
26. Evan Ratliff, “Online America,” Wired, February 2009, 78.
27. Barack Obama, “We Will Remake America,” Vital Speeches of the Day 75 (February 2009): 51.
28. Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash (New York: Bantam Books, 1992), 24.
30. Walter Ong, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (New York: Routledge, 1988), 3.
31. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (New York: McGraw Hill, 1964), 80.
32. “Virtual Advertising,” The Economist, 15 January 2000, 68.
33. For the shift from a Gutenberg bell-curve culture to a Google “well-curve” culture (the phrase is that of Daniel Pink’s), see my The Gospel According to Starbucks (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook, 2007).
34. Robert Proctor, “Agnotology: A Missing Term to Describe the Study of the Cultural Productivity of Ignorance,” in Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance, ed. Robert Proctor and Londa I. Schiebinger (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008), 1-36.
35. Clive Thompson, “How More Info Leads to Less Knowledge,” Wired 17:2 (February 2009), <>, (accessed 2 March 2003. See also Farhad Manjoo, True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2008). 
36. Philippe Roger, The American Enemy: The History of French Anti-Americanism, trans. Sharon Bowman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 414.
37. The proportion of adult USAmericans calling themselves Protestants, a steady 63% for decades, fell suddenly to 52% from 1993 to 2002. In 2004, the US for the first time no longer had a Protestant majority. National Opinion Research Center (NORC), University of Chicago. As reported in David Van Biema, “Roll Over, Martin Luther,” Time, 16 August 2004, 53. See also “July 20, 2004--America’s Protestant Majority is Fading NORC Research Shows,” on the NORC website, <>, (accessed 2 March 2009).
38. Callum G. Brown, The Death of Christian Britain (London: Routledge, 2001), 1.
39. Jamie Bernstein, “Life with Father,” Town & Country, August 2008, 111.
40. John Kantor, “A Candidate, His Minister, and the Search for Faith,” The New York Times, 30 April 2007. “The grandparents who helped raise Mr. Obama were nonpracticing Baptists and Methodists. His mother was an anthropologist who collected religious texts the way others picked up tribal masks, teaching her children the inspirational power of the common narratives and heroes.” For Obama’s own reflections on his religious upbringing, see his Audacity of Hope (New York: Crown, 2006), 202-204.
41. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, in The Works of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Paul Leicester Ford (New York: G. P. Putnam, 1904), 4: 78.
42. Greg Beato, “The Successories President,” Reason, February 2009, 16. . <>, (Accessed 2 March 2009).
43. President Obama’s exact words were, “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus—and non-believers.” See “We Will Remake America,” Vital Speeches of the Day, LXXV (February 2009): 51.

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