January 21, 2009
Inauguration Day, Phase 2
You know things are looking up when a poet is invited to read at the inauguration. Elizabeth Alexander did us all proud.
The cello was, as always, a thing of joy in the hands of Yo-Yo Ma. How do you suppose the trio convinced their fingers to move correctly in weather as cold as D. C. yesterday? (I heard with the wind chill it was 15 degrees F.) The chief justice of the Supreme Court was far less well prepared. If he didn't want the world to watch him reading the oath from a piece of paper, he could have written it on his palm like kids did in high school.
Our new president has the capacity to restore oratory to its former glory. His Inaugural Address was clear and strong and also had a few delicious moments. What do I mean by delicious? "The nation can not prosper long when it favors only the prosperous" -- we are "willing to extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist" -- and "We have tasted the bitter swill" of slavery. The word "swill" in and out itself was worth the price of admission.
I was pleased to see that Joseph Lowery got pride of place on the schedule. I learned when I was pastoring that you always want to go last so you can take a shot at mopping up whatever disasters others of the cloth left behind. it was a great pleasure to hear the echoes of earlier hymns, songs, language, and preachers. I'm all about tanks getting beaten into tractors and justice rolling down like water.
And wasn't the First Lady's dress for the Inauguration fabulous? Do you think she was freezing to death? And what was with the chiffon bow? Did it hold her coat closed or her sweater? And if it kept her sweater in place, then what kept the bodice of her coat from flying open in the wind? And what about her gown for the inaugural balls? I'd never seen anyone in a one-shouldered dress I thought was attractive until last night. She looked casually elegant, a great look indeed. I watched them dance at 5 balls; I'd have watched the other 5, too, if only I could have kept my eyes open.
The mention of the U. S. Constitution in the inaugural address gave me great comfort. A new day, indeed, with a president who understands the words "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" and who will treat us like citizens rather than consumers. You could hears sighs of relief going up all over the country yesterday.