My American readers will already be acquainted with Ben Carson’s marvellous life story.

Therefore, this post is intended mainly for readers in other countries.

Carson is the only black candidate for the presidency at present. He is a Republican.

The Revd Michael Ashcraft and Mark Ellis wrote an outstanding article on Carson for their news site Godreports (H/T: Pastor Ashcraft’s Mustard Seed Budget).

What follows is a summary and excerpts from ‘God answered Ben Carson’s prayer before chemistry exam with a powerful dream’ and other sources. Emphases mine below.

Detroit origins and conversion

Ben Carson was born in Detroit, Michigan, on September 18, 1951, to Sonya (née Copeland) and the Revd Robert Solomon Carson, a Seventh Day Adventist minister.

Ben Carson has remained a member of the sect, although he attends churches of other denominations. For him:

it’s the relationship with God that’s most important.

His DNA reveals that he is 20% European and 80% Makua. The Makua are a Bantu ethnic group found today in Mozambique and South Africa.

When Ben was eight years old, his parents divorced. His mother raised him and his brother Curtis alone. An article in the Telegraph reveals that she worked three jobs when many of her neighbours relied on welfare:

“She thought you could do it on your own and not be beholden to anybody else,” he says. “She got a lot of arguments from a lot of people who said, come on, you can sit at home, the government will give you money.

“Well the interesting thing is most of those people never went anywhere and their kids never went anywhere. And you know I became a brain surgeon, my brother became a rocket scientist.”

As Americans will know, Detroit is not an easy city in which to live. Ben could have ended up in big trouble. When he was a teenager he and a friend:

were arguing over a choice of radio stations. Things got heated and Ben took out a pocketknife and lunged the knife blade toward his friend’s stomach.

The blade hit his friend’s belt buckle, broke in half, which saved his friend from harm and Ben from becoming a murderer. Frightened by what nearly happened, Ben ran home and locked himself in the bathroom with a Bible.

Ben turned to the wisdom of Proverbs, reading “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1); or “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins” (29:22), and a final admonition, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18).

Humbled by the power of God’s Word, Carson realized that if left to his own devices, his anger would drive him toward ruin. Instead he prayed that God would help him control his temper instead of letting it control him, and God answered his prayer.

He continued reading:

Carson said two stories inspired him in his life: Up from Slavery, an autobiography of Booker T. Washington, and the account of Joseph’s life in the Old Testament of the Bible.

If you’ve never read Up from Slavery, I highly recommend it. Like Carson, I read it in high school and was blown away. Were that Booker T Washington more of a recommended role model for inner-city youth rather than rappers and gang leaders! Washington founded the Tuskegee Institute — now a university — in Alabama in 1881 for former slaves and their children. The book recounts that story and more:

He reflects on the generosity of both teachers and philanthropists who helped in educating blacks and native Americans. He describes his efforts to instill manners, breeding, health and a feeling of dignity to students. His educational philosophy stresses combining academic subjects with learning a trade (something which is reminiscent of the educational theories of John Ruskin). Washington explained that the integration of practical subjects is partly designed to reassure the white community as to the usefulness of educating black people.

This book was first released as a serialized work in 1900 through The Outlook, a Christian newspaper of New York. This work was serialized because this meant that during the writing process, Washington was able to hear critiques and requests from his audience and could more easily adapt his paper to his diverse audience.[1]

Washington was a controversial figure in his own lifetime, and W. E. B. Du Bois, among others, criticized some of his views. The book was, however, a best-seller, and remained the most popular African American autobiography until that of Malcolm X.[2] In 1998, the Modern Library listed the book at No. 3 on its list of the 100 best nonfiction books of the 20th century.

But I digress.

In high school Carson joined the JROTC programme, becoming a military cadet. His spiritual and temporal self-discipline helped him get accepted to Yale University, where he majored in Psychology. Afterwards, he returned home to earn his medical degree at the University of Michigan Medical School. He returned to the East coast for a residency at the renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Stellar medical career

Carson became a neurosurgeon with an interest in paediatric medicine. He has performed detailed, exhausting surgery on conjoined twins and became a pioneer in this regard:

Carson went on to become the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head. He also revived an extreme form of brain surgery in which part or all of one hemisphere of the brain is removed to control severe pediatric epilepsy.

The twins conjoined at the head underwent 22 hours of surgery.

He has always prayed before an operation:

Even when I don’t operate, I pray because I feel that God is the ultimate source of all wisdom,” said Carson.

“Quite frankly, as a neurosurgeon, there’s a lot of emphasis on technical ability, but I believe that that’s something that can be taught, but wisdom comes from God and I think that it’s something that you have to seek.”

In another difficult operation on conjoined twins from Zambia, Carson:

reached a particularly challenging point in the operation that involved separating a tangle of blood vessels. Carson began to feel frustrated and fatigued.

I began praying desperately that God would take over and simply use me to accomplish what only he could do,” he noted later.

Despite the exhaustion that had almost paralyzed me a short time earlier, I now sensed a remarkable steadiness in my hands. I felt a strange calm, an almost detached awareness – as if I were merely watching my hands move and someone else had actually taken over the surgery.”

… “I don’t know that I have ever experienced anything quite like what happened in the operating room that day. When I separated the very last vein connecting Joseph and Luka, the stereo system at that very moment began playing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. I suspect every single person in that OR felt goose bumps and knew that something remarkable had taken place. And it was not our doing,” he said, giving all the praise and glory to God.

Post-retirement

Carson retired from practising medicine in 2013.

He has a number of lucrative engagements since then. He has written for The Washington Times and is a commentator for Fox News. He has published his autobiography and has written other books for Zondervan Books, a Christian publisher.

He has also served on the boards of directors of Kellogg’s and Costco. He resigned from the latter earlier this year.

He also rejoined the Republican Party in 2014 after a hiatus of many years during which he was an independent.

Carson is a much sought-after public speaker at churches and for citizens’ organisations, one of them being the 2013 Values Voters Summit in Washington, DC. He told the audience that ObamaCare is:

the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” further adding that it is a form of slavery because it “[makes] all of us subservient to the government.”

Insurance companies have also attracted his wrath. In 2009:

Carson said that he found the “concept of for-profits for the insurance companies” absurd. He continued, “The first thing we need to do is get rid of for-profit insurance companies. We have a lack of policies and we need to make the government responsible for catastrophic health care. We have to make the insurance companies responsible only for routine health care.”[62][63]

Race for the White House

Although Carson trails Donald Trump, he has been firmly in second place among the GOP candidates for weeks (as of this writing).

On September 15, the Telegraph reported:

Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, says he is “not the slightest bit” worried about sharing the stage with Mr Trump, and a New York Times/CBS News poll putting him on 23 per cent to Mr Trump’s 27 per cent suggested his confidence is not misplaced.

“The Donald” has been publicly firing salvoes of insults at Dr Carson, accusing him of lacking energy and implying he is not “smart” enough to lead.

“That is the claim of someone who doesn’t really know me,” Dr Carson told the Telegraph. “Someone who hasn’t seen me standing at the operating table for 10, 12, 18 hours doing complex surgeries, dealing with complex situations that come up at the last moment.”

Too right!

On September 16, CNN reported:

Trump is still leading GOP candidates and has 22% of likely voters in the New Hampshire Republican primary, according to the WBUR survey. But Carson has garnered 18% of support, bringing him within 4 points of Trump. Fiorina has 11%, pushing Bush out of the top 3. The former Florida governor and Ohio Gov. John Kasich both polled at 9%.

On October 20, 2015, Real Clear Politics showed a 4.8 point lead — 48.2 to 43.4 — over Hillary Clinton, top Democratic Party contender. (By the time you look at the chart figures will have changed.)

The Telegraph article and Wikipedia have more on Carson’s political views. On IS, Carson says:

You can’t stick your head in the ground and hope they will go away. Going and singing kum-bah-yah by the fire does not work,” he said, describing how he thinks the current administration has handled the jihadist takeover of Iraq and Syria.

“You know, Isil are looking like winners, so of course people want to be on the winning team. If you really want to defeat them you have to make them not look like winners – that means take that land back from them, and you are not going to be able to do that by dropping bombs in the desert.”

No doubt Carson’s wife Candy is a source of great support to him in his campaign.

Ben Carson is one to watch. Although I do not intend to comment much on the 2016 US elections, I do hope that he wins the Republican nomination and would be delighted to see him in the White House.

Advertisements