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Again, comments from friends that “I must have been moved by Obama’s speech.” Well, no. Not really. 

Apart from generic expressions of hope for the future, with about as much depth of thought as a placard I saw someone carrying that said “Our Future Starts Now,” there was nothing in the speech to suggest a well thought out programme for making the world, or even the US a better place. It was like listening to a series of readings from Helen Steiner Rice greeting cards.

But the crowd and media reaction! Pretty much like the response of the congregation in the last verse of this delightful poem by SJ Forrest:

He preached about the Trinity and how the world began;
Explained the Incarnation and the Destiny of Man.
He carefully expounded every detail of the Creeds,
And tried to show their relevance to modern human needs;
He brilliantly upheld the Christian heritage of Truth,
And sought to make it lucid and acceptable to youth.
They listened with correctitude, but everybody said,
‘He’s far too theological, and quite above our head.’

He gave an exposition of the Church’s means of Grace,
Revealing how the Sacraments revive a fallen race;
Of self-examination and the ways of Mental Prayer,
And why we need Communion, and how, and when, and where.
He spoke of Bible-reading, and to make it all complete,
Gave practical instruction on the value of Retreat.
And everyone agreed that it was logical enough,
But only suitable for those who like that kind of stuff.

He chose the Ten Commandments as the basis of a Course,
He amplified their meaning and emphasized their force;
He took the eight Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount,
And spoke of Christian stewardship and rendering account.
He did his best to penetrate beneath their toughened skins
With pointed expositions of the Seven Deadly Sins.
They felt a little slighted to be led across this ground,
For morals in suburbia are basically sound.

One day, in disillusionment, believing no one cared,
He flung at them a homily completely unprepared,
Endeavouring his customary quarter-hour to fill,
With sentimental platitudes that meant precisely nil;
Returning to the vestry in the grip of horrid fears
That people would consider it insulting to their ears.
But no, they were enraptured and devoured every word:
‘Oh, Vicar, it was lovely! Quite the best we’ve ever heard !’

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