Yesterday, January 12, 2011 after dark, in Arizona, President Barack Obama was anointed. It was Shvat 8, 5771 in the Hebrew Calendar, (as each new day begins at sundown.)
Why do I say he was publicly anointed?
Let us look only at the religious speeches of the evening.
We began with a shamanistic blessing, rightfully asking The Creator for balance and harmony in this time of discord. After announcing his genealogic bona fides, as if his personal ancestry conferred some special connection to our Creator, he blessed the Six Directions typical of Native American spirituality. Other than the blatant fact that he was not Christian, in an overwhelmingly Christian nation, he said nothing theologically offensive. In fact compared to the uses made of actual Scriptural readings, I was less uncomfortable with his blessings of God’s Creations. Notably following the Genesis ordering he blessed the vegetation, the Standing Ones (Trees, Cacti) and grasses. Followed by the creeping crawling creatures, and then the Winged creatures. Then the four-legged (beasts of the field) were blessed, and finally us two legged critters were blessed too. Other than skipping over the swarming creatures of the seas, the fishes each after their kind and the sea monsters of old, he followed the Creation Narrative of The Bible. When I walk through the woods and pray I often begin by praying a similar prayer of gratitude for Creation in that very order and even naming them by their “leggedness”! Being more precise I thank YHVH for the many legged (the creepy crawly centipedes and millipedes), the eight-legged (the spiders and other arachnids), the six-legged (the insects, butterflies, bees), the five legged (the Starfish and other Echinoderms) and the four legged of all the land dwelling vertebrates, including our pets whom we love, and the two legged animals called adam. But I continue and thank God for choosing one particular adam, and naming him Adam and bringing him into a prepared paradisiacal garden in the land of Eden. And then I thank Him for the creation in Eden of woman, Eve. In this manner I simplify the seeming contradictory existence of people in the Land Of Nod to whom Cain went to live. Adam was one individual adam (human) who was specially created and inspired (literally) by YHVH.
Sorry for the digression:
I did so to separate the apparent pagan straw man, from the actual occult anti-scriptural Bible-reading politicians.
Who started the actual anointment? It was former AZ Governor Janet Napolitano, (Big Sis) who is now the gravelly voiced tough Director of Homeland Security. She could have picked from many of the Prophets and Psalms of Consolation. But she picked Isaiah 40 from the New King James Bible. Interestingly she read verses 1-5, skipped 6-25, and finished the chapter from 26-31.
What chilled, was the reading of verses 3-5. :
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “ Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert, a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted. And every mountain and hill brought low. The crooked places shall be made straight. And the rough places smooth; 5 the glory of the LORD shall be revealed. And all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
Any Sunday schooled child would recognize that “Old Testament” prophecy of Isaiah cited in all four The Gospels. For a story to be present in two of the Gospels is typical, in the three (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) also fairly common, but when John also cites it, it must be an important component of the message. And, of course it is! In all four Gospels this prophecy is connected to John The Baptist, cousin of Jesus. His ministry was to prepare the people to expect the Messiah. He created a waiting audience for Jesus to reach. To recite this, in the presence of President Obama who has made many believe he has a messianic complex, and others that he is in fact messianic-like, is breath taking.
Here is Isaiah as cited in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 1:
1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”— 3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water; he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
There is much else to discuss about Ms. Napolitano’s choice of reading, an especially her editing out the midsection of the chapter. Later, perhaps we will look at what she felt needed to be dropped, and ask ourselves “why?” But for now let us continue on the Anointing Of Obama.
Enter the Attorney General (who is currently suing the State of Arizona whose Governor is seated next to him in the front row!). He chose a passage not often preached (as far as I know, not being a Church-goer.) He also picked a Bible edition that has some vitriolic controversy surrounding it! The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition) has been criticized for its “up to date” gender-neutral wording. Others criticize its selection of an English translation for a Hebrew word with more than one potential translation. (See: http://www.faithalone.org/journal/1990ii/Farstad.html)
But again, Holder’s choice of Bible edition and scripture can be gone into in greater depth, but let us stick to the Anointing Service that occurred last night.
He cited 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1 in the Revised Standard Version:
13 But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—‘I believed, and so I spoke’—we also believe, and so we speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. 15Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. 5 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
I watched several times Holder’s preaching, in order to determine what edition he was using. I could not help but notice that about 40 seconds into his reading, when he came to “15Yes, everything is for your sake,” he turned his had toward his left and I would bet dollars to donuts (not that those are very good odds anymore!) he was looking directly at Barack Obama. We recall that this name consists of two words, as others have pointed out. In Aramaic, Barack means “Lightning”, and oobama means “from above”. Of course this has been viral for two years now. In Luke 10:18 Jesus speaking to His disciples says: 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. “ Or, I saw Satan fall like Barack Obama.
“Damien, It is all for you” she said as she leaped to her death in “The Omen”. That is what I heard ringing in my ears when I heard Holder’s sermon!
And then the Consoler-In-Chief made the speech that may have begun the turning of the tide from the One Term Blues to his re-election. Staying only on our Biblical scriptural analysis, the President was brief. Although he went on for 34 minutes, which was longer than Reagan’s speech for the Challenger Crew and Clinton’s for Waco, his scripture was short. And sweet!
Psalm 46:4-5 read from the safely accepted NIV (New International Version).
“4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”
Out of context, standing naked, this Psalm means, what? Is it only referring to Gabby, the Congresswoman nearly fatally wounded in the head by the psychotic killer? That, “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day”?
But weirdly, the Psalm was in his prepared text. But about ten minutes into his speech, he said that shortly after “we had left Gabby”, others in the room said she had opened her eyes for the first time! This was unprepared. It had to have just happened. It does not appear in the pre-released transcript. And this reminds me of Matthew 11.
The Director of Homeland Security cites the very Prophecy that the Gospels apply to John The Baptist, preparing the way for and anointing Messiah. Then the Attorney General turns to him and says “Everything is for your sake” from the Second Letter to the Corinthians. And then Obama announces that shortly after His departure Gabby opened her eyes. Matthew 11:
2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 the blind see and the lame walk.
Beside the spiritual aspects of the Memorial in Tucson there were of course sociologic and political ones. Did anyone notice that not one white male was a part of the tribute? Other than the emcee, there was not one. We had a son of a Mexican-American mother and a refugee from the Mexican genocide waged on the Yaquis Indians. We had, the legally blond Student Leader, the Hispanic aide who brought her coffee at all hours. I believe he was also the humble hero, who staunched the blood of Gabby. The white woman Governor of Arizona spoke. We had the dainty Miss Napolitano followed by the gifted legal mind of Attorney General Holder, and El Presidente himself. I know we cannot notice, but, there were three white females (or perhaps 2.5, who can know with Big Sis?) Two Hispanic men, one black man, and one Kenydonesian- Hawaiian, but not one white male had anything to add, apparently. But we must never notice these things.
Politically, the President said the right things. His performance was right up there in Campaign Mode, for what is a Memorial for, if not for soaring rhetoric? He cut off at the knees those desperately trying to make this shooting The Last Straw for the vitriolic Tea Party and its worship of the Constitution. He indeed disowned the rhetoric, but he has not forgotten the goal. At about 19 minutes in, he claimed that this tragedy must “challenge old assumptions to prevent violence in the future”. I suppose The Constitution and Bill of Rights might be considered by some to be but “Old Assumptions”. I don’t know. But one thing is clear; Mr. Obama is astute enough to see that this drama was not the one to rally the American People into accepting a major step-up in surveillance and control. Perhaps he believes continuing the gradualist approach will work more efficiently. Or, perhaps he knows that he will need a bigger crisis to use than this? But what if? What if Jared Lee Loughner had for some reason or another, a Ron Paul bumper sticker on his car? Or if he was involved with Minutemen on the Mexican Border? Would that slight addition to the story have served for The Last Straw? If so, we are too close to the abyss to relax.
As I began by stating the Hebrew date, I shall turn to the daily readings. The Jewish psalms for the day were numbers 44 through 48, thus making his chosen psalm, one of the four Psalms recited and studied by Jews around the world! Coincidence? I surely do not know! Today, which included last night, the reading from the Torah was the fifth Aliya of Beshalach. This is equivalent to Exodus 15:27-16:10. Let us close on the last verse of the Torah reading for the day of The Memorial in The Desert of Arizona. “10. And it came to pass when Aaron spoke to the entire community of the children of Israel, that they turned toward the desert, and behold! The glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.”
Indeed, did he?