These Are Extraordinary Times

http://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/1827315/amazing-grace-barack-obama-delivers-searing-speech-us-race-relations

US President Barack Obama sings Amazing Grace during the eulogy. Photo: EPA

The small thought, as I re-post this from my friend Jeremy’s excellent blog, The Sand County, is that anyone who watches this full eulogy and comes away still thinking that our President is not a Christian. . . well, frankly, you people baffle me.

Maybe you don’t worship the same way at your church. Maybe you don’t agree with every point of doctrine, but how can you watch and listen, and not know in your soul that this is the gospel of Grace? Might not be the sermon you would have preached, Pastor, but it was there. This is what real Christianity is about.

Some of you, some of my friends and family, have needled me with barbed comments about our president for nearly eight years now. How much of that came from you? How much from the mouths of others, and you just repeated it because it made you feel better? How much came from a pre-prejudice, not necessarily about his skin, but about his faith, about his political party, about his goodness and humanity?

I cannot help but wonder. As a man who went to Bible college myself, so long ago, a former youth president, drama ministry member, Bible quiz champion, youth pastor, choir director, wedding singer, church bus driver–as a man who knows as much about your Christian faith as you do, I say: You spent 8 years spitting back the articles and Limbaugh quips. After 8 years, I’m asking for less than an hour; listen to this man and tell me you’re not proud to have a president like him in troubled times like these.

The larger lesson here for me is not about him though; it’s in the words he says, and the grace he calls for, in the demand for owning up to our prejudice and selfishness, our one-sided-ness. His call for a truly UNITED States.

I’m sick of going back to business as usual. Can’t we shake up this nation and get back on track? He all but said what I’ve been saying for ages: We agree on more than the nightly “news” stars want us to believe we do. I think we’ve made some good starts. You believe in freedom to pursue happiness? You believe that maybe Cain was wrong when he declined to be his brother’ keeper? Let’s do each other and our founders proud. How about some of that love we preach? How about some of that Grace?

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9 thoughts on “These Are Extraordinary Times

  1. Thank you very much for sharing this, David.

    I share your desire for a new beginning. I am overjoyed by the SCOTUS decision and my heart is full watching President Obama’s eulogy.

    I don’t think we as citizens or voters need to be for or against the president or the Democratic Party to applaud the idea that we as a people can be united by our common humanity even if we differ over policy. But more than that, I think that we can bask in the light of a truly important moment: a president speaking unabashedly of peace, brotherhood, love and trust. And reaffirming, I believe, the principles of our Republic while acknowledging its flaws, its failings and the shadows of its history.

    I also do not think that there is any doubt that the very best of Christian virtues were on display in this speech. After all, aren’t love, sisterhood/brotherhood, forgiveness and grace at the heart of Christianity? I am not a Christian, but I believe fervently in those things and know that you don’t have to belong to any narrow sect -or even be a Christian in the first place- to believe in and accept them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My own Christianity has been a memory for years now. Yes, the great thing here is the love, frankness and unity happening. I could never have imagined this 10 years ago. You used the word hopeful. It’s good to feel that again. I don’t think we’ve ever seen times like this.

      Liked by 1 person

    • No, I don’t think we have either. And I was reminded today why I think it is so important that the United States have a black president. I also think we need a president who is a woman, a Latino/Latina, an LGBTQ president. The phrase “identity politics” doesn’t capture it. What we need is leadership that looks, sounds and feels like the American people and represents voices and traditions that, until quite recently, were being written out of the “American experience.”

      I am hopeful that the Obama Presidency is the beginning of something new.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I like the way you think. You have me thinking about something I recently read about Juan Filipe Herrera, our new Poet Laureate. He’s the first Chicano laureate. He said what a good thing this, all these firsts, and one day he said maybe there will be no need for firsts.

      Like

  2. I haven’t heard the whole speech yet, but I heard a reporter comment on it saying, “Absolutely no one would have expected the speech to be like a sermon.” I had hoped to see it because that’s exactly what I would have expected.

    I’ve spent a good deal of my academic and professional life focused on rhetorical style, and I grew up in the church, listening to sermons every Sunday. Often I find myself listening to oratory or reading persuasive essays in the same way a figure-skating or gymnastics judge watches those performances.

    Not only is he masterful in his technical style and delivery, when he delivers a speech with a theme related to a core Christian value or belief, he brings a passion that is undeniably authentic. Those who choose to deny it are willfully doing so. I am sure that among them are good people, in the worst sense of the word.

    He could probably come down from the mountain carrying stone tablets, turn water into wine and then walk on it, and they would still nail him on the cross of political agendas . . . and worse.

    Sorry for gettin’ all riled up, but you started it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful, inspiring, challenging eulogy–thank you for sharing this, David. Loved the line about “calling Johnny instead of Jamal” for a job interview! I am proud to call him our President. It is definitely a time of change, and it is coming swiftly and surprisingly. I welcome it!

    Liked by 1 person

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