Prayers and poems …

I don’t believe in a Great Sky Spirit, whether it’s the Christian God or any other. But I do believe that people, when called together under a common cause for the good of all, generate a kind of power. Call it the Power of Good, if you will. I’ve been irritated by all the hoo-haw over Pastor Rick Warren giving an invocation for Barack Obama’s inauguration because, first of all, I think this is an excellent occasion to show the pragmatism and seriousness of “the separation of church and state.” A public prayer sort of ruins the whole concept, you know?

But despite my irritation it seems that Mr. Obama wants the bigoted Mr. Warren there, presumably to lay a little soothing on all those panicky fundamentalists out there. I can understand that even if I don’t like it.

So I was glad to find out, after weeks of liberal upset over Warren, that Obama asked gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robison to open Sunday’s Inauguration concert with a blessing and prayer. At least a real, live, loving and non-bigoted person would be giving it, I thought. And then I read the text, thoughtfully provided by Joan Walsh at

“O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will bless us with tears — tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless this nation with anger — anger at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort at the easy, simplistic answers we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be fixed anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility, open to understanding that our own needs as a nation must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance, replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences.

Bless us with compassion and generosity, remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable.

And God, we give you thanks for your child, Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, inspire him with President Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for all people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our ship of state needs a steady, calm captain.

Give him stirring words; We will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking far too much of this one. We implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand, that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity, and peace. Amen.”

You don’t have to believe in God or be a Christian to wholeheartedly join in that prayer.

Later. MUCH later …

I was just looking at my Yahoo home page, which I have nicely arranged with lots of news. And there I saw, under “NYT Opinion,” an editorial titled, “Mr. Bush’s Gentlemanly Goodbye.” This made me snort with disgust. I ran the cursor over it and the teaser appeared: “The Bush administration may be leaving the country with big policy problems. But George W. Bush deserves a big gold star for the way he is leaving his office.”

I yelled at poor Mr. Data, my faithful Dell laptop, who certainly didn’t do anything to be treated that way, unlike Mr. Bush. “A gold star! Codpiece doesn’t deserve a gold star! He doesn’t deserve friggin’ anything! Maybe an F-! Or detention! Ghahhhhh!” Then I clicked on the title to read the editorial, which was posted an hour ago. I had to know which gasbag wrote this one.

It was Norman Ornstein, whom I’ve never heard of. But he’s a “resident scholar” at the American Enterprise Institute, that rabid colony of right-wing, neoconservative, fundamentalist Christer thought. If you can call what they do thinking. Honestly, looking at our country and the trouble we’re in right now, who in his or her right mind would give Bush a gold star for the job he’s done as president except one of these malicious vipers at the AEI?

Yes, I should calm down. In reality, Ornstein was writing about how nicely Bush has accomodated Obama in the transition. Never mind that such an action should be automatic, given the gravity of the situation and the office. We should expect nothing less of any outgoing president. For this Ornstein thinks Bush should get a gold star? For being a good boy? Not throwing a temper tantrum? For not putting a whoopee cushion on the oval office desk chair?

After eight years of BushCo’s and the neocon’s nasty, dangerous, destructive bullshit, I’ve just about had it. I don’t have any more patience. Call me crazy, but these rattleheads need to be certified and locked up forever in a securely guarded warm place with soft walls, rubber spoons and plastic bowls of Jell-o. They’re … well. This:

let’s save pity
for the millions of victims
of bush’s conscience.

for bush
there ought to be
only howls of ’shame’
execrations, and
a speedy trial
where he stands in the dock
with his co-conspirators and -perpetrators.

he is the best proof
of the truth
of his argument
that there actually is
such a thing
as evil

That poem was written by commenter Steve Elkind on Judith Warner’s “Domestic Disturbances” blog post, “Bush and Bauer, Running on Empty,” yesterday. Warner posited the idea that we ought to find some pity for Bush in our hearts because of his stunning inability (or outright refusal) to perceive his many mistakes.

But Elkind has it right. Bush and his cronies don’t deserve pity. They’re evil. Evil can be stupid as well as smart, as we’ve seen since the turn of the century. And it has nothing to do with “Satan,” who I don’t believe in any more than I believe in “God.”

Yet I do believe in evil. I’ve witnessed it in action on a daily basis for years now.

It’s almost time, President Obama. You don’t mind if I call you President, do you? In just a few more hours, you’ll be inaugurated and you’ll go down in history with that title, anyway. I already think of you as the President of my country. You’re going to do a good job, with the help of the People. You’ve made me proud of America, and us, again.

You got here just in the nick of time. Let’s get rid of this evil, shall we?


2 Responses to “Prayers and poems …”

  1. Larry Jones Says:

    Well said! I missed that commentary in The Times. However, I saw this one by the sycophant William Kristol, and it steamed my glasses a bit. Despite what I wrote today (Inauguaration Day, woohoo!), I really want to forget about the past eight years. If I can.

  2. Beautiful prayer. I’d have loved to have heard it aloud, and will try to find a video of it online.

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