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OUTRAGE, ELOQUENCE, GRACE AND GOODNESS

SOME WERE MURDERED ON THE BEACH WHERE THEY READ AND SUNBATHED, BY EVIL MEN
President Obama is a great orator, and he more than rose to the occasion of his eulogy for the nine killed in their bible class in Charleston by a racist youth. He went beyond the call of duty, and gave a speech that is the equal to some of Lincoln's.

It touched on issues of morality, and decency, and in some ways, reminds us that though life can feel meaningless, those who feel touched by God's grace can find healing purpose even in tragedy. Ending with the song 'Amazing Grace,' which he sang, President Obama fittingly, and movingly, brought his eloquence into the form of address most suited to the occasion, a song that all in the great African-American church could sing along with as well.  He exemplified the power of words to move into song, into community, and to spread ideas of communion, and goodness.

It is a matter of record that, meanwhile, the world is being ravaged by a religious murderousness that does not seek community, communion, peace, accord, forgiveness, mercy, or grace.  A virulent and violent form of misinterpreted religion that kills one and all, cruelly, sowing discord. It is perhaps the worst form of terrorism ever spawned in the human heart, and it is by all definitions, evil.

Those of us who love God and religion, as exemplified by the gentle mercy and goodness of a forgiving Jesus, should welcome the goodness of the Black American Church - as good an example of why Atheism seems blind to the plight of millions in history who found refuge there in a pew or pulpit - for God is hope, for those often enslaved, without any otherwise. God is meaning. Reason and science do not provide the healing balm, the uplifting songs, of the Black American Church. Atheism does not forgive, and love - it cannot offer a Grace that forgives murder.

But religion can be cruel - in the wrong hands, in the wrong lands. It can be misused by intolerant, by wicked, human minds.

So too in America, some good Christians cannot forgive the Supreme Court, this week, for permitting Gay marriage - and that is a pity.  Jesus loved and forgave all. The mercy that can forgive a killer must be able to welcome those who love and seek profound union, despite their gender.

What divides us must be overcome. Religion shows the best and worst of us. But God is the best of us, and God is love. Or so we hope, or so we hope.

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The runner-up is: Daniel Duffy - 'President Returns To New York For Brief First Visit'

Wheeler Light currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.



Life Jacket

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JOHN ASHBERY HAS DIED

With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

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