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January 21, 2009


Obama inaugural thoughts (random … very)

by quaesitor

(photos c/o BBC)

Apart from what was obviously an extraordinarily symbolic day – and one that is a right cause for rejoicing and history-making – I was moved by much of what happened. Here are some thoughts from yesterday’s momentous events:

  • Obama is a great loss to preaching – he is clearly a brilliant and persuasive communicator. He even quoted the Bible (of course, his use of 1 Cor 13:11 was not exactly preserving the context, but we’ll let that rest because I think its wider context does have acute relevance to what he was saying). 
  • What was interesting (to me at any rate) was that this speech was different from many we’ve heard from Obama. For yesterday, he wasn’t campaigning. He doesn’t need to for the moment – he’s already entered the history books for all kinds of reasons. Nor was this like the King’s or Queen’s speech at the start of a new British Parliament. It wasn’t a manifesto as such. No – it was an appeal… an exhortation… a sermon.
  • So his sermon to the nation (and indeed to the world) contained some of the key elements of an evangelistic address – a searing analysis of the seriousness of the problems facing America and the world; an impassioned plea (for a unity of purpose); a profoundly challenging ‘altar call’ (urging his ‘fellow citizens’ – he could so easily have begun ‘My brothers and sisters’ – to bear the full weight of responsibility to make change). 
  • What’s more, that call to service (which he described pithily as the ‘price and promise of citizenship’) is one he explicitly made in the context of God’s purpose and plans (although of course American unlike British politics needs lip-service paid to divinity however defined)
  • He certainly didn’t pull his punches – there were no easy platitudes about how things were all going to be ok now. I was impressed with how hard-hitting it was – although of course there are political reasons for doing this (it simply magnifies the gulf that lies between the legacy of 43 and the challenge faced by 44).
  • His rhetoric even occasionally resembled the civil rights preachers of the 60s – was I the only one to discern the echoed strains of MLK Jr?

It was an amazing spectacle all in all. Glad to have watched it – and it spurred my prayers for the new administration.

Other stuff:

Also check out this from the BBC about how CHINA CENSORED THE SPEECH

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ross
    Jan 21 2009

    I know that there were very political reasons – not just theological ones – for the choice of Rick Warren to give the prayer yesterday, but I was nonetheless very encouraged by it. The symbolism of the choice is incredibly important, and I have already this morning had a conversation with a member of my staff about the importance of the First Pastor and his views.
    While I (and we) pray for the outcomes of Obama’s presidency (peace, prosperity, etc.) it is easy to forget about the process and journey of getting there. Pastor Warren’s prayer reminded me at least that sometimes it’s as important to think about the motivation and power behind change, as it is the impact and result we end up with.
    Just one example (to show my critical abilities can look left as well as right) is New Labour’s drive to end poverty and increase prosperity. Without, dare I say it, a moral compass at the heart of any economic plan a more affluent society may well be less just than what has passed. So my prayer is that Obama does seek council from the right places and builds his change on the right foundation that will, God willing, lead to change that lasts and hopes that are realised.

  2. serendipity hopeful
    Jan 21 2009

    Congratulations to President Obama and to all Americans.The peaceful and orderly transition of power is something you can rightly be proud of. Your ability to self-correct through the various stages of your nation’s history augur well for your future.

    As a foreigner who wants good things to happen in any and all parts of the world, I wish Americans will work more in harmony with their president. How successful Obama can be as American president will depend on how well his fellow-Americans can rein in their demands for their expectations to be satisfied.

    Keep the hopes alive.

  3. Ross
    Jan 21 2009

    Check this clip out from the daily show….

    Maybe Bush’s only problem was his delivery?

  4. Jan 21 2009

    Personally I’m a great fan of preachers not being confined to the church pulpit, so if there’s one in the White House then God bless him.

    We’re currently studying Nehemiah and someone today noted that in Obama’s closing paragraph, ‘may the gracious hand of God be upon us’ is from Nehemiah 2. Very U2 – quote the Bible but don’t let on!

  5. D Groothuis
    Jan 22 2009

    Don’t be hoodwinked by O’s charm. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing–actually a wolf in wolf’s clothing if you bother to look. See John 7:24.

  6. hugh
    Jan 23 2009

    There’s an interesting comparison of the word clouds for different inaugural speeches (Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Lincoln) at


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