Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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A "Black Friday" Reflection on Two Thanksgiving Messages

Couldn’t help but notice a big difference between our president’s Thanksgiving message and our president-elect’s Thanksgiving message. There is no mistaking to Whom President Bush expresses gratitude for "all that we have been given, the freedoms we enjoy, and the loved ones who enrich our lives." They come "not from the hand of man but from Almighty God." Unclear what to make of Obama’s recurring de-emphasis upon God and Providence. I recall Obama’s Victory speech, where he bowdlerizes Martin Luther King’s "arc of the moral universe" quote, turning a clear reference to God’s moral ordering of the universe into a praise of human beings bending that arc themselves!

To be sure, a belief in a personal God who takes interest in His creation should not lead folks to sit on their hands and trust the Creator to do everything for them: this disrespects God’s will that those made in His image put head, heart, and hand to the work to which He calls them. Nevertheless, Obama’s reticence to ask humbly for God’s blessing upon the United States, coupled with his call for unity by Americans to "make a new beginning for our nation," suggests that he believes that what makes America great is that individuals can do whatever they put their minds to, and not so much that what they put their minds to should be informed by the fixed and eternal truths discerned in the created order. The fact that our president-elect chose to make no reference to God whatsoever, while placing himself squarely in the middle of a Thanksgiving Address (to wit, "why I’m committed to forging a new beginning from the moment I take office"), is strikingly at odds with an address that traditionally highlights our national humility before our Maker.

It’s this latter approach to celebrating Thanksgiving that has always struck me as a fitting complement to our July 4th celebration of the nation’s Independence Day. By celebrating our independence from England (July 4th) and dependence upon God (Thanksgiving Day), whose aid our greatest statesmen have always solicited and acknowledged, Americans call to mind great truths of human existence that can keep us on the straight and narrow path as a self-governing people. May God bless President-elect Obama with a better understanding of Lincoln’s greatness, a deeper insight into the principles of the American regime, and a more profound sense of the glory of the great Father of us all. For these things, may we all be truly grateful.

Discussions - 11 Comments

I can't help also noticing the chutzpah of sending a pseudo-presidential pseudo-proclamation message.

Doesn't chutzpah mean "audacity"?

Amen, Lucas.

I hope God supernaturally and in a personal way brings Obama to that gracious understanding. I am hearing of pastors praying from the pulpit that America be brought to its knees. The end seems all well and good, but I pray mercy in the means.

Nice post Lucas. We have seen Obama go from a faith based Democratic candidate (especially in South Carolina) to one who now does not attend church, and who seems to find salvation in the Will of man. This pseudo proclamation is interesting and perhaps revealing that he is not so Faith based after all.

Kate: I have always found it troubling when preachers desire God to bring America low. Perhaps He will do that, but wouldn't it be better if there was repentance? What kind of pastors are these that would proclaim such from the pulpit?

Erik, I may have to steal that phrase, "salvation in the Will of man." Well put. Obama showcases his secular side more prominently than his Christian one. I need to take another look at his speech on faith and politics from earlier this year (or was it 2007?), which on a quick read struck me as quite sensible. Maybe Joe to the K can clear this up for us. . . Yes, chutzpah, and flat-out disrespect and bad form to butt in as "president-elect" before he has been constitutionally installed in the office. Time will tell if the Democratic Party or even the U.S. Constitution will keep Obama in check.

Very fine catch, Lucas. I am always astounded by the way presidential proclamations end: "IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third." It is a reminder that there is Christian time and American time, and the two belong together.

With Obama, we get HIS time, a secular age of civil religion.

Obama appeared at one time to be a faith-based Democrat. But he has become a secularist like so many of his liberal illuminati cohorts and leads me to believe he is not faith-based at all. Obama has forgotten that our dependence is on God. He shows his secular side more often than his supposed "Christian" side.

Parsing God references in presidential messages. I knew someone once who practiced numerology on government IRS memos. Let the evangelical hand-wringing begin!

It WOULD be silly, even more silly than "Office of the President-elect" silliness, for Obama to deliver a Thanksgiving message comparable to the president's. But I don't think he was doing that. He was trying to build national confidence in perilous times, confidence and shared gratitude in a much more mundane sense than the president's. On Friday the stock indices went up again.

So what if the guy wants to be a secular humanist. The fact that he, and many others, pay only lip service to faith just speaks to the dumbed down state of the populace. They want someone who goes to church, but they don't really care beyond that. As for the Upstaging of messages, who cares, empty rhetoric from both sides. What they should talk about is the amount of Fatalities at Walmart on black friday. This country really needs to reevaluate its mores considering annual gift exchange day. I guess that it should not shock us, I mean what is the difference between biting someone to get the last Wii at the once a year sale price and the executives rats who dessert their companys rich and happy while the workers get nothing.

The first thing that stands out is that Obama never mentions God.

Even the skeptic Lincoln immediately acknowledges God: "...we are prone to forget the source from which they come...the ever watchful providence of Almighty God."

Yet the professed Christian Obama never does. He says we should give thanks, but cannot bring himself to name the recipient of those thanks.

This matters because, spiritually, we cannot renew this country without giving thanks to God and being obedient. Obama seems to think that through simple human unity we can be renewed. This is the same tack he took in his famous "Jericho" speech, drawing from the Biblical story the lesson of human unity rather than obedience to God.

I don't expect a president to be our National Preacher. But I do expect a professing Christian who has freely sought leadership and who arrogantly fancies himself as a new Lincoln to at least act like a Lincolnian leader and thank God aloud on Thanksgiving.

We are not "the change we've been waiting for" nor are we the Thanksgiving Thanks Receiver we've been waiting for. We're not God and Obama's not Lincoln. And Thank God for it.

Erik, that was exactly how I saw it. I expect they are human preachers.

Steve Thomas, who are we thanking on Thanksgiving? My friends with children in public schools, tell me that students are being told that the Pilgrims had the first celebration to thank the Indians. Maybe it is wrong of Christians to take such things personally. After all, in such things like that and Obama's speech, it is not our belief being denigrated or ignored; it's just our God.

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