Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Idol Worship

I heard last year as the young new presidential hopeful took the stage to accept the Democratic National Convention's endorsement of him as their candidate that he was like a "rock star." This of course was immediately used by other candidates to imply that he was in some way evil, encouraging followers to worship him; or if not evil, then greatly misleading people who were too gullible to know better. It seems that if you are too popular, then that is in some way bad. We must all maintain a certain amount of decorum; this is after all politics we are talking about.

I thought that it was grossly unfair that simply being popular would be viewed in such a way. Of course, this young candidate carried a Blackberry, sent email to encourage support, had a facebook group that many people were "fans" of (simply because this is a facebook term), and spoke to a generation of people in ways previous candidates had not. I thought at that time, that it was "sour grapes" from a group of people who would never dream of twittering their thoughts, would never consider keeping up with friends on facebook, and only use email if they absolutely have to, in other words, people who are out of touch with the technology and advances that are so prevalent in the world today and do not listen to the voice of the generations who rarely use “snail mail” for personal correspondence, pays bills online, and social networking groups are common. I realize now this is unfair. There are those who are not tech-savvy that do not see Obama's support to be inherently idol worship, and those who are tech-savvy who do.

I again have read a concern that the exuberance of the crowds yesterday was in some way another demonstration of "worshipping" Obama. I am concerned that there are those who might actually feel something akin to worship for Obama, but I am more concerned by those who would convey that attitude where it may not be deserved. I am surprised by the thought that Obama is in some way worshipped...any more than any other president of the United States has ever been. I remember people staunchly defending President G. W. Bush for his decisions and claiming that he was all but sent by God (some actually have claimed this). I have seen the videos, news reports, etc., that depict a nation in deep grief, as deep as a family member, over the assassination of JFK. These are but two examples (one for each party) of deep patriotism and love for a President. Love, not worship.

I don't know if I would consider Obama to be worshipped. I don't think what we saw yesterday was necessarily worship; I saw it more as an exercise of hope. For some he is a symbol of the hopes and dreams of many that those of their race lived and died to fight for. I can't fault them for that one. For others he is a symbol of a new day dawning on America, and all the hope that goes with that; hope that the economy will get better; hope that no more children and parents, brothers and sisters, friends and relatives will have to be sent overseas to fight a war that many in this country never backed, and many more are beginning to question; and for still others he represents hope that we can become more of the middle than the right or the left. All of these hopes, and I am sure others, were represented on that mall yesterday. You can't blame these people for rejoicing in their hopes, and it would be falsely accusing them of idol worship to say they were worshipping Obama. I know for many, their hope is in the Lord and see this change in leadership as an answer to as fervent a prayer as many prayed in the other direction.

It seems to me that Obama has encouraged and challenged all of us to work together, and I believe “all” to include the right, the left, and the middle. I know I am willing to work to be in conversation with others. I hope more feel like me.

I also read that we need to pray. But of course we do! The election of a young, black, Democratic president should not be any greater prompting of this need than simply looking in our own mirrors. We should humble ourselves before God and our neighbor, beg forgiveness for our prejudices and seek to live in peace with one another. I hope you will pray for this with me.

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