Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Hussein Obama, 44th President of the United States of America

Barack Hussein Obama, the unlikeliest candidate, the unlikeliest nominee, in the history of American politics, is the 44th President of the United States of America.

Is this the greatest nation in the history of the world, or what?

Despite all the hoo-hah about Rick Warren giving the invocation (I know there are a lot of atheists out there -- see, for instance, Carol Anne from Seattle in the comments section here), I think he did a beautiful, solemn and very reverent job. But then, I'm a Christian (even if a very different sort of Christian than Rick Warren).

There is no one in the entire world like Aretha Franklin, and I confess that her extraordinary rendition (pun intended) of "My Country 'Tis of Thee" left me in tears, sobbing like a baby (was this as cathartic an experience for you as it was for me?). At my age -- can you imagine?

Obama's (first) inaugural address to the nation was, I must say, in my most humble opinion, not his best speech. But it was an important one nonetheless.

I am very gratified that President Obama (don't you love the sound of that?) echoed themes that IN THE DARK has championed for the last four years. For example, the primacy of the Constitution and of human rights over mere "security":

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.

Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

Against the ignorant claim that America is a "Christian nation":

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth.

And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

And recognition of our complicity in creating and supporting policies that cause others to suffer poverty and exploitation:

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.

And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

The bottom line: this was an historic day; perhaps the most important day, and certainly one of the most important days, in American history. To think that I lived to see a day that I never truly believed I would see, and yet always -- in my heart -- believed I would see, is to me nothing short of miraculous, and is another sign of God's gratuitous love for us, Her undeserving creation.

America is the greatest nation in the history of the world. And I have never been prouder to call myself "American."

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