So we had a joyous inauguration, although the obligatory religious bookends were a bit hard to take. The Invocation by Pastor Rick (Warren) was a real piece of work, typically self-righteous and obnoxiously exclusionary. It goes without saying he alienated atheists, but then he went on to do the same for non-Christians (invoking Jesus as his Lord and Saviour) and then Catholics (by reciting the Protestant version of the Our Father). Obama, at least, had the courtesy to include non-believers in a short list of religious affiliations. I agree with PZ that it was a small thing, but appreciated. The Benediction by an 87 year old Reverend Joseph Lowery was harmless enough. It’s what everyone expects. The Warren piece was not.
The religious theme continued into Obama’s first full day in office, starting with a superfluous prayer breakfast, leading to an appropriate segue to his first real order of business, trying to clean up the Middle East mess. You’d think with all that praying this would be a slam dunk (in George Tenet’s words), but I guess it doesn’t work that way:
A female CNN journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time.
So she went to check it out. She went to the Western Wall and there he was, walking slowly up to the holy site.
She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave, using a cane and moving very slowly, she approached him for an interview.
“Pardon me, sir, I’m Rebecca Smith from CNN. What’s your name?”
“Morris Fishbien,” he replied.
“Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?”
“For about 60 years.”
“60 years! That’s amazing! What do you pray for?”
“I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims. I pray for all the wars and all the hatred to stop.
I pray for all our children to grow up safely as responsible adults, and to love their fellow man.”
“How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?”
“Like I’m talking to a fuckin’ wall.