One of the lost gifts Obama has returned to us is the transformative power of words. With absolute assurance I know that I have not been the only local person moved to tears in recent days by his words, and indeed by the gracious words of John McCain as he rediscovered his true self by the end.
I’ve never met the guy, know really very little about him, but Obama’s words have moved me in the direction of my better instincts, and made me believe that an alternative is possible to the quotidian reality of a Bush presidency. And that is an amazing thing.
These have been two great political speechs. Actually, two great speeches.
I hope that many a preacher who has grown tired, or cynical, or has come to doubt the power of his or her Sunday by Sunday activity will be inspired by these spoken words. Reinvigorated by the truth that words can change people. Words can alter the tone of a nation and even a world.
And maybe we’ll learn in our fluffy, airy congregational gatherings that words spoken carefully and thoughtfully are critical to our formation. How I long for the people of the Word to be just that. People who are mindful of our words, who measure them carefully rather than scattering them thoughtlessly all around us, in the vain hope that someone might catch a few.
Still though much hard work remains to be done for the new man. The aspiration and hope in his words have been incarnated now in his presidency and the words must be matched by deeds. And for that Obama’s words should be examined and parsed and exegeted for their content. But for the moment I want to bask in the rhythms and cadences of his fine words.
Many over here are cynical about speechmaking. It sometimes appears we are less prone to being moved by rhetoric; perhaps it’s because we have so few, if any, true rhetoricians. And those that we have had have employed their skills in a polemical direction rather than for something more enduringly positive. Nevertheless, I fear poor Gordon Brown will suffer by comparison. And David Cameron’s political future may hang on the success or failure of the next 18 months of Obama’s reign. And as for Peter Robinson, Martin McGuinness or Biffo Cowan….God help us!
Anyway, I’m loving this. And for absolutely the finest opinion piece yet on the events of recent days, look no further than Fintan O Toole in today’s Irish Times. Magnificent analysis and wonderful writing.