A few years back, about a week after he’d handily won the Democratic primary in Illinois — long before he gave that famous keynote address at the 2004 DNC and looooooong before the rest of the country knew his “funny” name — I had the opportunity as the religion reporter for the Sun-Times to interview Barack about his spirituality, an interview that eventually made its way as a chapter unto itself in my book, The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People.

As we left the cafe on Michigan Avenue where we’d had our interview conversation, the soon-to-be US senator walking south, me walking north, I got out my cell phone and called my father in Connecticut and said, simply, “Daddy, I just met the first black president of the United States.”

Here’s one of my favorite things Barack told me from that chapter in The God Factor:

“The most powerful political moments for me come when I feel like my actions are aligned with a certain truth. I can feel it. When I’m talking to a group and I’m saying something truthful, I can feel a power that comes out of those statements that is different than when I’m just being glib or clever.

Is that the power of the Holy Spirit? I asked him.
“I think it’s the power of the recognition of God, or the recognition of a larger truth that is being shared between me and the audience. That’s something you learn watching ministers — what they call the Holy Spirit. They want the Holy Spirit to come down while they’re preaching, right? Not to try to intellectualize it, but what I see there are moments that happen within a sermon where the minister gets out of his ego and is speaking from a different source. And it’s powerful. There are also time when you can see the ego getting in the way, where the minister is performing and clearly straining for applause or an amen. And those are distinct moments. But I think those former moments are sacred.”

Here’s a little of what Barack had to say on CNN last week during an interview with Larry King:

Posted on: October 23, 2006

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