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    The View From the Mall, Rick Warren, and Transportation Issues

    Usually, on leaving day I get a wistful feeling, reflecting on the good times that I've had, happy to be getting home but sad that my vacation is over.

    I don't feel like that today. Yesterday was a day that I will never forget, but today I'm even happier. My head is filled with hope and possibilities for the future.

    We started off yesterday getting off at a Metro stop way too early. So, we walked for about three hours to get to a place where we could get onto the mall. It turned out to be a very good thing. Moving prevented us from being cold and we got to see all sorts of fun and interesting things: people weaving Obama into their attire creatively, vendors selling everything from Obama memorabilia to hand warmers to baggies full of almonds and walnuts and Cliff bars. We saw a couple motorcades, but not THE motorcade, and also Anderson Cooper, moving swiftly toward a locked gate and presumably to the CNN outdoor studio. He was as smiley as the rest of us. And, he has the whitest hair I've ever seen.

    When we got to the mall, we were behind the Washington Monument, maybe a hundred yards. There were three large jumbotrons set up there, but there is also a small hill where the monument sits and I wanted to see what was on the other side. So, we headed up. On top of the hill was a great perspective because we could see the mall teeming with people in all directions: standing, sitting, perched atop the porta-potties, climbing into the trees. There was a jumbotron in the distance, partialy obscured by a couple of trees, but we could sort of see it and we could hear everything perfectly.

    For about an hour, we stood, waiting for the swearing in and chatting up our neighbors. I was talking to some folks from Ohio and New York. CalPaige and my cousin made friends with a group from Maryland. I am so not the type of person to talk to strangers, not because I'm shy, but starting conversations generally just doesn't occur to me. But of all of the experiences I've had this week, meeting people, hearing their stories, and feeling a connection through our commitment to our country and our president was my favorite.

    I loved the speech. I see that Deadman and I have different opinions about that. I thought he hit just the right tone and, as always, wove everything into a context of past, present, and future. When things are bad, the president has to walk a fine line. He needs to level with us, but he needs to do it in a way that that doesn't cause the markets to tank and people to lock themselves in their houses. I think yesterday President Obama achieved that. (PRESIDENT OBAMA! I LOVE WRITING THAT!)

    I thought the poem was interesting, Lowery was great, and Rick Warren was wildly inappropriate. I knew he would be, so at the beginning I was just sort of rolling my eyes. But when he launched into the Lord's Prayer, I couldn't believe it. I still believe it was an important gesture to the evangelical community and in the long run it will help. Too bad Warren is so dogmatic that he couldn't be more respectful to non-Christians. Jackass.

    When it was over, we spontaneously hugged--everyone...not just the people we'd been talking to. Somebody shouted, "group hug," and everybody just went for it. It was cool.

    It was over about one o'clock. Then, we walked for three more hours. We were trying to get back to our hotel and if we could have gone in that direction, we would have been there in about half the time. But roads were blocked from the parade route and we kept getting herded further and further away. At first, it was fine, because we were still basking and still talking to strangers, together stopping to consult the map and identify street signs. After a while though, people stopped talking so much and were kind of silently trudging. When we finally got close to a Metro station that we could actually enter, somehow a rumor got started in the crowd that the station was closed. This poor woman just collapsed with a wail. She had walked so far with the promise of finally getting to go home. The news was just too much. It was disturbing to me. I wanted to get her a cab or something. But there were emergency workers on the scene immediately and it turned out that the rumor wasn't true, so we resumed our trudging.

    The walking really wasn't that bad. We were just tired and I wanted coffee and we walked for the whole time without passing a restaurant or even a gas station. But we finally got on the train and got home. CalPaige figured out that we walked about seven miles in all. I'd be willing to walk at least twice that far to have the same experience. Probably more.

    At dinner, we all had such different experiences to share and it was nice to talk face-to-face with people I've been talking to for months in cyberspace. After dinner, we returned to our hotel and had the good fortune to be able to meet one of the original Tuskegee Airmen. He was 97 years old and had such a smile. It was a fitting way to end a historical day.

    And now, we're about to leave for home. Happy, hopeful, and still seeking coffee.



    Orlando, I am so glad you and so many daggers got to go.  Thanks for posting about your adventure.  I agree that the Rick Warren thing was out of line.  It is a shame but the only blot (and very small at that) on the day that I heard. 

    Unlike most commenters, my first impression was that Warren was OK. Maybe I was braced for the worst, but he was clearly trying to be inclusive.

    He introduced Jesus not as everyone's lord and savior, but as the person who had "taught him to pray," before launching into the Lord's Prayer. And by using his various names, he reminded listeners of the common Abrahamic tradition: Jesus was both a Jew and a revered prophet in Islam. So in asking God's protection for Obama, he had at least three major religions covered.

    Too bad Warren left out Buddhists, Hindus and non-believers, but Obama gave them equal time, and more prominence, in his own speech. Actually, the religious group that got the best play yesterday were Muslims, whom Obama singled out for outreach in their very own sentence.

    Have a safe trip home, Orlando.

    i don't think we're so far enough on our opinions of obama's address. I was probably a bit too harsh at first because of raised expectations, and you were likely so caught up in the moment and atmosphere that it would have been very tough for you not to love it. Bottom line for me: It was very solid, but not particularly stirring or memorable.

    You could be right. I was definitely caught up in the moment. I'll have to watch it again this weekend and see if distance changes my opinion.

    On the Warren front, I didn't care about the first part of his prayer and I didn't expect him to be inclusive. The reason I found the recitation of the Lord's Prayer to be so inappropriate (wildly so) is that the people in attendance were sharing a very important moment in time. We were cheering and crying together. We were sharing stories and hugging. It was our moment as much as it was Obama's. Then, Warren starts his prayer. 

    I should, I suppose, add a disclaimer that I have nothing against the Lord's Prayer. In fact, last Sunday, I said it, along with a few hundred others, in a church.

    But here's the rub. On Tuesday, I was in a crowd of at least one million. When one person is speaking to that crowd and an individual in the crowd doesn't like the message, he or she can wait it out, especially in this case, since the main event was Obama. But when Warren started the Lord's Prayer, suddenly thousands of voices rang out around me, joining him. Imagine being in that crowd, feeling like you were a part of something so significant, a shared moment with your fellow Americans. And then imagine that your fellow Americans begin to recite a prayer that specifically excludes you. Suddenly, you're not in on the sharing. It doesn't matter if it lasted two minutes or two seconds. It was classless.


    What an awesome experience! Thanks for sharing it with us.

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