29 August 2008

Hope is a thing that floats, gets votes.

I watched Obama's speech tonight at Dain's with Heather and Jill. It somehow heightened the feeling that we were watching something historic to be viewing it in a public place. It might not be remarkable to watch a political speech with the sound cranked up in a bar in Washington. But in Durham, you know something unusual is happening.

I was pleased with the speech, though not blown away. He has set the bar pretty high for himself, so it is sufficient praise to say that I thought his speech fit the occasion and met my expectations well.

I must say, unfortunately, that I was alarmed by the biblical reference he jammed in to the conclusion of the speech:
At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise – that American promise – and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess. Thank you, God Bless you, and God Bless the United States of America.

That's Hebrews 10:23, roughly. In the NRSV, it says "Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful." Now, the object of this sentence is Hope, and Hope is one of the central buzzwords of Obama's campaign.

I hate to admit the possibility, but it kind of sounds like Obama used a line of Scripture and substituted his own campaign platform for the gospel of Jesus Christ as the ultimate good for which we strive. This echoes the egregious error that George W. Bush made on 9/11/02, when he described the U.S.A. by saying that "...the light shines in the darkness. And the darkness has not overcome it." America is not the light in the darkness; Jesus is. And the hope we confess as Christians is not the American promise, but the eschatological promise of the risen Christ.


liz said...

matthew 25 network, anyone?

noeleen said...

go ahead, pastor. I was equally unsettled by the mixed reference, and glad you've put it out there in the universe. I second the motion--though I still can't help liking him.

can't wait to keep reading...