Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Prayer or Nursery Rhyme?

How sad.

An eighty-seven-year old Methodist minister had the honor to give the benediction at an Inauguration. Here was his opportunity as a Christian pastor, an elder-statesman, a worshiper of the Holy Trinity, to give a benediction, that is, a blessing, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit on a day that could have been seen as a day of unity and harmony.

But instead, America got the opposite.

With two million people listening live, and perhaps billions around the world via TV, Rev. Joseph Lowery tried to be "cute" instead of genuinely praying for the Lord to bless the people of the United States of America and the man who has been elected to the helm of its executive branch. Pastor Lowery seems to worship his own race and his own sense of "empowering victimhood" rather than the Triune God. What a missed opportunity for a called and ordained servant of the Word!

USA TODAY patronizingly calls Pastor Lowery's insulting race-based frittering away of his few seconds to bless and to do what God has called him to do (to stand in the stead and by the command of Jesus Christ to forgive sins, to proclaim the Gospel before the world, to speak truth to power) as an "impassioned benediction."

"Impassioned" is basically a euphemism for "emotional drivel." But I guess that wouldn't be politic to come out and say so.

I'm not sure whether I should be more insulted by the pastor's race-baiting and arrogant scolding of white people, praying to God that they "embrace what is right" (this after millions upon millions of whites voted a black man into office), or rather more embarrassed for him as a fellow pastor for what appears to be his attempt to sound like Dr. Seuss:
"help us work for that day when black will not be asked to give back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right."
This is about as much as a "benediction" as the old water-saving adage:

"If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down."

The sad part is that if Rev. Lowery hasn't grown up by now, he probably won't. At the age of 87, it's high time to join the ranks of the adults. Maybe the next inauguration will be more dignified (hopefully without the chanting at, booing, and taunting of, the former president). Americans are becoming an uglier people with an uglier culture, it seems, with each passing day. I can only imagine how far we will degrade over the next four, eight, sixteen, or thirty-two years.

No matter who wins the next election, I hope the Inauguration will have better, more faithful representatives of Christianity to offer prayers, and a real Christian benediction next time around.

Actually, the best benediction of all isn't particularly "impassioned," but at least it doesn't sound like a toilet flushing rhyme or a first book for toddlers. It is especially powerful because it is God's Word, it is not designed to be an insult or a belittling of people of any ethnicity, and it is applied to all of God's children regardless of their race, tribe, or tongue:
"The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and + give you peace. Amen."
Now that would have been a benediction we could have all said an "Amen" to.


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Actually, the worst clergy comment of the day came on the Daily Show from Gene Robinson. IT was witty. . . but. . . .

Stewart made a comment to Robinson along the lines that with 2 million people on the Mall it must have been very hard for him to move around, doubly so because as a bishop he can only move diagonally. (A funny line)

Robinson replied along the lines of - Well, a queen was on the board too.

Witty line. . . not the style of line that's quite. . . appropriate from the head of a church.

Trish said...

I thought his words were poignant and to the point myself...

solarblogger said...

What you refer to as the "water-saving" adage unfortunately came to my mind while he was speaking, too. My fear is that he himself noticed it and left it in for laughs.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Eric:

What a funny gay, I mean "guy." Too bad the poor fellow flunked biology.

The only saving grace is that Robinson really isn't a bishop - since it is a prerequisite that one be a Christian. Too bad a lot of people don't understand this and the Bride of Christ suffers.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Trish:

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, to be sure! I just don't see anything at all profound in this editorial commentary mislabeled "benediction" (which is actually a liturgical term for a "blessing").

I've heard more genuine blessings after a sneeze. But then again, that's just my opinion. Thanks for writing! And may the Lord bless you.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Solarbloggar:

I hope so. The alternative is really bad.