With a train ride reminiscent of Abraham Lincoln’s 1861 rail trip to Washington DC for his inauguration, President-elect Barak Obama and vice-president elect Joe Biden traveled to Washington with their families aboard an Amtrak train. Obama’s inauguration will launch a presidency his transition staff is calling “A New Birth of Freedom,” a symbolic allusion to Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, and his Emancipation Proclamation that freed American slaves.
Obama’s historic pilgrimage is generating images and metaphors that evoke powerful longings in the American public–for a country and government that will support fully their needs for peace, tranquility, economic stability, and the resolution of conflicts, domestically and abroad.
Foreign journalists are comparing the new American President’s beginnings to both US Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt. Hopes are high for this new American odyssey under President Obama, maybe unrealistically high, given the country’s economic condition.
Despite my significant disagreement with his current position on abortion, I am hopeful too. I once read an account of a Christian leader who said, paraphrasing, “I’d pick a smart man over a pious man every time. Piety can be learned. Stupidity can’t be unlearned.”
There’s where I am now. I believe that Obama is a believer, albeit in process like the rest of us. I am happy with his plans so far. He strikes me as a leader who, for the most part, has his values in the right places, and has the courage to act on them.
I’m moved by all the Lincolnesque imagery at the start of his Presidency. I am encouraged by his Cabinet choices, and his plan to block any tendency toward unethical behavior or scandal in his new administration.
I love Barak’s accessibility and willingness to mix it up with ordinary people. I was happy to read that Michelle Obama sent their interior designer to Ikea for kid-friendly furniture for their children’s White House bedrooms. No pretension there! I am also impressed that the Obamas invited his mother-in-law to live with the family in the White House. Those small symbolic acts send powerful signals about the tone and tenure of his governance.
America’s had her fill of aloof, elitist, inaccessible bureaucratic “royalty,” arrogantly making decisions from their own self interest in the name of the American people. At least I’m sure I have!
So far, Obama has made sound decisions–except for his abortion views. But God can move any heart that is listening. Let’s pray for and impart the gift of a listening heart to our new president.
Let’s pray together that this giant of a man remains a righteous giant in God’s eyes, and grows into his role as the National Shepherd we all need, and God has ordained. And lets continue to stand in the gap, as Watchers on the Wall, so that we may all live in prosperity, peace, and honor among men.
When the country is in chaos,
everybody has a plan to fix it—
But it takes a leader of real understanding
to straighten things out.(Proverbs 28:2)