Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama and the spirit of Abraham Lincoln

In terms of global viewing figures, the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America is likely to approach those for the funeral of the Princess of Wales. It has been hyped, spun, designed, stage-managed and cultured to perfection. Barack Obama became an icon without pausing for his image to be captured. He is cherished, worshipped and adored like the most sacred of devotional objects. The expectations of fulfilment are colossal, so much so that Isaiah’s messianic prophecies reverberate around the world:
Today the Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.

But as the world’s media is focused on the eternal hopes and Olympian aspirations of the man, Cranmer wishes to highlight on two aspects of this event – the spectre of Abraham Lincoln and the ceremonial use of the Holy Bible.

The significance easily escapes a nation which has ceased to express its historic faith – indeed, has developed a culture which is positively hostile to Christianity and makes its adherents ashamed to express their faith in the public sphere. British prime ministers no longer ‘do God’. The Head of State was ‘sworn in’ on the Holy Bible in an age when oaths were taken on pain of divine or preternatural wrath, and people believed in them. Her successor wishes to be ‘sworn in’ on the Bible, the Torah, the Qur’an, the Gita, the Upanishads and the Beano. The magic has gone.

But Barack Obama has chosen to be sworn in on the Holy Bible, and he will invoke God. He is not obliged to do either; he has chosen to. And (unlike Bishop Gene Robinson) he apparently does not care about those he may offend by doing so.

It is heartening to see politicians fearlessly treading where clerics have ceased to.

The US Constitution does not require a Bible, but it has become tradition.

There have been a few lawsuits attempting to oblige the Chief Justice – who will administer the Oath of Office– from adding ‘so help me God’ to the constitutionally prescribed presidential oath (Art. II, Sec. 1). They have also sought to declare unconstitutional the use of clergy to deliver an invocation and benediction.

But all this is trivia and tittle-tattle.

Barack Obama is not being sworn in on just any old Bible, like most of his predecessors. He is to use the very tome used by Abraham Lincoln at his inauguration of 1861. He will be the first incoming president in 147 years to use the Lincoln Bible, and he has chosen to do so because he intends pursuing Lincoln’s themes of national unity, arguing that the US Constitution was created ‘to form a more perfect Union’.

Bizarrely, Mr Obama will travel to his inauguration via the same route that Lincoln took, and will also eat lunch off replicas of the Lincolns' White House china.

The spirit of Lincoln will be as immanent as the Spirit of God.

Most presidents have sworn the Oath of Office upon a Bible which had personal or political significance – usually the family Bible. Theodore Roosevelt exceptionally swore on nothing, and John Quincy Adams, although a Christian, took his presidential oath upon a "Volume of Laws", declaring that he was elected to preserve, protect and defend the US Constitution.

Adams’ choice of ‘unholy’ writ was unique, since those who were not sworn in on the Bible (however hastily) all laid their hands on something which they considered ‘holy’. Lyndon B. Johnson took his oath aboard Air Force 1 upon a Missal – the Roman Catholic liturgical book – because it was all that was found in President Kennedy’s airplane bedroom.

Harding was sworn in on the Bible used by George Washington in 1789. Eisenhower, Carter and Bush Snr all doubled up, using the Washington Bible along with their family bibles. Clinton used his grandmother’s Bible, and Coolidge, Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan all used bibles from the maternal sides of their families.

The Bible has now become intrinsic to the inauguration ceremony, so much so that more questions would be asked about a presidential candidate who purposely eschewed it than would ever be asked of a candidate who deploys it. History still notes that Franklin Pierce broke with precedent in 1853 when he chose not to kiss the Bible.

As Barack Obama is sworn in, the world shall witness a ceremony which has evolved its own sacred liturgy. It has been adapted over the years just as the Coronation Ceremony of the United Kingdom has been - to better suit the spirit of age and the idiosyncracies of the anointed one. The irony is that in the UK there are calls for the sacred Christian ceremony and anointing to be replaced with a more ‘modern’ secular or ‘multi-faith’ affair, while in the United States the Bible has become more prominent and the God invoked is distinctly and unashamedly the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Cranmer wishes President Obama well, and he encourages all of his readers and communicants to pray for him as they are exhorted:

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle — I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying — a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth (1Tim 2: 1-7).


Anonymous Rob Farrington said...

I wish him well too, although my fiance voted for McCain and I would have done as well, if I'd been a US citizen.

I'm going to be staying well away from the news for a couple of days though, for pretty much the same reason that I don't take a dozen sugars in my coffee.

He wasn't born in a stable, he's not a refugee from the planet Krypton, he's a human being with human failings.

I like his self-deprecating sense of humour, but just being telegenic and being able to take the piss out of yourself does not a good leader make. I don't think he's up to the job, but I wouldn't mind one bit if I was proved wrong. In fact, I hope that I am.

20 January 2009 at 08:06  
Blogger Jomo said...

"he intends pursuing Lincoln’s themes of national unity, arguing that the US Constitution was created ‘to form a more perfect Union’."

Don't want to be a wet blanket and spoil the party, but wasn't the pursuit of a more perfect union followed by civil war and assasination

20 January 2009 at 08:22  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Future historical words:

"remember Barack Obama?"

20 January 2009 at 10:46  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

Just trying to keep whitey sweet while he empties thier pockets for his masters,since he rejects his kenyan roots,why does he use the name obama?or does he call himself sotero this week?he seems to pick a religion like a suit off the peg,while his muslim cousin is murdering anything that is not muslim in kenya,he professes Christianity,the negro version that is,just like his hero the communist fraud mlk ,whos fbi file has had to be locked away for fifty years because he was such a paragon of virtue.where is a redneck when you need one?

20 January 2009 at 11:04  
Blogger Cato said...

I can't wait to see him walk on water. It must be sometime soon!

20 January 2009 at 11:45  
Blogger The last cause said...

The problem with his "national unity" theme is...the Democratic Party, Obama's Political Party, already controls everything in Washington DC.

They have all the unity they need.

Obama does seem a decent enough fellow, and I do wish him well, though politically on things like Abortion and Gay Marriage, he is the polar opposite of most Americans.

20 January 2009 at 12:39  
Blogger Dave H said...

With so many redneck enemies I'm surprised Obama chooses to identify himself so closely with Lincoln. Sic semper tyrannis?

20 January 2009 at 12:45  
Blogger Bryan said...

Thank you, Your Grace, that was a worthy post, and I am a better person for having read it.

President Obama and his staff are pulling out all the stops in their use of symbolism. The only thing that bothers me, is how his stated aims and goals square with his "symbolic" beliefs.

Whether President Obama is raised up to be "Moses" leading the people into the promised land, or "Pharaoh" leading his country into ruin, is in God's hands.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. Proverbs 21:1

20 January 2009 at 13:28  
Blogger The Heresiarch said...

I loved this from Ruth Gledhill (quoting a new book).

"Barack Obama believes that God can speak through people at different times.' So at one point, as he has said himself, God speaks to him through a lesbian and at another, through a pro-life doctor."

20 January 2009 at 13:32  
Blogger Microcosm said...


Christ only worked miracles Obama has to do the impossible!

20 January 2009 at 15:23  
Blogger Wrinkled Weasel said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

20 January 2009 at 15:25  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

It's idolatrous, one Bible's as good as any other yes?

Leviticus 18:22 ?

No of course not. Obama is, at best, pseudo Christian.

Obama may indeed be a lot like Lincoln. Especially when it is considered that the "Civil War" had nothing to do with slavery, but the right of the Union to rule over member states.

And in that light there is a possibility that Obama is going to take a major step towards merging the American Government with a Global Government that shall override Nations right to rule themselves. This will be justified on an "anti-racist" basis. Economic leverage shall be applied through the Carbon Credits/Global Warming paradigm.

Keep on an eye on the "Missile Shield" plan in Eastern Europe. Neutralising Russia's nuclear deterrent would be probably the most aggressive and dangerous act in Geopolitics since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

20 January 2009 at 15:38  
Anonymous an ex-apprentice said...

Your Grace delivers his usual thought-provoking and unique perspective on the Coronation.


A message and rallying cry simultaneously idiotically simplistic and yet brilliant in its calculated attraction.
Who, from whatever political or social divide, could answer "NO" to the question: "Do you want something, anything at all, to change?"
The message is all inclusive, each respondent reading from their own script, their own particular pet grouse, their own personal agenda.
And all without the new Messiah having to promise anything other than the vague aspiration of "CHANGE".
The mountain of expectation this new President has accumulated is much, much larger than any I can recall seeing. In large part that is due to his own efforts. I too pray he does well, but I fear the only thing that can today be absolutely guaranteed is disappointment.
I can only think that when Mr Obama places his hand on that Bible, his must be a quite terrifying weight of responsibility.

20 January 2009 at 15:54  
Anonymous bugs bunny said...

John Carroll, Archbishop of Baltimore, 1791

We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name. We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope N., the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, N., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation. We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty. We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state , for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability. We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal. Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen.

20 January 2009 at 16:02  
Blogger coonass said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

20 January 2009 at 19:15  
Blogger coonass said...

Barack Hussein Obama skated into the White House on lies and voter fraud. He has claimed credit for many sociopolitical achievements whether or not he could have physically have taken part in it (I have a recording of an Obama television campaign ad in which he said that he "reached out" to Nunn and Lugar to organize cooperative nuclear threat reduction with Russia, an odd achievement for someone who hadn't even been elected to the Illinois State Senate at the time).

Barack Obama is a pathological liar and a man with a very bad temper when he is criticized - a temper that came out during his campaign in the form of threats of legal action, including criminal charges, against broadcast station managers who dared air advertisements critical of Obama.

I think Nixon will be a much more apt metaphor for an Obama administration than Lincoln. Character is fate.

20 January 2009 at 19:26  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I thought the Junior Senator was from Illinois and Abraham Lincoln was from Illinois. I thought Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer and the Junior Senator from Illinois is a a lawyer. I hope Obama avoids actors with English antecedents

20 January 2009 at 20:47  
Blogger Dr.D said...

We may all hope that he goes to the theater very soon.

20 January 2009 at 21:34  
Anonymous Adrian P said...

There is another way of looking at this Link to Lincoln, Lincoln was killed by the Bankers because he dared to print his own money ( Just like kennedy did with his executive order 1110 )
Remember that it was the Bankers that put obama in Place.
Who won the US election, Barak Obama, think again, it was won by Rockefeller and Murdoch
Obama is a Puppet, placed there by the International Bankers, who are the real Govt in the West.

Not that Mcain would have been any better, 'they' always back both runners.



What is this non specific 'Change' he keeps talking about, has anybody bothered to ask him.
Who Knows, but it's obviously not this :-

Remember, Obama voted for the Bailout of the Bankers, so who does he work for, my guess then is more fot the same
War, Debt, disease and Misery, hopefully people wil wake up then, but it may be too late.

Alternative Radio on the Innauguration at :-


20 January 2009 at 21:57  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Judges 5-12 .....Arise Barak and lead your captives away...

21 January 2009 at 00:00  
Blogger Fred Preuss said...

"Ashamed of its faith"? Did you count the number of Reverends at this event? It was ridiculous! I thought we disestablished religion in 1787.

21 January 2009 at 05:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob Farrington said...

I wish him well too, although my fiance voted

I thought only "fiancee" was legal for a man like you in the US Mr Farrington....only Europe and Canada swing the other way

21 January 2009 at 07:02  
Anonymous Either the Bilderbergers are worried said...

OR I am wrong about them

21 January 2009 at 13:27  
Anonymous insurance broker said...

I wish him the best, definitely. He is maybe the first president of the USA who has chance to become "president of the world" naturally and with respect. But we don't know Obama enough and he will have a very hard task not to disappoint people who are looking at him. But definitely, he has a great number of fans here in Canada...
Take care

21 January 2009 at 21:56  
Blogger coonass said...

Lorne said "But definitely, he has a great number of fans here in Canada... "

And you're welcome to take him off of our hands... :-)

22 January 2009 at 04:52  
Blogger EUBanana said...

I didn't know that tidbit about Teddy Roosevelt.

My respect for the man has gone up!

22 January 2009 at 12:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“The spirit of Lincoln will be as immanent as the Spirit of God.”

Respectfully, Your Grace, is there truly too little potential good in a self-conscious identification with President Lincoln? I also wince at the excess and stagecraft, which is such a spectacle and potential obstacle to the public perception of goodness. But a determined if overly deliberate identification with President Lincoln by a new, young and modestly experienced president, who himself is a product of the “floating world” as the Japanese recognize it, may yet display a good instinct, even if it exposes the need behind the instinct to numerous shrewd enemies which President Obama and his country have. Is there no redemption for such national naivetes? Let us pray that whatever is arch and cynical in the identification quickly evaporates in the noon sun of presidential office.

Let us hope and pray also that the new, young, modestly experienced, yet nimble, President quickly realizes what President Lincoln realized. As evidenced in Lincoln’s second inaugural address, among others, it seems clear that the Spirit of God sustained and guided him through the gravest threat to the Union. If so, the new, young, modestly experienced, yet nimble President, may cease to confuse the Spirit of Lincoln with the Spirit of God. He undoubtedly knows that Mrs., not Mr. Lincoln, channeled her grief to seances and the death grip that emotional course had on her.

Let us pray that President Obama realizes that there are many forms of slavery to which humankind is heir, and that he remembers the Spirit of President Lincoln, thusly:

“The Almighty has His own purposes. ‘Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.’ If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’"

Seen Too Much

22 January 2009 at 17:55  
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24 January 2009 at 03:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama, Abe he a`int

31 January 2009 at 17:00  

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