It feels like we’ve got our country back. I’m not talking about just Democrats, but all Americans. The last wicked four years felt like a nightmare to millions. May such evil never happen again. Many thoughts are vying for attention in my head with the end of the Trump era. We now have only our second Catholic president, following a heathen one (I fear this may insult heathens, my apologies if it does). We have finally, after far too many years, have a female vice-president, having been robbed of our first female president by the electoral college four years ago. Like many Americans, I came away from the inauguration yesterday with the feeling of relief that a person with human sympathies, who doesn’t pathologically rely on lies, is in the White House again. Listening to the oath of office I wonder how 45’s hand didn’t burn off on the Bible four years ago.
The inauguration is, of course, a ceremony of civil religion. The family Bible upon which President Biden (how right that feels!) placed his hand is an American institution. Quite often families have had a particular Bible in which to keep family records and important data (in the days before the internet collected all that). Not only that, but Biden was actually able to quote the Bible, and not from one of those verses everyone knows from overuse. What a difference from the cynical, lackadaisical holding up of an unread Bible after teargassing non-violent protestors for a photo-op. No matter what his detractors may say, Joe Biden actually is a Christian, something that cannot be said of the former incumbent by any meaningful use of the word.
On the night of January 19, Biden began the new administration with a moving candlelight vigil for the 400,000+ Americans who’ve died from Covid-19. Until that moment, the White House did not care about them at all. The program included a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s iconic “Hallelujah.” Interestingly Cohen’s ambiguous line was altered to “I know there’s a God above,” for Americans of a certain stripe need that kind of reassurance. Compassion. This is one of the central messages the Bible offers. We should care for and love one another. It has been four years since Americans have heard that message. The evil times through which we’ve suffered are not gone for good, but never has an inauguration been so sorely needed by a country that likes to think itself chosen. At least we have our country back, no matter party or creed, and that is worth celebrating.