Monday, March 17, 2008

Blessings and Cursings

I don't really know that many songs. I was, so the story goes, a child performer. Mid-Sixties. Folk songs. But I haven't stayed current. Same old songs for the past forty-plus years. I'm not apologizing. Back when I listened to music, it was Classical, exclusively. Those tunes don't even have names -- just labels. So be it. Some songs, though, have seeped even through my muffled perceptions. And so I return once more to God Bless America. Mark Stein addresses the topic of Rev. Wright and his cursing from the pulpit. "God damn America." Tee hee.

Stein reminds us of the history of that song, the blessing song. I won't rehash it. But let's look at the song again. I kid you not, the words bring tears to my eyes.

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America,
My home sweet home.

Did you notice? "Stand beside her" -- be loyal, she's not as strong as she looks. "Guide her" -- be committed, she needs wisdom. "My home" -- because all history is past, and tomorrow is not promised, but we do, anyone who reads these words, have a home, and it's a pretty good one, and we should be thankful for it. Good lord. What manner of man would blaspheme that prayer?

Yes. Didn't you know? It's a prayer. It's a short song, but there is a little more to it. Goes like this:

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.

Written in 1938, you see, when that little Nazi thing was brewing. Not relevant to our modern era. There are no more Nazis. Just white racists and sexists and other identity criminals. But I digress. We are not perfectly free. But we are free. Our land is not entirely unblemished, but it is fair. The Reverend Wright took these manifest facts and made them a cheap ploy. It is not just a beautiful prayer, but a solemn one. He has polluted it.

Why would he do such a thing? He is a racist, is my theory. Maybe I'm wrong. But I think I'm right. Is it important that he's a racist? Well, it's not a good thing to be. And people in positions of influence, especially spiritual influence, should be extra careful, for they will surely be judged by a more stringent standard. The good apostle Paul tells us so. Wright must, must know it. And there's that little thing about there being in Christ no slave nor free, no male nor female, no countryman or barbarian -- no black nor white. I paraphrase. Does Wright not understand this most primal of Christian teachings?

No, it's not really, truly important. Neither is the fact that he is the much vaunted mentor of Sen. Obama. Obama is allowed to have fools for friends. He's allowed to be foolish himself, in some ways. We make our decisions using whatever criteria we will, and live with the consequences.

I take no pleasure in the distress of other -- not of other basically good people. Some people need to be tortured to death, forever. But hardly anyone. What is refreshing, though, is to see the hounds turn on their master. Every Republican gets close close close scrutiny, and is held accountable by the MSM for things outside his portfolio. The perfection police have now settled their slimy and belated malice upon Obama. The radiance fades. He's down five points in his favorability, and up six points in his unfavorability ratings. Fickle populi. But it's what happens when the secret places are opened up.

Obama's mistake was supposing he was what he seemed to be. He forgot, if I may be cheap, that he's half black and half white. Like all of us. We have our dark side. I know, I'm obvious. But if he uses himself as a living symbol of unity, he'd better understand just what exactly it is that needs to be unified. Not the races. There's only one. What needs to be unified is the disconnect in how human nature is projected. Not simple. Complex. None of us are good. Most of us just obey laws, and maybe try to act, act in a civil manner.

Most edifying is the admission of imperfections and the striving to overcome their influence. I know of only one perfect man. Obama was presented as a sort of messiah, and is enjoying a minor crucifixion now, not for his excellence but his human frailty. He was careless in the friends, mentors, he kept, and ineffective in explaining his loyalty and attraction to such teachings. Ah well. You're the same, and so am I. It's just that we must surely know this about ourselves, and be frank about it.

There's entirely too much damning. Let's not damn America, or any race, or people with whom we have mere disagreements. Let's be kind in our own lives, and not suppose that bureaucrats could possibly do a better job of it than we could. That would be a change. That would be real hope. We make our own blessings.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This country needs a strong leader with Godly principals.The RACE card has NO place in this!Wright has been Obama's mentor/pastor for many many years,and,trying to distance himself from Wright now would prove hypocritical to say the least.Wright needs to stand corrected by the CHURCH(both black and white)! Preaching hate from behind the pulpit is a slap in the face of JESUS! Jesus said to love one another.And to BLESS THOSE THAT CURSE YOU! Whether black or white,or,black and my opinion,Obama has showed himself ~WEAK~.May GOD bless America,and,may we continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.