Saturday, January 24, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Garrison Keillor hauled himself down to D.C. for the inauguration today. here's the end of his reflection at Salon.com
There was a profound silence when Mrs. Bush was announced and walked out. People watched the big screen and when Mrs. Obama appeared, there was a roar, and when the Current Occupant and Mr. Cheney came out of the Capitol, a low and heartfelt rumble of booing. Dignified booing. Old black ladies around me tried to shush them -- "Don't do that!" they hissed -- but it's a democracy, and how will those men know how we feel if we don't tell them?
The band tootled on and there were shouts of "O-ba-ma" and also "Yes we can" (and also "Down in front") and then he came out and the place went up. That was the first big moment. The second was when he took the oath and said, "So help me, God" and the cannons boomed and you got a big lump in your throat. And the third was afterward.
The invocation was extensive and segued into the Lord's Prayer, and the music was OK if you like Aaron Copland, and the inaugural speech was good enough, calling on us all to great deeds and sacrifice, details to be announced later. You could hear each oratorical phrase repeated over and over in the series of loudspeakers down the Mall and bouncing off stone facades, a sort of cubist effect. The inaugural poet followed, a sort of filler, with a long windup, a few good phrases in the middle ("someone is trying to make music somewhere ... a teacher says, 'Take out your pencils. Begin'"), and then it trailed off into some misty thoughts about love. And then a big horn blast of a benediction.
But the great moment came later, as the mob flowed slowly across the grounds. I heard loud cheers behind me and there on the giant screen was the Former Occupant and Mrs. Bush saying goodbye to the Obamas in the parking lot behind the Capitol, the Marine helicopter behind them.
The crowd stopped and stared, a little stunned at the reality of it.
They saw it on a screen in front of the Capitol and it was actually happening on the other side. The Bushes went up the stairs, turned, waved and disappeared into the cabin, and people started to cheer in earnest. When the blades started turning, the cheering got louder, and when the chopper lifted up above the Capitol and we saw it in the sky heading for the airport, a million jubilant people waved and hollered for all they were worth. It was the most genuine, spontaneous, universal moment of the day. It was like watching the ice go out on the river.
(Garrison Keillor is the author of a new Lake Wobegon novel, "Liberty," published by Viking.)
at 10:25 PM
Monday, January 19, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
*Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from bloodguilt, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, isa a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Monday, January 05, 2009
Long-time subscribers know that Monday Sightings does not "do" U.S. Presidents or presidential candidates, but this twilight moment after an election and before an inauguration provides me with another category, "President-Elect," which today's column will notice for an important reason. That reason? The approach to religion-and-politics proposed by President-Elect Obama in his "Call to Renewal" address on May 28, 2006. I may print it out and use my new Christmas-gift magnets to affix it to a refrigerator door as a text for morning meditations. Here is an excerpt:
"Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. Democracy requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all...Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what's possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It's the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God's edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one's life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy-making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing."
Now, contrast this with a message posted by the Reverend Pastor Richard Duane Warren, with whom I have no motive to pick a fight. But I wish he would engage in dialogue with his friend, the President-elect, before and after Inauguration Day. Warren:
"As church leaders, we know our congregations are not allowed to endorse specific candidates, and it's important for us to recognize that there can be multiple opinions among Bible-believing Christians when it comes to debatable issues such as the economy, social programs, Social Security, and the war in Iraq. But for those of us who accept the Bible as God's Word and know that God has a unique, sovereign purpose for every life, I believe there are five issues that are non-negotiable. To me, they're not even debatable because God's Word is clear on these issues."
These have to do with abortion, stem-cell harvesting, homosexual "marriage," human cloning, and euthanasia. He chose these five, about which the printed Bible displays only a few inches of text that can even be used as inferences to support them, as "non-negotiable" themes. He shelves as negotiable the multiple yards of printed biblical texts on some social issues which to him seem negotiable. With the President-Elect I affirm that Pastor Warren's "uncompromising commitments may be sublime," but I do see that "to base our policy-making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing."
We Bible-believing Christians are offended when some Muslims base social and political policy on the Qur'an, or ruling parties in India, on texts from their holy books, since we do not accept such texts as "God's Word." What Pastor Warren and millions in his camp advocate works only in a theocracy, where the whole population accepts or is forced to accept one faith's "God's Word." I really, really would like to eavesdrop if the President-Elect and the Pastor were to converse about this question.
Read Obama's Call to Renewal address.