"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." -- First Corinthians 13:11.
"We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things." -- U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama.
I love good sermons. I appreciate good sermons as high social art. Solo spoken oration is dying out. It still exists in its best sense as a sermon. When you give a sermon you're casting your fate to the wind. There's no middle ground. You either hit the bulls-eye or flail around hoping someone puts you out of your misery. As does the congregation. Giving a sermon takes cojones. It is not for the meek or the easily slighted. Most sermons suck.
[Crossposted from The Motley Moose.]
The cadence and pauses and diminuendo and crescendo and largo and rubato of a good sermon are as well defined as any orchestral score. The spoken voice has definite pitch; and good sermons have a pitched melody that you can score. They have rests and whole notes and dotted eighths and triplets. The spoken human voice is more like a pitched drum than an oboe. It is mostly percussion with a dash of pitch. It's all about timing and negative space. A good sermon is alive with alliteration. Praise the Angles, Saxons and Jutes from whom the English language obtained the alliterative. Beowulf the change you believe in.
Lots of folks were hoping Barack would give us an ethereal balls to the walls Wagnerian Robesonian whoop de doop Sermon on the Mall.
But M.C. Hussein did us all one better and for the better-- he played against expectation, caught us by surprise and in doing so, pulled off a true and real performance win.
Obama started out with a somewhat clunky, warty and unpolished tone, as if to say: "All this pomp and Aretha's propellor are the shizzle, no question, but have you all checked to see how fucked this jackass over here has left us?"
Obama refused to give the crowd what it wanted -- the soaring, sky high, Blue Angels, majestic ObamaVision version of "Secular Humanist Mission Accomplished" -- because as he said in quoting First Corinthians -- it is time to put away such childish things. No analog to codpiece. No flight jacket. No aircraft carrier. No insipid self-unaware Alfred E. Neuman spewing smirk and false sincerity over acres of dead and maimed and crippled human bodies. No string section, fake or real. No applause lines. No shit.
No. Obama hid his Solomonic sermonic virtuosity under a bushel and gave the assembled 2 billion parishioners a dry and hard dose of Olde Time Calvinism that would make Increase Mather, William Bradford and Daniel Gookins proud of the big-eared kid from the big-shouldered city along the lake the Ojibwa call Michigan:
"What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath."
Pass the ice cold shower, hard tack and hair shirts !!!
Pennsylvania Ave. pain sticks at Zero Dark Thirty !!!
Your Toughness Groove Awaits !!!
This ain't no Country Club Presleydency.
This train is bound for glory.