Monday, January 19, 2009

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!

I’ll never forget the day after Barack Obama’s election. I was driving to Tacoma, WA and running mantra-like through my brain was the refrain from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” I’d not felt so exhilarated in a long, long time! Now, finally we are at the eve of Mr. Obama’s Inauguration. The balls and fetes and concerts are all happening way back in Washington DC. My friends from Codepink are there all done up in pink dresses singing and dancing about the Constitution (no kidding—they are amazing). My friend Bishop Gene Robinson gave a great prayer yesterday. I plan to get up and watch the Inauguration live early tomorrow morning.

It seems everything dear to my heart is coming together. Rick Warren notwithstanding, Bishop Robinson’s voice at this time sings out, signaling that times indeed have changed with this new Administration. Bishop Robinson was not a “safe” choice for a cautious politician, but a daring choice for a bold politician. After the election I read columnists saying the African American vote elected Barack Obama and defeated gay marriage. Maybe; but no bridges appear to have been burned yet. Dearest of all is the sense that not only has Dr. King’s dream come true, but as one Methodist bishop wrote, we’ve moved beyond it. We’ve not eradicated racism, but we have raised the expectations of every person who works for that goal. I’ll bet Dr. King is dancing for joy, and the entire heavenly chorus is singing “Glory, glory hallelujah!”

Now to take up the War on Poverty again.

In church yesterday a man prayed “for reasonable expectations” and there were some murmurs of assent (there was actually spontaneous verbal assent in an Episcopal Church service!). We have not elected a messiah, but a president. He is a politician and has to do the work of a politician, which means he can’t please all the people all the time. But I also pray that Mr. Obama will make a forthright and honest case for the decisions he makes, listening respectfully to the citizens of this country. No deceit, no glib assurances. What I really want is nuance in our political discourse; give me gray, not black and white. After reading “Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope” I know Mr. Obama is an excellent writer, in touch with the ambiguity of life. His campaign showed that his sense of self-awareness and cool disposition will help him broaden the scope of our national and international debates.

The economy, the war, issues of health care and education: these are enormous challenges. Victory is not assured, but today I feel an optimism I have never felt about an American President ever before.

Happy Birthday Dr. King!

God bless us, each and every one.

1 comment:

terry said...

Hi Clark,
Sorry you're not here to celebrate this great day! Hope everyone is well and looking forward to seeing you in February at SBU and the Friary!