Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Do Justice. Love Mercy. Say Amen!

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou, who has brought us thus far along the way, thou, who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee.  Shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand true to thee, oh God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day.

Rev. Joseph Lowery’s Benediction was the unexpected highlight for me as I watched the inauguration.  And when I thought my tears had run dry, I was proven wrong as I felt the stirrings of my own lost faith come rushing into my heart.

Our faith does not shrink though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

When then President-Elect Obama announced that Rick Warren would be giving the invocation at the inauguration, the blogosphere and news media erupted with the battle over LGBT rights and the meaning behind having Warren, a known bigot, be part of this historic moment.  And in the process of this outrage, Rev. Lowery’s place in this event got pushed to the background.

Rev. Lowery is a stalwart of the Civil Rights Movement.  In 2006, at Coretta Scott King’s funeral, Dr. Lowery received a standing ovation when he remarked before four U.S. Presidents in attendance:

AT THE FUNERAL: We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. But Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor!

This strong man stood before FORMER President George W. Bush and pointed to the blood all over his hands.  Obama did the very same in his inauguration speech.  AMEN.

Unlike Warren, Rev. Lowery is a supporter of LGBT rights.

For we know that, Lord, you are able and you’re willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds, and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor, of the least of these, and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

He supports “civil unions” for gay couples because he sees their struggle against discrimination as one that blacks have endured as well.  And what’s more, he understands that he has “culture shock” when he hears the term “gay marriage”.  Is that offensive to me?  Yes.  Am I glad that he recognizes that it is his personal hang up?  YES.  His recognition is the first step in bringing about real change.  Warren is not even close.  And honestly, the label “marriage” is not important to me, though I understand it to be important to others.

And while we have sown the seeds of greed – the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

Though I could understand the outrage, despite not sharing in it, of having Warren give the invocation, I had faith in Obama to hold true to what he has put forth as President and over his recent political career and beyond.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

Obama did not fail me on January 20, 2008.  Warren’s speech failed on many levels for me, not the least of these pointing out what a hypocrite he is.  But, far more importantly, the stirrings of my faith came when Rev. Lowery took the stage and brought to closure the inauguration of our 44th President, while also setting the stage for the faith that Obama brings as our new President.

And as we leave this mountain top, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever.  Rev. Lowery’s faith is inclusive, representing all of America, including those of us who do not believe.

Having grown up in South Carolina where strong Southern black churches abound, I have been greatly influenced by the power behind preaching.  Listening to Obama at the DNC in 2004 caused tears to stream down my face because he is a talented orator, undoubtedly influenced by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Lowery, and many others whose words easily dance with the soul.

With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

I have faith in MY President, and my heart swells to be able to rejoice in feeling that the President of the United States is mine, a leader to be proud of and support with all that I have to give.  My faith is not the blind, blank check handed over by the broken and battered religious right.  My faith is in those stirring words of Rev. Lowery….

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.


REV. LOWERY: Say Amen!


REV. LOWERY:  and Amen!



  1. Michelle

    Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around … when yellow will be mellow … when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right.

  2. And what great research and links for the ignorant like me.

    I’m a sceptical atheist – but sceptical enough that I doubt my own doubt. And for all that, when I think of MLK, or so many movements for justice and equality through the centuries, I can’t help but think of the positive role religion has played in this – especially the Abrahamic religions. The role of Christianity in social progress, equality and justice can be easily overlooked, from the Jesus who lived with prostitutes and thieves onwards. The role of Judaism in this is immense – so many of my favourite quotations are from recondite Rabbis, especially from the shtetl. And yes, the role of Islam should not be overlooked. They, like the Christian Crusaders and Conquistadors, sometimes converted by the sword. But the incredible spread of Islam can’t just be attributed to violence and terror. No way. Islam also talks of the ways of peace and accommodation. It’s the first protestant democratic religion, as it abjure intermediaries and celebrates the democracy of the Ummah.

    So though I’m not a believer anymore, I appreciate the words of faith, and emotions underneath them. In fact this comprises the undertow of a lot of my work, and I’m about to embark on more episodes about a police chaplain who has lost his belief, but still searches to find it. The first pilot episode of Bad Faith can be found here.

    So thanks for Lowery who, like Niebuhr or Bubel, proves to us that not all faith is bigoted, and that one can find an accordance between believers and unbelievers, in the supremacy of love and forgiveness.  

  3. creamer

      I’ll always be a conflicted christian, unsure of how to deal with all the hate and intolerance that comes from those professing to follow the one they name their religion after.

     I find Reverend Lowery’s words inspiring.

  4. The Rev. Lowery bowled me over and reaffirmed much of what I have always felt as good in the liberal Protestant Methodist Church tradition that I was brought up in as a child, specifically by Ms. Marcia Lindsay and Mrs. Ruth Foster of Brockton, Massachusetts, who were our Sunday school teachers. They taught us kids all of the good stuff of Jesus’ teachings. Mostly we sang songs — the words to which I still remember today. Ms. Lindsay played the autoharp and had a great voice. Sunday school was what got me interested in playing music, because we learned songs and sang them every Sunday.  Rev. Lowery reminds me of that time and the gentleness and hope that Ms. Lindsay and Mrs. Foster imparted to us in the cellar at Pearl Street United Methodist Church, Brockton, Mass.

    Thank you for posting this.

  5. Kysen

    but I have known enough Christians, good and bad, that I both respect the Faith, and am exceedingly wary of it at the same time (though, I guess I could say this about most religious faiths). That being said…Rev. Lowery’s Benediction was one of my favorite segments of teh day. I, quite literally, hung on his every word.

    Thank you for sectioning and explaining his words as you did…especially for weaving them in and around the history of the Civil Rights Movement. I had not heard of Rev. Lowery before. I did not know the source or significance of his opening words. From another diary here on The Moose I learned that his closing words were pulled from an old skip rope rhyme.

    The more I hear of him….the more I see the warp and weft of his words…the more I realize how powerful those words were. How powerful they are.

    Warren’s words will be forgotten.

    They already have been.

    Lowery’s will be remembered and shared by future generations.

    Thanks for the diary.

    Highly Rec’d.


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