Wednesday, January 21, 2009

inauguration day

It was great to have Barby and all my kids up early watching the Obama inauguration with me. A moment for history. As usual I thought Obama's speech was brilliant - both in its content and its tone. I am so enjoying hearing and watching the spoken word inspire people in an era where there has been a 'humiliation of the word' (J Ellul). And these are just the words of Obama, not even the words of God!

I also thought Rick Warren was not quite at his best and misfired badly by quoting a verse that mentioned "Israel". It seemed so unwise at this moment in history. And he was eclipsed a bit by a special - and unexpected - thrill with the closing prayer by Rev Joseph Lowery. If you didn't get to hear it, I've linked it below:



nice chatting

Paul

4 comments:

Ali said...

I'm guessing that Rick Warren is slightly more Southern Baptist than one usually suspects. :)

Mark Maffey said...

Hi Paul article in stuff also makes some similar comments

http://www.stuff.co.nz/4825850a12.html
United States President Barack Obama's inauguration speech ranks alongside John Kennedy's as one of the greatest speeches of all time, a Massey University expert says.


"It was definitely in the same league," speech-writing lecturer Dr Heather Kavan said.


Kavan said the standout line for her was: "We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."


For me one of the interesting lines was his comment in respect of the "patchwork heritage" of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and non-believers.

I wonder about the categorization of non-believers and whether he will face any repercussions around it.

Having said this two other parts of his speech were to me quite powerful

"We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness." and;

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny."

I think we can be challenged by these words can we set aside the childish things and re-affirm our Focus on God, I think it needs to begin in our churches and spread out from there.

Paul said...

It even reads well in the comments section of a blog, doesn't it Mark?!

Then what is happening with Christianity Today - America's leading evangelical magazine? In their latest edition they have some so-called expert on inauguration speeches(Michael Gerson) headlined as saying that Obama's speech was 'rhetorically flat, but ideologically interesting'. What?! See http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/januaryweb-only/103-56.0.html

I found it to be rhetorically soaring and ideologically enthralling, thank-you very much.

There is a section of the Christian church in the USA that just demonises Obama. They look and listen and they see and hear something completely different from me.

I guess they are also the same people who think that abortion is the only ethical issue that matters. I detest abortion (although my wife in her work with refugees frequently encounters women who have had babies after being violently raped...which makes me pause) but when will these people wake up and read the OT prophets, listen to Jesus and recognise that there is a world of social ethics equally as important as any personal ethics.

On a blog I follow from the UK a guy - who I think is a well known Christian author in the US - 'commented' on Obama as 'not even a sheep in wolf's clothing, but a wolf in wolf's clothing'. Goodness me?! Really?! Is he deceiving us that much?

I guess history is about to decide which perspective is right.

not a wild hera said...

thanks for this post, Paul. on my sixth viewing of Rev Lowery my spine still tingled. his benediction opened our service yesterday and we joined in the amens with un-kiwi enthusiasm.

i join in your incredulity about some christian responses to Obama - a wolf in wolf's clothing?? 'rhetorically flat'??. i'm going to stick with hopefulness for a while yet. the closing of guantanamo will be a good day for the US.

thalia