Friday, August 06, 2010

Worshiping Men rather than God

From the Archives of my old blog. This one goes back to President Obama's inauguration.

January 30, 2009

Joseph Lowry, Racism and Blindness

I was saddened by the blindness related to Rev. Lowry's benediction at the close of the inauguration of President Obama. Dr. Lowry has been taken to task by some on the right for what was perceived to be racist comments in his closing benedictionary prayer. Pastor Lowry, (I think he is a pastor), prayed something to the effect that he was looking forward to a country where, "a black man didn't have to step back man, and a red man could get ahead man, where the yellow would be mellow and the white man would get it right man."

The first grouping was seen as positive toward African-Americans and American Indians, while the latter two were taken as inappropriately negative and racial in tone toward Asian and Caucasians.

Honestly, on this issue, I give Dr. Lowry a lot of grace. He is a man who saw the Jim Crow south and was in the middle of the struggle for civil rights for African-Americans from the very beginning. He saw the hero of that movement gunned down and I have no problem giving him lots of latitude on his worldview. The fact that he has a hard time dropping the perspective he had in the 1960's and that has probably been obsolete for two decades is not a big deal to me.

But what caught my ire? no, my disappointment was the seeming blindness of all the commentators, right and left, on the spiritual issues involved in his choice of words. Benedictions are of two types generally. They are spoken over a people as a blessing or they are addressed as prayer to God at the end of a religious service or ceremony.

My disappoint was that Dr. Lowry chose the later form, an address to God, and yet the words were chosen for the titters and chuckles of the audience. It was political commentary as prayer. It was prayer as entertainment. And for that reason, it wasn't prayer.

Where was the sense of majesty and awe before a holy God invoking His grace and strengthening for the new President as he takes on the formidable challenges at the inauguration of his administration?

Was he talking to God or was he talking to the microphones attuned to his voice?
Was he seeking the blessing of heaven or the applause of the people?
Was he seeking to give closure on the momentus events of the day or
was he seeking to be clever and memorable?

Only God and Joseph Lowry may know the answer to these questions. But the impression I had, and perhaps that’s all it is, an impression, was that the benediction offered was delivered with a greater desire to please the masses than to please God Almighty.

If that's true, then it was a performance in using God and worshiping men. I want more from my religious leaders than that. But no one commented on what I sensed.

Maybe I'm the one that's blind!

No comments: