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6 Degrees Entertainment

Niels C. Nielsen (Author - 'God In The Obama Era') Niels C. Nielsen (Author - 'God In The Obama Era')

'In Niels We Trust!'

Asking hypothetical questions of dead presidents helps understand where our current one is taking us.

'God in the Obama Era' (Morgan James Publishing) begins and ends with chapters on Obama for relevance and interest, but the integral part of the book is actually a history of successive presidencies.

Niels C. Nielsen book is non-sectarian, positive and critical, and leaves the subject of Obama’s possible accomplishments and success open since it is too early yet for definitive judgments.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Niels C. Nielsen about her book, God In The Obama Era: Presidents' Religion and Ethics from George Washington to Barack Obama,' and first wondered at what point did it first cross his mind to evaluate the Obama phenomena through hypothetical discussions with past Presidents? "It crossed my mind to evaluate the Obama phenomenon in hypothetical discussions with past presidents quite late in the project. I knew what a colleague in Berkeley was doing in his teaching for some time. It only dawned on me that I could use his method after I had worked at length on the larger part of the book and wanted to join it to the Obama material."

Your new book, 'God in the Obama Era,' takes a fresh look at one of the most controversial issues of Obama's presidential campaign - the issue of his religious beliefs and background, and the effect they have on his daily decisions. Please explain this more with some examples "Obama's religious beliefs and background--how influence his decisions. He has said recently that his religious convictions help him to stand firm when he is under pressure. I think his beliefs and faith sharpen a number of decisions--about war and peace and just war for example."

"People like Kirbyjon Caldwell are incisive and reinforce his confidence to make the longer more difficult decisions. I think his religion helps his marriage. I think it helps him to reflect, not just shoot the hip as Bush II. His religion adds compassion and in part keeps him more humble. I do nnot believe he has a God complex. Very much, I think it keeps him from being cynical. But he is no Pietist!"

In comparing Obama with others - from Washington though Bush - which one did you find had the most interesting things to say, within their hypothetical discussions? "Who would share in hypothetical discussions? Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln with their questions. Probably Franklin Roosevelt, not Wilson. I think he would like to talk with both Kennedy and Nixon, maybe Carter, Certainly Clinton. Somewhere along the line I think he would like to ask in King!"

Given where we are within the Obama presidency, it obviously means that the outcome is left open, as it's simply too early for definitive judgments. That said, if you had a hypothetical discussion with Obama right now on this subject matter, what do you think he would say about your claims of him? "I hope he would say that I am not writing and thinking like Parson Weems (about Washington). I hope he would acknowledge my favoring King and Niebuhr. I hope he would see me as an academic who knows world religions and not just a pious eulogist. I also think he would say, "time will tell!"

Finally, being that you also wrote 'The Religion of Jimmy Carter,' which book was more fun for you to write - and why? "Jimmy Carter was the most fun but I learned much more from working on the list of presidents, especially as they relate to Obama."

Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk

Book Purchase link

So, if you would like to win a SIGNED copy of Niels C. Nielsen's new book, just answer this easy question: Barack Obama actually won a Grammy in 2006 ... but for what-named project?!

Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these wonderful new books! Just send us an e:mail here before June 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: NIELS C. NIELSEN SIGNED BOOKs to:

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