A billion words will be written about Barack Obama’s strong, sinewy inaugural address, so I’d like to write about how pleasantly surprised I was by Rick Warren’s invocation.

As an evangelical and a favorite of the right wing, he came to this moment surrounded by controversy. As a Jew and a Democrat, I was prepared to hear his speech with a jaundiced ear. But I was moved. He cut to the heart of the moment. In fact, judged only by my own tears, he provided the most moving and profound portion of the morning, which is saying something.rick-warren1

As Warren neared the end of his speech, I was glad not to have heard the name of Jesus invoked. That name, in a speech addressed to all Americans, excludes all Americans who don’t accept him as their savior. But then he did. I don’t know whether it is traditional to say Jesus’s name in Presidential inaugural ceremonies (I expect that if I look far back enough in history, I will find it a common occurence), but it sounded a slightly troubling note. On the other hand, Warren earlier in his speech invoked the words of the Sh’ma, the central prayer of the Jewish faith: “Hear O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is One.” So I guess fair is fair. In any case, the Jesus moment was at worst a single instant in a speech that otherwise remarkably struck just the right notes (unless you are an atheist, in which case, you can take heart from the words in Obama’s speech when he gave an inclusionary shout-out to you), so I forgive him.


4 Comments on “Jesus.”

  1. Audrey Lavine says:


  2. rovronr says:

    This is your worst nightmare.
    Two of your followers completely agree on a grammatical false step — egregious use of adjectives. ‘Strong’ and ‘sinewy’.
    Oh, boy.
    From this day forward, Ted, Audrey and I will be lurking out here in the deep shadows, watching.
    Yes. We will be watching. And we are ready to pounce, Ted.
    Be careful. Be very, very careful.

  3. William Marks says:

    If you want to read a real prayer, check this one out from the Rev. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial before the Inaugural concert:

    O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

    Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

    Bless us with 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 the 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 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, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

    Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

    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, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

    Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

    Give him stirring words, for 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 the 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 know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and 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.


  4. Ted Naron says:

    That is great.

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