Friday, December 19, 2008

How We Got into this Mess: A Faith-Based Perspective

I suppose that Tim Dickinson decided to post a pointer to the Invocation and Benediction texts from the 2001 Inauguration in his National Affairs blog to put the selection of Pastor Rick Warren into "perspective" (Dickinson's word choice). The real perspective, however, is the recognition of just how meaningless these shards of religious ritual are. Let us assume that in 2001 the Reverend Kirbyjohn Caldwell uttered the following text in all sincerity:

Forgive us for choosing pride over purpose, forgive us for choosing popularity over principles and forgive us for choosing materialism over morals.

How was this text received? Was it received as a warning of the abuses of Presidential power (to appropriate the title of the book by Richard Neustadt); or was it a sop to comfort those who saw themselves as "the faithful" with the assurance that they would be forgiven for sins even as dire as those the Reverend Caldwell chose to enumerate? My guess is that Bush's faith will continue to delude him into taking the second reading. Will the 2009 Inauguration portend a similar round of delusional thinking? In the interest of the separation of Church and State, would it be too much to ask for a "faith-free" (not faithless) Inauguration ceremony?

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