I watched Obama’s eulogy for Clementa Pinckney yesterday.
I absolutely despised the talk of “faith in that which cannot be seen”, and I detest the lyrics of “Amazing Grace” — that idea that we’re all wretches in need of saving is part of Christianity’s poisonous power.
But still…that was an amazing and inspiring speech. As a black president, in a black church, who was acknowledging the importance of the black church in black history, and who was delivering a eulogy for a black minister, it was appropriate and beautiful — this was a man proudly embracing the deep history of a people, and giving the best eulogy I’ve ever heard. He not only addressed the personal, but also covering the issues of Pinckney’s activist causes. While the window dressing may jar to this atheist, those causes are shared, and the substance of the speech was moving (even to me!) and important.
He may have been a bit off-key, but I was also impressed that he was moved to express himself with a traditional song, and I envy him the ability to open up like that — with the eyes of the entire world on him.
On top of all the court successes this week, this was a remarkable expression of Obama’s identity and goals. I’d vote for him again, despite the many disappointments of his presidency. This is the week that may mark Obama as one of our great presidents (noting that the events of this week were actually a culmination of many years of struggle.) I’m hoping it also marks a turning point in the history of the US.
Or not. To end on a dismal note, six black churches in the South were set on fire last night. That’s also part of an American tradition of terror.