Sunday, January 25, 2009

America's Civil Religion

Amen, brother! This Sunday morning I'll not be sitting in a pew, nor watching a televangelist on TV, but I will be filled with a 'religious' experience as I reflect back upon the week that just ended.  I was there, atop the Washington Monument with my wife, daughter and eldest grandson.

  Aretha Franklin sang the opening 'prayer' for the 2 million of us standing on the National Mall on Inauguration Day, My Country 'Tis of Thee.  Her improvisation of the famous song included this MLK tribute, “Let freedom ring From the red clay of Georgia, all the way to the Allegheny Mountains. Let freedom ring.”

So many 'religious' images were on display in Washington, D.C. that day: the Washington Monument, the Flag, the Capitol, the sacred ground of The National Mall itself.  Two million fellow 'worshipers' in this hallowed space.

Our civil preacher, installed only moments earlier, said, “On this day we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”

A bit later he told us, “This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall. And why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.”



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