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Elizabeth Alexander's `Mightiest Word'

Barack Obama gave a "purpose-driven" speech at his inaugural today, one aimed at rallying Americans to set aside self-interest in favor of the common good. There was some fine oratory and it hit the right note. But to me, the most inspiring passage of the ceremony belonged to poet Elizabeth Alexander:

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

Alexander's poem "Praise Song for the Day" moved somewhat fitfully to that point, but then it lifted off at the end. The "mightiest word" is not often uttered in political discourse, even by religious leaders given the stage.

About the Author

Paul Moses, a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015).



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The great poetry of this event is the celebration of color. At first glance one might say how does a person come from a group that is just 13 percent of the population? But what is different is that group came here unwillingly and was brutalized for hundreds of years. One can appreciate the tears of joy visible in most African Americans. How can one not rejoice at this? And that is what makes Limbaugh such an atrocity as he still provokes and validates what is worse about America. And there is another dimension to the celebration of color. What will become clear is it is not just African Americans that are celebrating color today but all people of color which is increasingly rather exponentially in the US. Asians and Middle Easterner have always felt self conscious of their color and have been denied many things because of color. So this is a paradigm change which is more enormous than we may realize. In this way God has really blessed America.

As I said below, the innaugarl speech was given some beautiful and deper reinforcement byMs. Alexander's poem and the bendiction of Rev. Lowery.I think Bil's right - there was real movemen tof huge numbers of folk.But the message is very much about us and the challenge of living values -see for example the far too seldom heard from Father Reese's comment at NCR today.

In order to live our Lives in the fullness of the Mightiest Word, the Word of Love, we must begin at the beginning. All Human Life is Sacred because it is a Gift from God.

See dick run, run dick run. See spot chase dick off Air Force One. Would be more fun, than the sharpest pencils. Simplicity fails when the truth is stenciled. She should have remained artfully dumb.

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