I'm writing this just a few hours after the inauguration of President Barack Obama. I watched the ceremony and his speech on a big TV screen in one of the meeting rooms here at Our Sunday Visitor with dozens of co-workers from both our publishing and offering envelope divisions.
A couple of observations, and I'd be interested to know what you thought, too:
First, the pageantry surrounding the peaceful transition of administration power in our democracy is just about perfect. It is simple: An opening and closing prayer. Vice-presidential and presidential oaths of office. The National Anthem.
Because I'm a proponent of the civilizing effects of the arts, I like the idea of the ceremony's instrumental rendition of a Shaker song, and a poetry reading (but I found both this year's to be dissonant and uninspiring).
It is a testament to the maturity of our democracy that such a hard-fought, high-stakes electoral race can end so gracefully.
Second, whether you voted for Obama or not, the significance of the election of a mixed-race man to the presidency cannot fail to be inspiring. As one of the speakers said, just 46 years ago at the other end of that Mall, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I have a dream" speech. You could almost hear the echoes of that still ringing from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol.
Third, Obama delivered a pretty powerful, hope-filled speech. I wish he had gone further. Several times he came awfully close to using language that could have pro-life applications. Mr. President, how is it that you can issue a clarion call for the "God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness," without thinking about the rights and dignity of the unborn, the terminally ill, the elderly and society's most vulnerable? Defending the weakest among us is what will make America a strong nation again.
But hope is not just the language of political campaigns -- that's been a key component of our Christian identity for 2,000 years.
One ardent pro-life reader recently wrote me to explain her reason for hope:
"I will be praying for our new president every day, loving him as Christ loved me when I was determined to follow my own way and not [Christ's]. If we all pray for Mr. Obama's conversion to the mind of Christ on issues of life and family, and he responds to God's call in this, he could become a great and wonderful president."
"It is very exciting to think of it," she wrote. "Do we believe in God's ability and eagerness to perfect our natures with his grace, or do we not?"
I look forward to hearing from you, too, at the address below or at email@example.com.
Please note: Comments left online may be considered for publication in the Letters to the Editor section of OSV Newsweekly.
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