21 January, 2009

A Benediction Even an Atheist Can Love

I didn't mean to listen to the religious pablum at Obama's inauguration, but with it splattered across Pharyngula, Crooks and Liars, and Digby's Hullaballoo, it was just a wee bit hard to miss. Perils of living in a religious country and all.

Rick Warren's blabbing reminded me of everything I can't stand about evangelical Christianity. All glory to God, can't do it without God, forgive us when we try to take a smidgeon of credit from you God, blah blah blah. When I hear these types of Christians pulling the "we're not worthy" shit, I always wonder just what kind of father they think their God is. My father would give me a good, sharp smack upside the head if I started abasing myself to him. And he'd be frankly horrified at the idea that I was helpless without him.

His invocation wasn't as noxious as it could have been, but it was still self-righteous exclusionary bullshit, and if you think it does no harm, then you need to read this. It's inexcusable.

I'm under no pressure to cheer on god-bothering schmucks or face the wrath of a person who could destroy my career, so I sniggered at Warren's ridiculous yammering, and chuckled watching a calvacade of supposedly mature people going on and on about a figment of the imagination. I'm sorry if that's too harsh for the few of you in this audience who are religious, but that's just unvarnished truth: that stuff makes me laugh.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I found myself watching the Reverend Joseph Lowery's benediction, and shouting "Amen!" at the end.

The thing is, Rev. Lowery gave a benediction even a jaded old atheist can love:
We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.
Amen. Most decidedly, amen.

You know why I love this benediction? It's because it's got a sense of humor, for one thing. The man knows how to laugh, and isn't afraid God will strike him dead for making a joyful noise.

But mostly it's because it's such a celebration of the human spirit and human ability. He's not asking God to do all the work. He trusts that God has given people everything they need to get the job done themselves. A little help would be wonderful, but we can get it done.

He gave me the feeling that even us godless heathens have a part in this, because it's people who are doing the hard work, people who will beat tanks into tractors (how I love that new spin on an old metaphor!), people who walk together and pledge not to get weary. He didn't ask all Christians who do justice and love mercy to say amen, he extended that invitation to us all.

If he wants to ask God to lend a hand, I won't quibble. I won't even laugh. I'll just sit here with a big, beaming grin and shout "Amen!"

1 comment:

Efrique said...

I must confess I gave a wry smile at Lowery's words. For Rush Limbaugh and some of the other cons to be referring to those wrods as racism - that just makes my head explode.